We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
- Best budget: Everlywell Folic Acid Test
- Best for accuracy: LetsGetChecked Folate Test
- Best professionally administered test: Next Medical Concierge Blood Test
A folic acid test measures the levels of folic acid in your blood. Folic acid is a lab-made version of vitamin B9. In its natural form, vitamin B9 is called folate.
It’s important to get enough vitamin B9 to prevent anemia and other related concerns, including birth defects in your baby if you’re pregnant.
You can get folic acid through fortified foods such as pasta, rice, bread, and cereal. Folate is found naturally in foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and citrus fruits.
Whether you suspect a deficiency, have a chronic condition that affects how your body absorbs vitamins, or are planning a pregnancy, you may benefit from knowing your levels of vitamin B9. If you don’t want to visit a lab or doctor’s office to get this test done, you can use an at-home kit. Whether it is labeled a “folate,” “folic acid,” or “vitamin B9” test, it will help you determine your vitamin B9 levels.
People who most likely to need a folic acid test include those who:
- are pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- have chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, which can affect vitamin absorption
- have symptoms of anemia
- have the MTHFR gene, which can affect the way your body processes folic acid
A healthcare professional or registered dietitian can give you a physical exam and listen to your health history to see if they think low folic acid is a concern. They can also provide a recommendation during a telemedicine visit.
If you’d prefer not to go to a traditional appointment, you might want to try an at-home folic acid test.
While mild folic acid deficiency won’t cause noticeable symptoms for most people, severe vitamin B9 deficiency can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- bleeding gums
- extreme fatigue
- constipation or diarrhea
- numbness in limbs
- a red, swollen tongue
- difficulty walking
- low appetite
Low vitamin B12 levels can cause similar symptoms, so a test can help you understand exactly which deficiency you need to address.
Anemia and vitamin B deficiency
Anemia can be caused by vitamin B deficiency or iron deficiency. A folic acid test (especially if it also includes a B12 level check) may help determine the underlying cause.
Symptoms of anemia may include:
- unusual paleness
- shortness of breath
- rapid heart rate
We read customer reviews, listened to healthcare professionals, and considered these factors to narrow down the options:
- Ease of access. Is the test available in the United States? Are there shipping costs? Are the websites relatively user-friendly?
- Cost. Most at-home blood tests are not covered by insurance, though you may be able to use your flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay. So, what is the cost to users? Typically the more levels a test checks, the more expensive it is. We did try to include a basic, lower-cost test as well as a more expensive, more comprehensive option and several in between.
- Ease of use. How clear are the instructions? Is the packaging easy to open? Is it simple to send the blood sample in?
- Wait time for results. There isn’t a ton of variation, but we did look at how long you’ll have to wait to get your results. Some companies have a faster turnaround time than others.
- Reputability. Does the product have generally positive reviews? Is the lab certified by a laboratory accrediting organization such as College of American Pathologists (CAP),
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), or COLA Inc? All the laboratories on our list are certified by at least one of these agencies.
Best budget: Everlywell Folic Acid Test
- Price: $49
- Turnaround time: 5 to 7 days, sometimes longer
- Tests for: vitamin B9
Everlywell is a reputable, widely known healthcare products company. It is easy to find the brand’s tests online or in stores.
While turnaround time is a little longer than some of our other options, people love how simple and easy to use these tests are. Doing your own finger prick and collecting a blood sample at home can feel daunting, but Everlywell helps make the process as smooth as possible.
This is also the best price we found for an at-home folic acid test, at $49 per test. If you think you’ll have other lab testing needs, or want to repeat your folic acid level regularly, you can join the subscription program for $25 per month and choose one lab test to take each month.
Best for accuracy: LetsGetChecked Folate Test
- Price: $89
- Turnaround time: 2 to 5 days from when your sample is received at the lab
- Tests for: vitamin B9
The folate test from LetsGetChecked is our top pick for accuracy because their laboratory is both CLIA and CAP certified.
Another way they ensure accurate results is by providing an instructional video on the website to walk you through sample collection. They also have a 24/7 nurse call line in case you need help with the process or understanding your lab results.
The test is a bit more expensive, at $89 for only one vitamin level. If you think you will need to test your folic acid levels regularly, they do have a subscription program that decreases the cost.
Your results should be available 2 to 5 days after the lab receives your sample. This is pretty standard, but longer than our top pick for fastest results.
Best professionally administered test: Next Medical Concierge Blood Test
- Price: $199
- Turnaround time: 12 to 48 hours after testing
- Tests for: vitamins B12, B6, and B9
A unique option, Next Medical is a company that offers at-home vitamin testing on demand. They call their service “Uber, but for vitamin testing.” If you get queasy thinking about seeing blood or want more guidance from a healthcare professional, this could be a great option for you.
You’ll schedule an appointment online, and a nurse or lab tech will come to your house to collect the blood sample. Because it’s a local process, you should get results in 12 to 48 hours. A doctor will review your results with you and can recommend a treatment plan or prescribe medications if needed.
Next Medical is not available everywhere, so you can use their location finder to see if they operate in your area. Although the price is higher than other tests, you’ll get a full B-vitamin panel and professional attention without leaving the comfort of your home.
The staff will also walk you through the insurance submission process, if you have insurance. The company estimates that you can get up to 70 percent of the cost covered.
If you follow the collection instructions carefully and use a reputable laboratory company, the results should be considered reliable. We specifically chose tests that use accredited labs to run their tests.
As with any blood test, there is always some risk of receiving inaccurate results, whether from sample collection error or lab error.
If you have serious health concerns, it is best to talk with your doctor and have them guide you through the lab process to ensure you get accurate results and the best treatment possible.
In most cases, you will need to fast from food or liquid for 8 to 12 hours before performing a blood vitamin test. For this reason, most people prefer to do their test early in the morning before they eat or drink for the day.
Some medications can also affect the results. Your test kit should come with complete instructions to help you prepare.
Each kit will come with an instruction booklet to walk you through the test. Make sure you read through the instructions carefully from start to finish before beginning.
After reading the instructions, gather all of your supplies (including the instructions for reference). Each kit will have different specifics, but the general process will include:
- You’ll clean the tip of your finger with an alcohol wipe.
- You’ll use the lancet to prick your finger and squeeze a small amount of blood into a card or tube.
- You’ll package your sample according to the kit instructions and mail it back to the laboratory.
Again, for the most accurate results, read your kit’s instructions carefully and follow them as closely as possible.
What is a folic acid test used for?
A folic acid test is used to measure the amount of folic acid in your bloodstream. Folic acid is a lab-made form of folate, or vitamin B9.
Low folic acid levels can lead to anemia or birth defects in babies. A folic acid test can help determine whether you would benefit from a folic acid supplement.
What is the expected range for folic acid?
The range that’s considered typical for folic acid is 2.7 to 17 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). A result lower than 2.7 ng/ml can mean you have a folic acid deficiency.
While a result higher than 17 ng/mL isn’t usually a problem, it could mean you have low levels of vitamin B12. This is because vitamin B12 helps absorb folic acid. So you don’t have enough B12, your folic acid might be staying in your blood instead of getting absorbed by your body.
The best way to understand your lab results (and what to do next) is to talk with your doctor.
A number of conditions or dietary factors may lead to low folic acid levels. It is especially important for pregnant people to get plenty of folic acid through food and supplements.
You can purchase at-home test kits to check your folic acid levels and determine whether you need more folic acid supplementation. However, if you are having serious health concerns or are pregnant, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional.
Megan Dix is a Denver-based writer and registered nurse. Her background is in pediatric oncology and clinical research. She loves to help people understand the often-overwhelming medical world so they can actively participate in their own health and wellness. Her other passions include being a mom, hiking, traveling, and cooking with zoodles.
Leave a Reply