What is a folic acid deficiency?
Folic acid is an important vitamin for the body, which is absorbed through food. It is essential for many processes in the body. Among other things, it is important for cell division.
A deficiency therefore causes discomfort, especially in cells that divide frequently. This includes, for example, the red blood cells. For this reason, folic acid deficiency leads to anemia, among other things. Folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the western world.
Causes of folic acid deficiency
A folic acid deficiency can be caused by the following factors:
- One cause of folic acid deficiency can be malnutrition. Chronic alcoholics are particularly affected by this. Furthermore, an insufficient intake of folic acid can also occur with a one-sided diet, as is more common among older people.
- In certain cases the need for folic acid is also increased.
- Diseases that are associated with poorer food intake via the intestines can lead to folic acid deficiency. These include diseases that are associated with weight loss, such as tumor diseases.
An overactive thyroid can also lead to a folic acid deficiency.
- Furthermore, drugs can also cause a folic acid deficiency. These include folic acid antagonists which block the activation step of folic acid in the body. Here thus not the lack of admission is the problem. One drug in this group is methotrexate, which is used in tumor and autoimmune diseases.
You can recognize a folic acid deficiency by these symptoms
The folic acid deficiency leads to anemia, which in turn leads to fatigue. fatigue and reduced performance. Furthermore, it leads to paleness, which can be easily recognized by the mucous membranes.
In some cases, breathing difficulties can occur under stress. The symptoms do not indicate that the anaemia is due to a folic acid deficiency. The exact clarification must be carried out by a doctor.
In general, there is a paleness of the skin. This is particularly noticeable on the mucous membrane. The skin also becomes drier and cracked.
They usually lose their shine and often lie limp. A good cell structure is important for a healthy hair structure. This is impaired by folic acid deficiency.
The anemia caused by folic acid deficiency must usually be treated. It manifests itself through paleness, reduced resilience and tiredness. A folic acid deficiency is often diagnosed when the cause of anemia is investigated.
Due to the insufficient amount of folic acid in the body, not enough blood cells can be produced. However, since the body can still produce sufficient hemoglobin (the pigment of the red blood cells), the red blood cells are relatively loaded with more hemoglobin than normal. As a result, they are larger and have a higher hemoglobin content.
This type of anemia is also called megaloblastic anemia. It can also occur due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. or Megaloblastic anemiaNeurological symptoms are not typical of folic acid deficiency, although they cannot be ruled out.
Alcoholics in particular suffer not only from a folic acid deficiency but also from a vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to very similar consequences and much more frequently to neurological symptoms. Neurological symptoms that can occur are gait insecurity, paralysis and sensations such as tingling sensations. But psychological changes are also possible.
The symptoms can usually be significantly improved by the intake of folic acid and possibly also vitamin B12. However, they cannot be reversed in every case. Neurological symptoms occur more frequently as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency than with folic acid deficiency.