People in the United Kingdom with folic acid prescriptions were 1.5 times more likely to get COVID-19. They were also 2.6 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to the control group. Those are the findings of a new study from UC Davis Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, also found that having a prescription for the antifolate drug methotrexate mitigated the negative impact of folic acid on COVID-19 when folic acid and methotrexate were given together.
The research team studied a large cohort of patients enrolled in the UK BioBank, a major biomedical database containing health information from half a million people.
“We examined whether COVID-19 diagnosis and death were related to the large doses of folic acid — five times the safe upper limit — prescribed to patients for a variety of medically approved indications. We found that the risk of becoming infected and dying from COVID-19 was significantly greater in the group treated with folic acid,” said Ralph Green, an expert on B vitamins. Green is a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and co-senior author of the study.
Folic acid and COVID-19
Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, also known as folate. Low levels of B9 are associated with health conditions such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and birth defects.
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