What is a folic acid deficiency anemia?
Folic acid is an important component in the production of DNA. It is thus involved in cell formation and the growth of human cells, especially the red blood cells are dependent on folic acid. A deficiency can lead to anaemia and gastrointestinal problems.
A deficiency of folic acid can result from a lack of vitamin intake, for example in the case of a very unbalanced diet. Furthermore, problems with the utilisation of folic acid in the stomach or intestines can also lead to a folic acid deficiency. This is for example the case with chronic intestinal diseases. Furthermore, an increased folic acid requirement, as is the case during pregnancy or during growth, can lead to a deficiency of the vitamin.
The symptoms of folic acid deficiency anaemia
It can lead to gastrointestinal complaints in the context of anaemia, which manifests itself as diarrhoea or digestive disorders. Those affected can also suffer from headaches and also from a feeling of dizziness. Due to the anaemia, the skin colour and also mucous membranes can appear very pale or sallow.
If a folic acid deficiency is suspected, a blood sample is usually taken by a doctor. On the basis of the laboratory values it can be determined whether a deficiency is present. Typically, the red blood cells change their appearance in the case of folic acid anaemia.
They are larger than usual and also more stained. The staining results from the loading of the red blood pigment haemoglobin. If the above mentioned criteria are met, doctors refer to it as megaloblastic hyperchromic anaemia.
Furthermore, the folic acid level in the blood can be determined. As a rule, the folic acid values are above 2.5 ng/ml. A deficiency is referred to as a value below 2 ng/ml.
Folic acid is responsible for the proper formation of cells. A deficiency leads to changes in the blood cells – especially the red blood cells, the erythrocytes are affected. They appear larger than usual and are increasingly loaded with red blood pigment (so-called haemoglobin).
Not only the size of the erythrocytes is changed, but also their number. There are fewer erythrocytes because the body can no longer produce sufficient cells due to the deficiency. This results in anemia, which is also known as anemia in the technical jargon.
This megaloblastic hyperchromic anaemia is especially called folic acid deficiency. In addition to the red blood cells, the blood platelets (thrombocytes) and the white blood cells (leukocytes) can also be conspicuous by a reduction in the cell count. They too are dependent on folic acid. Furthermore, a deficiency in folic acid in the blood serum reduces the amount of folic acid in the blood – the values then fall below 2 ng/ml. .