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Folate (serum)

What Is Folate?

Folate is the name given to a group of compounds and is derived from the word ‘foliage’. Folate or folic acid naturally occurs in foods such as spinach, green vegetables and liver. Folate is also known as vitamin B9 and has crucial roles in the production of DNA.[1]

Which tests include this marker?

What Role Does It Play in The Body?

Human beings must get their intake of folate from their diet as we are unable to make it ourselves. Folate is particularly important during pregnancy as it is needed for adequate foetal and placental development.[2] All females are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid while they try to get pregnant and then for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This helps to ensure the baby’s spine develops properly and reduces the risk of neural tube defects including spina bifida.[3]

We also need folate for the development of our red blood cells, for the formation of DNA and to enable our nerves to function effectively.[4]

How Does Folate Affect My Wellbeing?

Folic acid is needed for the proper development of red blood cells. If this is not the case, then macrocytic anaemia can occur. This is where the red blood cells are unable to carry oxygen as efficiently and can cause large red blood cells.

Usually, folate is also analysed alongside vitamin B12 as these can both be markers for macrocytic anaemias. They can also both be used to look at nutritional status especially if malnutrition is suspected. Both B vitamins are needed for adequate red cell development, cell repair and DNA synthesis.

How Can I Improve My Result?

Folate can only be acquired from the diet and so this may be the best place to start with improving and maintaining folate levels. Supplementation may be required particularly during pregnancy.


Good sources of folate include:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Liver
  • Shellfish
  • Whole grain foods
  • Beef and yeast extracts
  • Fortified cereals4

Supplementation may be required if your levels are low. However, this can mask any anaemia which may also be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. You should consult your GP before beginning supplementation.


Exercise is believed to be key to managing stress and reducing anxiety and depression.[5] You should aim to exercise for 30-60 minutes most days of the week to feel the full benefits of exercise.

However, you should bear in mind that anaemia can seriously affect your energy levels. Therefore, you may find that your performance may be affected if you are anaemic.

Tests that include this marker

Plant-Based Diet

If you are following a vegan or plant-based diet, check your body is not lacking in vital nutrients.



Is your diet supplying you with all the micronutrients your body needs for a strong immune system? This nutrition test will identify areas for improvement, helping you to keep you body strong and healthy.


Baseline Plus


Measure & track 20 key biomarkers including those essential for a strong immune system, energy levels, strong bones and good sleep.

£79 per test

Body Fit

For those who may have taken up a new challenge or returning to fitness after a break, our Body Fit profile helps you measure the positive changes exercise is having on your body, as well as ensuring your energy markers are in the right zone and you are leaving your body enough time to recover.


Immune Health

Our immune system blood check is a home blood test kit that assesses the key biomarkers that support the functioning of your immune system and identifies areas for improvement.



With over 45 biomarkers, this health check empowers you to gain a deep understanding about your inside health.



Our most advanced health check which analyses over 50 biomarkers. For those who want a deep understanding of their health.



[1] The Open University. (2017). Nutrition: Vitamins and Minerals.

[2] Castaño, E., Piñuñuri, R., Hirsch, S and Ronco, A, M. (2016). Folate and Pregnancy, Current Concepts. It is Required Folic Acid Supplementation? Rev Chil Pediatr: 88(2), pp 199-206.

[3] NHS Choices. (2018). Why Do I Need Folic Acid in Pregnancy? Available at:

[4] British Dietetic Association. (2016). Folic Acid. Available at:

[5] Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2011). Exercising to Relax. Available at:

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