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Folate deficiency anemia

Folic acid is vitamin B9, and you require this vitamin daily as your body can’t store it. Its deficiency (decreased blood levels of folate) causes folate deficiency anemia. Folate is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and due to its deficiency, red blood cell count decreases causing anemia.

Folic acid has a number of benefits. A few of them are mentioned below:

  • Preventing and treating low blood levels
  • Used for memory loss
  • Use to prevent heart disease
  • Prevent miscarriage and birth defects
  • Prevent hearing loss
  • Prevents depression
  • Treats anemia
  • Used for kidney diseases
  • Used in the treatment of iron deficiency

Folic acid also has a few side-effects which are mentioned below. High folic acid dosage causes:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures

Due to anemia, you may have weakness and fatigue. Other folic acid deficiency symptoms are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Gray hair
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor growth
  • Headache
  • Irritability

The primary cause of folic acid deficiency anemia is malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs due to having a diet low in vitamins and having overcooked foods. Inability to absorb folic acid in the body by the intestine (malabsorption) can also lead to folic acid deficiency anemia. In women, pregnancy also causes folate deficiency anemia.

Excessive alcohol intake and history of sickle cell disease also increase the risk of folate deficiency anemia. Alcohol interferes with the folate absorption in the body.

If you have folate deficiency anemia during pregnancy, your baby may develop congenital birth defects such as spina bifida. Spina bifida is a condition in which back bone and membranes around the spinal cord are closed.

Other conditions of blood also have similar symptoms. So, your doctors recommend for few diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis. The diagnosis of folate deficiency anemia includes:

  • Complete blood count to determine red blood cell count
  • Red blood cell folate level test to determine folic acid levels

Your doctor may also question about your eating habits to determine whether malnutrition is a cause of anemia. If you are at the childbearing age, your doctor orders for a pregnancy test to determine whether the pregnancy is the cause.

The goal of the treatment is to treat the underlying cause and increase folic acid levels.

Your doctor prescribes folic acid tablets to be taken every day till the folic acid levels reach normal range. If the levels are too low, your doctor prefers administration of folic acid intravenously. If your intestine is failing to absorb folic acid, you may need folic acid supplements for a lifetime.

If the cause is malnutrition, your doctor advices you to make dietary changes to increase the intake of folic acid. Consuming green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, yeast, liver, beet root, and sprouts may help you to recover from folate deficiency. Consume fresh foods and avoid processed or overcooked foods. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian for making a proper diet plan.

You will recover from this condition after the treatment with no chronic side effects.

Taking folic acid supplements if your folic acid levels are low can reduce the risk of developing anemia. During pregnancy, take folic acid supplements as per your doctor’s advice.

Consume dark green leafy vegetables as these foods are rich in folic acid.