These days with the abundance of fortified foods rich in folic acid having a folate deficiency is rather uncommon all on it’s own. Typically a folate deficiency is a result of a poor diet, too much alcohol or a nutrient absorption issue. (Many people lack the enzyme to properly convert folic acid into the active form folate.)
Since a folate deficiency on its own is not as common as it once was, a deficiency is often the result of or in combination with other nutrient deficiencies.
It is important to diagnose and fix other nutrient deficiencies that may be present with folic acid deficiency, like vitamin B12 deficiency which can cause pernicious anemia.
Anemia due to a folic acid deficiency is called megaloblastic anemia, and is the main sign of low amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12. When one has megaloblastic anemia your red blood cells are abnormally shaped and larger than usual. This can cause a number of symptoms.
Symptoms of Low B12 and Folate Anemia
Muscle weakness or feeling you just don’t have the strength to accomplish tasks you normally can do with ease
Similar to weakness feeling tired all the time, or not being able to wake up in the morning can be a sign of low folate
- Pale skin
A loss of color in your face is the most noticeable, if others comment you look “as white as a ghost it may be a sign you have pale skin due to lack of oxygen in the blood
Decreased red blood cell count can cause a lowering of the oxygen in the blood which can cause swelling of the arteries – this can cause headaches
Feeling like you are ready to snap at any moment can be due to a deficiency in key nutrients
- Premature hair graying
There are many causes of premature hair graying, one of them might be a lack of folate or B12
- Stunted growth
A long term side effect of too little B12 or folate can be stunted growth as your body is not getting the nutrients it needs to grow
- Shortness of breath
Anemia makes your heart work harder, thus you may experience shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Again, anemia can effect the heart in numerous ways so you may experience heart palpitations or irregular beating
- Difficulty concentrating
Since folate and B12 are important for mental clarity not having enough can cause you to have trouble concentrating
- Weight loss
Not getting the proper nutrients or not being able to process the nutrients from food can lead to weight loss
The same lack of oxygen in the blood can lead to feelings of nausea as well
There are certain groups of people that can be more susceptible to folate deficiency. Pregnant women, those dependent on alcohol (suffer from alcoholism) and those that have trouble absorbing folic acid (a malabsorptive disorder) can often become deficient.
As we age we can become deficient as well. Often times our diet suffers from lack of motivation to prepare healthy meals. A decreased appetite can occur as we age as well. This tendency to neglect our healthy food intake can increase when a loved one passes on. Perhaps they were the one that did most of the cooking leaving the survivor alone in more ways than one.
When one is deficient in folate a doctor will most likely suggest a folate supplement along with dietary recommendations to increase the amount of folate you consume.
When choosing a folate supplement make sure it is Methylated folate as the active form of folic acid can be absorbed more efficiently.
See the video below for more information: