Supplementation Possibly Helpful
Folate (also known as folic acid) is a B vitamin that plays an important role in many vital aspects of health, including preventing neural tube birth defects and possibly reducing the risk of heart disease. Because inadequate intake of folate is widespread, if you are taking any medication that depletes or impairs folate even slightly, you may need supplementation.
Valproic acid appears to decrease the body's absorption of folate,
and other antiseizure drugs can also reduce levels of folate in the body.
The low serum folate caused by anticonvulsants can raise homocysteine levels, a condition believed to increase the risk of heart disease.
Adequate folate intake is also necessary to prevent neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Because anticonvulsant drugs deplete folate, babies born to women taking anticonvulsants are at increased risk for such birth defects. Anticonvulsants may also play a more direct role in the development of birth defects.
However, the case for taking extra folate during anticonvulsant therapy is not as simple as it might seem. It is possible that folate supplementation might itself impair the effectiveness of anticonvulsant drugs, and physician supervision is necessary.