Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid or folate, is a key participant in almost every biochemical process in your body. You need this vitamin to break down food and convert macronutrients, like carbohydrate, fat and protein into energy. You also need it to synthesize normal red blood cells, regulate hormones and ensure faithful replication and synthesis of DNA and RNA. For most people, a balanced diet consisting of all food categories is enough to meet the daily 400 micrograms requirement of folate. Foods like dark green vegetables, beans and legumes, animal liver, sunflower seeds, citrus fruits and juices and fortified cereals are excellent dietary sources of this vitamin and can deliver your total daily requirement in just one serving.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of folic acid deficiency include:
~ Mouth sores
~ Gray hair
~ Swollen tongue
~ Poor growth (also among the chief symptoms of malnutrition)
Once anemia occurs, you might experience the following:
~ Feeling cold
~ Difficulty breathing
~ Pale skin
~ Weight loss
~ Loss of appetite
~ Difficulty concentrating
What Causes Deficiency of Vitamin B9?
~ Deficiency of vitamin B9 is caused by alcoholism, malabsorption diseases, pharmaceuticals, and dialysis. Signs of vitamin B9 deficiency increase with age.~ Deficiency of vitamin B9 may lead to heart palpitations, birth defects, and leucopoenia. Infertility and sterility have also been reported in patients suffering from vitamin B9 deficiency. The deficiency of vitamin B9 increases the risk of atherosclerosis and heart diseases.
~ Vitamin B9 is essential for the development of the nervous system of a growing fetus. Deficiency of B9 can cause spina bifida in the baby.
~ Long-term deficiency of vitamin B9 results in anemia. It can also lead to osteoporosis and cancer of the bowel or cervix.
Other blood conditions can cause symptoms similar to folic acid deficiency anemia. You’ll need to see your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor will do a complete blood count (CBC) test to determine if you have folic acid deficiency anemia. This test will reveal if your red blood cell count is low.Your doctor may also order a blood test to check your folic acid levels. This is called a red blood cell folate level test. If you’re of childbearing age, your doctor may order a pregnancy test to determine if this is the cause of your deficiency. They’ll also ask questions about your eating habits to see if malnutrition is the culprit.
How Is Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia Treated?
The goal of treatment is to increase your body’s folic acid levels. The easiest way is to take folic acid tablets daily, until the deficiency is corrected. However, you might need to receive folic acid intravenously if your levels are too low.Along with taking supplements, you should eat foods that are high in folic acid, such as pinto beans, spinach, and oranges. Eat plenty of fresh foods and avoid processed or fried foods. They’re usually low in nutrients and high in fat.