Folic Acid Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Folic acid or vitamin B11 is a substance that occurs in the food we consume. In the event of a lack of this vitamin B11, certain symptoms may occur, after which it may be recommended to take extra folic acid in the form of tablets or capsules. Supplements with extra folic acid can help you to increase your resistance in case of illness.
Women who want to become pregnant are also advised to take extra folic acid tablets, especially since this vitamin is crucial for the development of the baby’s nervous system. The causes of folic acid deficiency are usually an unbalanced diet, excessive alcohol consumption, or intestinal disease. What are the symptoms of a folic acid deficiency and are there any side effects associated with dietary supplements?
What is folic acid or vitamin B11?
Folic acid is a substance also known by the classical name of vitamin B11. Folic acid is not produced by the body but we absorb it through the food we eat. Folic acid is mainly found in spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruits, and in whole grain products.
However, cooking food can lose much of the value of folic acid. For people who suffer from folate deficiency, nutritional supplements are available in pharmacies and on the internet in the form of tablets or capsules.
Folic acid function
Folic acid is a vitamin that has a crucial function in our body. It ensures the production of red blood cells that are essential for the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Folic acid also promotes the absorption of iron in the body. In addition, this vitamin also has an important function in the nervous system.
Folic acid deficiency and pregnancy
Because folic acid is so important for the nervous system, pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant take extra folic acid. This is mainly to ensure the healthy development of the unborn baby’s nervous system.
Folic acid can also prevent birth defects in the baby, such as a cleft lip or spina bifida. Taking extra folic acid during pregnancy is recommended because even with an extremely healthy diet you do not take enough folic acid for the proper development of the baby. An example of such a folic acid supplement for pregnant women is Pregnazon Complete Pregnancy.
Symptoms of folic acid deficiency
The complaints that occur as a result of a deficiency of folic acid are mainly situated in the area of digestion. Symptoms such as stomach pain and heartburn may be accompanied by nausea. Because the stomach causes problems, your appetite can also decrease. And by eating less you can also lose weight, so you have less energy and get tired faster. In this way, a folic acid deficiency can set off a chain reaction of symptoms.
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In addition, a deficiency of folic acid can also cause other complaints, which are mainly related to the function of folic acid for the nervous system and to less good absorption of iron. For example, you can suffer from headaches, dizziness, and reduced resistance. Sleeping problems can also occur with a shortage of this important vitamin.
Causes of folic acid deficiency
A lack of folic acid can have various causes. People who suffer from intestinal disease often have to take extra folic acid tablets because the intestine cannot absorb enough folic acid (for example, chronic intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis). In such diseases, a lot of folic acids and other important nutrients are lost through diarrhea and the internal consequences of inflammation.
Furthermore, a too-one-sided diet can also lead to a folic acid deficiency. When you eat too much of certain food products (eg fats, sugars) and a shortage of others (vegetables, fruit) then there is a problem with the balance in your diet. For example, think of people who follow a diet or people with little appetite.
People who often drink excessive amounts of alcohol can also suffer from a folic acid deficiency. In the long term, alcohol abuse can lead to impaired absorption of B vitamins, including B11 (folic acid) and B1. It is therefore no coincidence that alcoholics who want to give up alcohol are advised to take vitamin B supplements. In this way, the body is stimulated to absorb vitamin B and the withdrawal process can run more smoothly.
In addition, there are also medicines that can be associated with a lack of folic acid with long-term use (such as medicines for rheumatism, psoriasis, and epilepsy). It is best to ask your doctor for additional advice on whether in your case the folic acid deficiency can be due to the medicines you are taking.
Treatment of folic acid deficiency
You can treat a deficiency of folic acid by taking supplements with extra folic acid. Over time, the desired level of folic acid should be replenished. As a result, the mentioned symptoms of folic acid deficiency will gradually disappear and you will feel better in general. Some examples of folic acid supplements include:
- Vitortho Folic Acid
- Biotics Folic Acid
- Optimized Folic Acid
It is very rare for folic acid tablets to cause side effects. Side effects only occur with hypersensitivity to folic acid or with extremely high use of it. Hypersensitivity to this substance can be noticed by itching, rash, and fever. In the case of using very large amounts of folic acid, the following side effects can occur:
- intestinal complaints
- stomach problems
- feeling of irritation
- lack of appetite
- sleep disturbances
If there is no hypersensitivity to folic acid, or if you do not take extremely high doses of supplements, you will usually not suffer from side effects. Over time, the level of folic acid will be replenished. If you want to know whether this is the case, have the folic acid levels in your body measured on the basis of a blood analysis by your doctor.