Folate deficiency is common, especially in the elderly, in adolescent females, amongst the malnourished, and in alcoholics and heavy smokers, but may increasingly be caused by modern diets and lifestyle factors, including excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from tanning beds.
Folic acid deficiency is associated with mouth or peptic ulcers, pale, smooth, sore or burning tongue (glossitis), symptoms of megaloblastic or macrocytic anaemia like weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dyspnoea palpitations, constipation, diarrhoea, malabsorption and digestive disturbances, growth impairment, headaches, hypoesthesia, neurological symptoms like nerve damage, weakness, numbness (parasthesias), peripheral neuropathy, restless legs, depressed reflexes, apathy, headache, depression, insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, cognitive decline, paranoia, loss of appetite, anorexia, chronic fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
Folate is critical for fertility in both sexes, and is required before and after conception to prevent congenital malformations in the foetus. For this reason all women of child-bearing age are recommended to take a folate supplement.
About Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Folic acid is essential for methylation reactions in the body, the synthesis of vital neurotransmitters in the brain, the formation of nucleic acids like DNA involved in normal cell division, growth and bone marrow functioning, and the production of red blood cells.
Folate deficiency is becoming more common owing to modern diets and lifestyle factors which directly deplete the vitamin, including excess consumption of alcohol, smoking, the use of vitamin-depleting pharmaceutical drugs, excessive tanning bed use, and mal-absorptive bowel disorders. Folate deficiency is associated with a wide range of conditions that include haematological symptoms of megaloblastic anaemia (including weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations); neurological symptoms (including nerve damage, numbness, parasthesias, peripheral neuropathy, depressed reflexes, apathy, mood disturbances, irritability, insomnia, cognitive decline, dementia, and psychoses); and other health problems (that include glossitis, constipation, digestive disturbances, dyspnoea, and growth impairment). It may also be an underlying cause of various diseases like cataracts, cardio/peripheral/cerebro-vascular illness, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, neuralgia, neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, neuromuscular degeneration, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, epilepsy, neural tube defects and even Alzheimer’s disease.
These conditions often get misdiagnosed as illnesses in their own right by doctors and psychiatrists unfamiliar with this simple biochemical imbalance and they may resort to prescribing pharmaceutical drugs to manage symptoms without addressing the underlying cause. Folate deficiency responds well to the introduction of activated coenzyme form of folate.
What people think
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