Folate Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

Warning signs and symptons that you might be deficient in folic acid. Most parents-to-be know that a high intake of folic acid is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. However, fewer are aware of just how important this Vitamin B9 is for overall well-being. Folic acid is involved in the production and repair of DNA, as well as the creation of red blood cells. In severe signs of folate deficiency anemia may develop. This is a type of anemia in which blood cells become enlarged and their functionality is impaired.

Most folate deficiency cases come from poor diet. It’s also possible for excessive alcohol consumption, certain bowel disorders, cancer and inflammatory diseases to develop.

Changes to the Tongue

One of the most prominent indications of a folate deficiency is glossitis—a painful, reddened tongue that is tender to the touch. You may first notice glossitis when it hurts to swallow or speak. You may also notice the change in color when you examine your tongue because you feel swelling. A tongue with glossitis may also have a smoother surface, due to the disappearance of normal bumps called papillae. Your dentist may mention this change to you before any pain even starts.

Grey Hair

Some people go grey younger than others, but if you’re barely past 20 and noticing grey hair growing it could be to low folate levels. Problems with the pituitary gland can also cause these changes in hair pigmentation. If it turns out that there is an underlying medical issue, your newly grey hair could return to their original color once the imbalance is addressed with treatment.

Numbness Symptoms

If you ever experience a sudden onset of extreme numbness, seek medical care immediately. Especially if the numbness is one-sided, as this can indicate a stroke. If you’re suffering from reduced feeling in your feet and hands, a folate deficiency may be the cause. Numbness may be paired with irritating pins and needles sensations in your extremities. A neurological workup may be necessary, but it’s smart to rule out simpler problems like low folate levels.

Ulcers of the Mouth

Most people get a mouth ulcer every now and again—these round sores can really hurt (especially if they’re on the inside of your cheeks or gums), but they are generally harmless. If you start developing constant mouth ulcers or repeated crops of numerous mouth ulcers, everything from stress to hormonal fluctuations could be playing a role. However, folate deficiency is a relatively common cause of recurrent mouth ulcers, so take them seriously—especially if they are seen in conjunction with several other symptoms on this list.


Just as iron deficiency anemia can cause lethargy, so too can folate deficiency anemia. Patients often complain of waking feeling unrested, reduced tolerance to exercise, and breathlessness. These symptoms develop because abnormally large red blood cells are incapable of effectively carrying hemoglobin (and therefore oxygen) around the body.

Depression Symptoms

A lack of adequate folic acid in your system can also influence your mental health, lowering your mood. If you don’t have a history of depression and struggling with traumatic life changes, a quick blood test can tell if a folate shortage may be the culprit. Some people with a folate deficiency report irritability rather than depression, so a short temper can also be a symptom.

Weak Muscles

Muscle weakness may become apparent when you’re having a difficult time doing a workout that used to be easy. Including when you’re just walking up the stairs and find yourself wondering if you can make it to the top. Your muscles may also feel achier than usual after moving around.

Cognitive Impairment

The cognitive impairments associated with a folate deficiency can be similar to the symptoms of dementia. If severe yhou may struggle to remember things with short term memory. It may be harder for you to process new facts, and others might note that your judgment seems to be impaired.

Digestive Problems

A folate deficiency frequently prompts uncomfortable changes in digestive function. Diarrhea is the most common presentation, but you may also experience trapped wind, bloating or intestinal cramps.

Skin Tone Symptoms

Any type of anemia can lead to pale skin.  If people keep remarking that you look like you’re under the weather then it may be time to have your blood tested. Folate deficiency can also cause you to develop a pale complexion that has yellow undertones. If you apply makeup and find that your usual foundation and concealer no longer seem to match your skin, a lack of folic acid could be the reason.

Daily doses of folic acid can quickly help you to feel better, but it’s also worth considering how you might improve your diet. Some of the best food sources of folate include fortified breads and cereals, brown rice, asparagus, broccoli, peas and Brussels sprouts.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to test your folate levels if you are concerned about Folate deficiency symptoms.

The Vitamins

Substantial updates have been made to chapters on vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, and the quasi-vitamins Provides checklists of systems affected by vitamin deficiencies and food sources of vitamins Key concepts, learning objectives, vocabulary,case studies, study questions and additional reading lists are included making this ideally suited for students Thoroughly updated with important recent research results, including citations to key reports, many added tables

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