Causes, symptoms and treatment options of a folate deficiency
Folic acid is essential for the body since it helps the body produce red blood cells. Red blood cells (RBC) are a crucial part of the natural blood circulatory system as they help carry fresh oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. RBC simultaneously processes the carbon dioxide carrying it away from the tissue back to the lungs. The lack of folic acid; a B vitamin in the body results in folate deficiency anemia.
Major organs rely on a fresh supply of purified blood to function efficiently. Due to the anemia, the red blood cells are not carrying enough oxygen to tissues throughout the body which hampers normal bodily functions. A folate deficiency can also cause megaloblastic anemia in which the reduced count of blood vessels expand in size and deteriorate at a faster rate in comparison to normal red blood cells.
Diet and lifestyle choices play a key role in whether or not a person is at risk of developing a deficiency. The risk of a folate deficiency anemia is high among people who don’t follow a healthy diet, consume alcohol above the recommended limit, are pregnant, and cannot naturally absorb folic acid due to certain medical conditions.
Mentioned below are some causes of a folate deficiency which can be extremely harmful to one in the long run:
- Low consumption of foods rich in folic acid
The exclusion of green and leafy vegetables, fruits, cereals, yeast, and certain cuts of meats can cause the folic acid levels in the body to drop and result in anemia if left unchecked for a prolonged period.
- Alcohol consumption
Men must limit the number of drinks to 2 per day and women should not consume more than one drink per day. Excess consumption of alcohol can drastically lower the folic acid levels in the body.
- Medical conditions
There are certain medical conditions affecting the lower digestive tract that interfere with optimum levels of folic acid in the body. Celiac disease is one of the most common medical conditions that increase the chances of a folate deficiency anemia.
A developing fetus needs more folic acid than an adult which is why one can suffer from a deficiency as the nutrient is absorbed by the baby faster in comparison to the mother. There are multiple complications that can arise out of a folate deficiency during pregnancy including major birth defects that affect the brain and the spinal cord.
Blood tests will be done on a regular basis to understand the underlying cause, in order to keep track of the deficiency. A barium study is advisable in cases where the deficiency is a result of common digestive problems.
Noticeable symptoms of folate deficiency anemia include pale skin, decreased appetite, irritable behavior, lack of energy, fatigue, diarrhea, and tender tongue sensation. You must note that the symptoms of the deficiency are similar to common blood condition which is why a proper diagnosis is essential to eliminate other conditions.
Treatment for folate deficiency anemia includes a combination of vitamin and mineral supplements to boost the folic acid levels, changes in the diet, and specialist care. Post-treatment, it is critical to monitor one’s condition which is why medical professionals recommend regular blood tests to check and maintain hemoglobin levels which confirms whether the treatment has been successful or not.