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Folic Acid Deficiency

more about Folic Acid Deficiency

  • Folic Acid is an important vitamin used by the body in red blood cells and in many reactions throughout the body.  It is present in most fresh fruits and vegetables (especially citrus and green leafy vegetables), and is commonly added to bread products as a supplement.
  • Cooked fruits/vegetables lose most of their folic acid.

  • Swollen tongue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

  • Insufficient intake caused by:
    1. Alcoholism
    2. Tropical sprue
    3. Elderly
    4. Lack of eating fresh fruits/vegetables
    5. Medications such as Dilantin and sulfasalazine block folic acid absorption.  Methotrexate blocks it from becoming active in the body.
    1. Pregnant women
    2. Hemolytic anemia diseases
    3. Exfoliative (peeling) skin diseases

  • Macrocytic anemia (enlarged size red blood cells, but much decreased numbers of them)
  • Serum folic acid level is low
  • Red blood cell folic acid level is low

Folic Acid is very important to the developing fetus.  Insufficient folic acid can cause neural tube defects, an extremely serious birth defect that causes problems with the spinal cord.  It is important for all women attempting to become pregnant to take folic acid supplementation.  It is best to begin taking supplements 3 months before attempting pregnancy, but if already pregnant, begin immediately.  Folic Acid is contained in almost all pre-natal vitamins.

Folic Acid is important in converting the body enzyme homocystine to methionine.  Homocystine is thought to increase the likelihood that cholesterol plaque will adhere to the walls of the arteries, leading to heart blockages and heart attacks.  Many physicians now commonly check the homocystine blood level during exams.  If it is elevated, your physician will recommend that folic acid supplementation be taken to help decrease the homocystine level (by converting it to methionine).  Theoretically, this should help decrease the risk of heart disease.

more about Folic Acid Deficiency

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