Influence of pH on the dissolution of folic acid supplements

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The vitamin folic acid has received considerable attention because of its role in decreasing the risk of neural tube birth defects, and its potential role in reducing the risks of cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases. A significant concern is the quality of commercially available folic acid products. We evaluated the pharmaceutical performance of 15 currently available folic acid products in terms of meeting the USP standards for disintegration and dissolution, and showed that there has been significant improvement in the past decade in the quality of these products. However, at least one product failed to meet the requirement of each test performed. Since folic acid absorption is maximal at the proximal jejunum, dissolution was further evaluated in simulated gastric fluid. All the products failed to release more than 75% of the active ingredient in 60 min. While some excipient-related factors were preliminarily considered, it was ultimately proposed that the failure may be related to the pH-dependency of the solubility of folic acid, a premise supported by faster dissolution of laboratory prepared buffered folic acid tablets. The more limited solubility of folic acid in acidic medium should be taken into consideration in the required dissolution testing methods, as well as in product formulation to optimize release.

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