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Folate deficiency

Folate deficiency
Classification & external resources
Folic acid (B9)
ICD-10 D52. E53.8
ICD-9 266.2
DiseasesDB 4894
MedlinePlus 000354
eMedicine med/802 
MeSH D005494

Signs of folic acid deficiency are often subtle.



Diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss can occur. Additional signs are weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, and behavioral disorders.[1]

Women with folate deficiency who become pregnant are more likely to give birth to low birth weight and premature infants, and infants with neural tube defects.

In adults, anemia (Macrocytic, Megaloblastic anemia) is a sign of advanced folate deficiency.

In infants and children, folate deficiency can slow growth rate.

Late studies suggested an involvement in tumorogenesis (especially in colon) through demethylation/hypomethylation of fast replicating tissues.

Some of these symptoms can also result from a variety of medical conditions other than folate deficiency. It is important to have a physician evaluate these symptoms so that appropriate medical care can be given.


A deficiency of folate can occur when your need for folate is increased, when dietary intake of folate is inadequate, and when your body excretes (or loses) more folate than usual. Medications that interfere with your body's ability to use folate may also increase the need for this vitamin.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Some research indicates that exposure to ultraviolet light, including the use of tanning beds, can lead to a folic acid deficiency. [1] The evolution of human skin color is partly controlled by the need to have dark skin in the tropics to protect folic acid from ultraviolet light.


Some situations that increase the need for folate include:


Medications can interfere with folate utilization, including:

Folic acid supplements are normally given with sulfasalazine. The purpose of methotrexate is to inhibit dihydrofolate reductase and thereby reduce the rate de novo purine and pyrimidine synthesis and cell division. It may therefore be counter-productive to take a folic acid supplement with methotrexate. Although the folic acid inhibition of sulfasalazine is normally seen as a side effect, it is possible that it is a part of the therapeutic effect of the drug, given that methotrexate, a frank folic acid inhibitor, is often given if sulfasalazine fails. It would therefore be wise to consult with a physician before taking a folic acid supplement along with sulfasalazine or methotrexate.


  1. ^ Haslam N and Probert CS. (1998). "An audit of the investigation and treatment of folic acid deficiency". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 91 (2): 72-3. PMID 9602741.
  2. ^ Oakley GP Jr, Adams MJ, Dickinson CM (1996). "More folic acid for everyone, now". Journal of Nutrition 126 (3): 751S-755S. PMID 8598560.
  3. ^ McNulty H (1995). "Folate requirements for health in different population groups". British Journal of Biomedical Science 52 (2): 110-9. PMID 8520248.
  4. ^ Stolzenberg R (1994). "Possible folate deficiency with postsurgical infection". Nutrition in Clinical Practice 9 (6): 247-50. PMID 7476802.
  5. ^ Pietrzik KF and Thorand B (1997). "Folate economy in pregnancy". Nutrition 13 (11-12): 975-7. PMID 9433714.
  6. ^ Kelly GS (1998). "Folates: Supplemental forms and therapeutic applications". Altern Med Rev 3 (3): 208-20. PMID 9630738.
  7. ^ Cravo ML, Gloria LM, Selhub J, Nadeau MR, Camilo ME, Resende MP, Cardoso JN, Leitao CN, Mira FC (1996). "Hyperhomocysteinemia in chronic alcoholism: correlation with folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 status". The American journal of clinical nutrition 63 (2): 220-4. PMID 8561063.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Folate_deficiency". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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