Folate - red cell and serum

Last updated: Thursday, 01, April, 2004

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Item Process
Specimen5 mL blood in EDTA tube and 5 mL blood in plain tube.
Reference Interval

Check with laboratory.

Red cell: 360-1400 nmol/L
Serum: 7-45 nmol/L.


Investigation of patients with a high MCV and/or changes in red cell morphology on blood film suggestive of megaloblastic anaemia.

Serum folate alone is of little diagnostic value as levels may be reduced with a short term decrease in dietary intake and in systemic illness.


Red cell and serum folate levels are low in megaloblastic anaemia due to folate deficiency.

In vitamin B12 deficiency, serum folate may be normal or raised, red cell folate normal or low.

Low serum folate with a normal red cell folate may be seen in systemic illness and with a short term decrease in folate intake.

ReferenceHoffman R et al eds. Haematology Basic Principles and Practice. 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone 1995.