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What You Should Know About Folic Acid Deficiency

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Folic acid (sometimes called folate) is one of the popular B vitamins, specifically Vitamin B9. Its main function is in the production of red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells are necessary in the transport of oxygen in your body. While we all need folic acid, ladies who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, especially need it. Despite the fact that it is rare, there are signs you can watch for and things you can do to try and prevent developing a folic acid deficiency.

One of the ways to try and prevent having a folic acid deficiency is trying to eat foods that provide a lot of folate. Foods that offer the highest levels of folate include: beans and legumes, citrus fruits and juices, dark green leafy vegetables, liver, poultry, pork, and shellfish and wheat bran and other whole grains. In addition, many cereals have added folic acid, some even offering 100% of your daily recommended intake in each serving. You can also consider taking a folic acid supplement if you feel your diet alone will not provide you with enough of this necessary nutrient. The recommended daily amount of folic acid for adults over 13 years is 400 mcg. Pregnant women should get 600 mcg and breast-feeding women should get 500 mcg each day.

Some medications can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb folic acid. Additionally, your body may require a higher than normal amount of folic acid if you suffer from certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease. Another reason you may be open to having a folic acid deficiency is if your body has a harder time absorbing folic acid. Things that may affect your ability to absorb folic acid include having severe kidney problems or ingesting large quantities of alcohol.

Signs indicating you may have low levels of folic acid that you should watch out for include feeling weak, tired or lightheaded, becoming forgetful, sudden loss of appetite accompanied by weight loss, having trouble concentrating and feeling overly grouchy. Low levels of folic acid can also cause: gray hair, mouth sores (ulcers), poor growth and a swollen tongue. Determining whether or not you have a folic acid deficiency can be done with a simple blood test. Your doctor may also test your levels of Vitamin B12 at the same time. Having low levels of either of these vitamins can exhibit the same symptoms. If you are concerned about your folic acid levels, you should consult your doctor.

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