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Folic Acid & Renal Disease

By Laura Wallace Henderson

Renal disease, also called kidney disease, is a serious condition that restricts the kidneys’ ability to filter waste products, creating a buildup in your body. Renal disease that requires kidney dialysis may increase your need for folic acid, a nutrient that plays an important role in the overall health of your cells and organs.

Folic Acid

Folic acid also goes by the names of folate and vitamin B9. This water-soluble vitamin can help prevent anemia and is necessary in the growth and division of new cells. This vitamin assists in creating RNA and DNA, the elements that serve as building blocks for cells. Folic acid occurs naturally in several types of food, such as dried beans and peas, leafy green vegetables and fruits. A folic acid deficiency can cause weight loss, headaches, irritability, heart palpitations and diarrhea. Conditions that can increase your need for folic acid include liver disease, kidney disease, pregnancy, malabsorption and certain anemias.

Renal Disease

The progression of renal disease includes five stages, depending on the level of function within the kidneys. Stages one through four include mild damage to severe decreases in renal function. Level five, also known as renal failure and end stage renal disease marks the final stage of this disease. ESRD requires either kidney dialysis or kidney transplant.


Most adults require 400 mcg of folic acid per day, although pregnant and breast-feeding women require more of this vitamin. The safe upper limit of folic acid is 1,000 mcg daily for adults. While most people with renal disease require normal amounts of folic acid, individuals with renal failure often need more. Kidney dialysis can affect the amount of homocysteine in your body, resulting in the need for more folic acid. According to, patients on dialysis may require between 0.8 and 15 mg of folic acid per day, while others need between 2.5 and 5 mg three times per week. The specific amount of folic acid you require depends on your individual homocysteine levels.


Avoid taking large doses of folic acid without your doctor’s recommendation, especially if you have a serious illness. Too much folic acid may trigger symptoms of a B12 deficiency. Excessive amounts of folic acid may cause seizures in people who use anticonvulsant medications.

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