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Folate Deficiency

more about Folate Deficiency

  • Folate is important in the formation of red blood cells, and is commonly found in fruits and vegetables.  Folate deficiency is often found in alcoholics, people with a poor diet, and in people who overcook their food.  Some medications interfere with the absorption of folate.

  • Blood tests show megaloblastic anemia -- blood count is extremely low, and red blood cells are enlarged.
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea

  • Folate deficiency is seen most often in alcoholics and in people who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
  • Medicines such as phenytoin, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and sulfasalazine can interfere with folate absorption in the intestines, leading to folate deficiency.
  • Pregnant women, people with hemolytic anemia, and people with certain skin diseases, need more folate than normal.  They can become folate-deficient unless treated with supplemental folate.
  • Patients on dialysis can also develop a folate deficiency.
  • The liver stores enough folate to last 2-3 months.

  • Red blood cell folate -- a blood test that measures the level of folate in the body
  • Blood tests show anemia (low blood counts)
  • Red blood cells are much bigger than normal.
  • A blood specialist can look at the blood and see certain other changes.
  • Bone marrow biopsy can be done to help make the diagnosis, but it is usually not needed

  • Folate deficiency is treated with oral folate -- 1mg. per day.
  • Blood counts return to normal within 2 months.

  • A healthy diet will help prevent folate deficiency.  Folate is found in fruits and vegetables, especially in citrus and green leafy vegetables.
  • It is also found in beans, legumes, wheat bran, shellfish, pork, poultry, and liver.

more about Folate Deficiency

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