Folic Acid Deficiency
Folic acid deficiency means that there is a lower than normal amount of folic acid in your blood. Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin, which means it cannot be stored in the body. You must get a continual supply of it.
This B vitamin plays a role in:
- Building proteins in the body
- Producing DNA
- Helping to form red blood cells
Scanning Electron Micrograph of Red Blood Cells
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There are several causes of folic acid deficiency, including the following:
Inadequate dietary intake of folic acid due to:
- Limited consumption of fresh, minimally cooked food
- Chronic alcoholism
- Long-term need for intravenous nutrition (total parenteral nutrition)
Inadequate absorption of folic acid due to:
- Malabsorption syndromes, such as celiac disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Drug interactions, such as anticonvulsant medicines and oral contraceptives
- Bariatric surgery
Increased need for folic acid due to:
- Malignancy, such as cancer
- Increased loss that can occur from hemodialysis
- Impaired use that can occur from certain medications, such as methotrexate
Last reviewedDecember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.