Folic Acid Deficiency
(Folate Deficiency; Folacin Deficiency)
- Building proteins in the body
- Producing DNA
- Helping to form red blood cells
|Scanning Electron Micrograph of Red Blood Cells|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Inadequate dietary intake of folic acid due to:
- Limited consumption of fresh, minimally cooked food
- Chronic alcoholism
- Long-term need for intravenous nutrition (total parenteral nutrition)
Inadequate absorption of folic acid due to:
- Malabsorption syndromes, such as celiac disease
- Drug interactions, such as anticonvulsant medicines and oral contraceptives
Increased need for folic acid due to:
- Malignancy (eg, cancer )
- Certain medicines (eg, methotrexate )
- Pallor (pale skin)
- Grey hair
- Red, irritated, swollen, and sometimes shiny tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Shortness of breath and dizziness
- Change in bowel pattern ( diarrhea usually)
- Elevated level of homocysteine in the blood (a heart disease risk factor)
- Hemoglobin—will be lower than normal if any type of anemia is present
- Mean corpuscular volume (MCV)—measures the size of the red blood cell and will be larger than normal if folic acid deficiency is present
- Color of the red blood cell—will be normal if folic acid deficiency is present
- Serum folic acid—values of less than 5 ng/mL suggest a folic acid deficiency
- Red blood cell (RBC) folate—low levels confirm a diagnosis of folic acid deficiency
- Fortified grains, cereals, and bread products
- Dried beans and legumes
- Poultry, pork, liver, and shellfish
A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially:
- Dark, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli
- Citrus fruits and juices
March of Dimes http://www.marchofdimes.com/
Office of Dietary Supplements http://ods.od.nih.gov/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/
Healthy U http://www.healthyalberta.com/
Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies website. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/4574/8524.aspx . Accessed December 12, 2006.
Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies website. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=8524 . Accessed July 9, 2005.
Dietary supplement fact sheet: folate. Office of Dietary Supplements website.Available at: http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp . Accessed December 12, 2006.
Dietary supplement fact sheet: folate. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate.asp#h9 . Accessed July 9, 2005.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy . 18th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2006.
The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy . 15th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories; 1987.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 10/2012 -
- Update Date: 10/31/2012 -