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In this blog we have discussed about Folic acid deficiency causes.

What is folic acid or folate?

Folate, or folic acid, is a type of vitamin B complex. It is an essential water-soluble vitamin, naturally present in food, especially in fruits, green leafy vegetables, and liver. Folic acid is the synthesized form of folate present in fortified foods and supplements and has a higher bioavailability than naturally occurring folate.

Folic acid (vitamin B9) works with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body to:

Make DNA

Repair DNA

Produce red blood cells (RBCs)

What is folate deficiency?

Folate deficiency occurs when there is shortage of vitamin B9 (folate)  in your blood. Folate deficiency can lead to many complications. Because folate is not stored in the body in large amounts, your blood levels will get low after only a few weeks of eating a diet low in folate(1)

What causes folate deficiency?

Folate, or folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that dissolves in water. Unlike other fat-soluble vitamin, this isn’t stored in your fat cells. So you have to keep taking folate, as your body can’t store or reserve. Excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins is excreted through the urine.

Folate deficiency can cause anemia. Anemia is a condition in which you have too few RBCs. Anemia can deprive your tissues of oxygen it needs because RBCs carry the oxygen. This may affect their function.

Folate is particularly important in people with uteruses of childbearing age. A folate deficiency during pregnancy can lead to birth irregularities.

Nevertheless, supplements are recommended for women who may become pregnant.

The causes of folate deficiency include:


Not getting enough folate through diet can cause folate deficiency in just a few weeks. Avoiding fresh fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereals is the main cause of folate deficiency. Also, overcooking your food can sometimes destroy the essential vitamins.


Deficiency may also occur due to a condition or genetic mutation that prevents your body from absorbing or converting folate to dietary or supplemental folate to its usable form, methylfolate.


Disease related to Folic Acid Deficiency

Certain conditions that affect folate absorption resulting in a deficiency. They include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • celiac disease
  • Tropical sprue
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Amyloidosis
  • Gastric bypass
  • Mesenteric vascular insufficiency
  • certain types of cancers
  • severe kidney problems that require dialysis.
  • Pregnancy and hemolytic anemia can also result in folate deficiency

Medication side effects

Few medications can antagonize folate utilization, inhibit its absorption or conversation to its active form resulting in folate deficiency. These include:

  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazoleTrusted Source
  • methotrexate
  • sulfasalazine

Excessive alcohol intake can cause Folic Acid Deficiency

Alcohol interferes with folate absorption. It increases folate excretion through the urine.


Folic acid deficiency is an easily treatable nutritional deficiency, but if left untreated, it can lead to multiple serious complications. Patients are encouraged to eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables and complete abstinence from alcohol.

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