Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for a number of body functions. Just as the other members of the vitamin B complex family, folic acid too is involved in metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and for energy synthesis. It also plays an important role in the production of the red blood cells and the genetic materials of the body. It is an essential nutrient for the brain and the nervous system. Hence, deficiency of this important nutrient leads to serious health problems. Folic acid deficiency is especially harmful for women of the child-bearing age. Women suffering from folic acid deficiency have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects.
List Of 9 Major Causes And Symptoms Of Folic Acid Deficiency
Causes Of Folic Acid Deficiency
Folic Acid Deficient Diet
Inadequate intake of folic acid rich foods is a leading cause of folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is a water soluble nutrient. Any excess folic acid you get from your diet is flushed out of your body through urine. Therefore, consuming foods containing folic acid daily is the only way to meet your daily folic acid need. People who do not eat sufficient plant foods are vulnerable to folic acid deficiency. Fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables are the best sources of folic acid.
Inflammation Of Intestines
Diseases that cause inflammation of the intestines inhibit absorption of folic acid from foods, leading to deficiency of this important nutrient. People suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease that causes inflammation of the small intestine following gluten consumption have a higher risk of folic acid deficiency because of malabsorption of the nutrient.
MTHFR Gene Mutation
Mutation of the MTHFR gene prevents your body from utilizing folic acid that leads to folic acid deficiency. The MTHFR gene instructs an enzyme to convert folic acid into its active form. If you are suffering from MTHFR genetic defect, despite consuming folic acid rich foods or supplements your body cannot use the B vitamin. In such as case, supplementation of active form of folic acid is the only way to prevent folic acid deficiency related health disorders.
Alcohol is a powerful diuretic. Excessive alcohol intake stimulates urination. Your body loses folic acid along with other water soluble nutrients through urine, which causes folic acid deficiency.
Side Effects Of Drugs
Certain medications can reduce absorption of folic acid. Diuretics, antacids, drugs that suppress stomach acid production, anti-seizure medications, malaria drugs and certain antibiotics can slow down folic acid absorption.
Symptoms Of Folic Acid Deficiency
Fatigue is the most common symptoms of folic acid deficiency. Deficiency of folic acid reduces production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body tissues. Without enough oxygen circulating in the blood you feel tired and lethargic. Furthermore, folic acid helps in metabolism. In the absence of this B vitamin, your body cannot break down the carbohydrates to produce energy and you feel weak.
Poor Memory And Concentration
Folic acid is a crucial nutrient for your brain. Without sufficient folic acid, your brain cannot function properly. Folic acid deficiency anemia further slows down your brain function, leading to mental fatigue, poor concentration and forgetfulness.
Swelling Of Tongue
Swelling of tongue is a sign of severe folic acid deficiency. Oral lesions may also develop if you do not get sufficient folic acid for a prolonged period.
Growth Problems In Children
Folic acid stimulates rapid growth of body cells. Poor physical growth in children is a common sign of folic acid deficiency. It also slows down mental development.