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Folate deficiency

  • Definition

    Folate deficiency means you have a lower-than-normal amount of folic acid, a type of B vitamin, in your blood.

    See also: Folic acid


    Alternative Names

    Deficiency - folic acid, Folic acid deficiency


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Folic acid works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use, and create new proteins. The vitamin helps form red blood cells and produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information.

    Folic acid is a type of B vitamin. It is water-soluble, which means it cannot be stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine.

    Because folate is not stored in the body in large amounts, you need a continual supply of this vitamin through your diet to maintain normal levels.

    You can get folate by eating green leafy vegetables and liver.

    Causes of folate deficiency are:

    • Certain medications, such as phenytoin (Dilantin)
    • Diseases in which folic acid is not absorbed as well, such as celiac disease (sprue) or alcoholism
    • Eating overcooked food
    • Poor diet (often seen in the poor, the elderly, and people who do not eat fresh fruits or vegetables)
    • Excess folic acid needs during the third trimester of pregnancy
    • Hemolytic anemia