Under normal circumstances (from food sources alone), people are not at any risk of folic acid overdose. Generally, chronic alcoholics, people with digestive tract problems, liver diseases, pernicious anemia, those undergoing kidney dialysis, pregnant women, etc. are folic acid deficient and are asked to consumed folic acid supplements. Supplements when consumed above a dosage amount of 1,000 mcg, for a long period of time, can at times trigger some health problems.
Symptoms of Folic Acid Overdose
Folic acid overdose is not known to have any deleterious effects on the human body. An overdose is also rare because the body may eventually excrete the high amounts or excess of folic acid. However, consumption of high doses (above 1,000 mcg) over a long period of time can result in some problems. Some of the symptoms of folic acid overdose are as follows:
- Digestive problems (such as nausea or gas)
- Zinc deficiency
- Numbness in the mouth or tongue
- Inability to concentrate
- Psychotic behavior
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Irritability, excitability, or hyperactivity
- Reduced appetite
- Allergic reactions like swelling on face, throat, lips or tongue.
Moreover, high doses of folic acid can also mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. Folic acid from the supplement will treat the anemia caused by the vitamin B12 deficiency, however, the nerve damage associated with the deficiency will go undetected. An overdose of folic acid is also seen to inactivate the effect of anti-epilepsy medication. This means folic acid is indirectly harming the body, by not allowing the detection of another deficiency. High dose of folic acid is also feared to increase risks of heart attacks in people with heart diseases.
Treatment of folic acid overdose will depend on the type of symptoms caused. For example, if the symptom caused due to overdose is diarrhea, then supportive treatment for this condition will include medication for diarrhea. If seizures or psychotic behavior is the symptom, then corresponding medicines are given. If you feel you are experiencing an overdose of folic acid, seek medical attention immediately.
Appropriate Folic Acid Dosage
Since folic acid is a vitamin that is not produced by the body, we need to provide the body with folic acid on a timely basis. Folic acid dosage will depend on the health condition of a person. For example, a healthy person requires 400 mcg per day. Children between the age of 1-13 range need about 150 mcg to 300 mcg of folic acid per day. About 600 mcg of folic acid is required by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Folic acid dosage for folic acid deficient people will range from 400 mcg to 1,000 mcg. These doses are just approximations; the exact dosage amount will depend on the deficiency and health condition of a person. Check with your health care provider before popping folic acid supplements into your mouth.
Folic acid is naturally available in food items such as legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, etc. Consuming a healthy diet will keep folic acid deficiency at bay. Nevertheless, in case you are diagnosed with folic acid deficiency, take the dosage that your medical practitioner prescribes.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.