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Four Symptoms You May Have with a Folic Acid Deficiency: Causes and Prevention

Folic acid is an important nutrient for many body functions. Learn the signs of folic acid deficiency and how to increase your intake of this essential nutrient.

How Can We Identify These Symptoms?

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient in many foods that helps the body create new cells and produce DNA. 

Raised awareness of the importance of sufficient folate intake among pregnant and non-pregnant individuals by developing an informational campaign to identify the signs and symptoms of folic acid deficiency.

Unfortunately, folic acid deficiency is common in pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. This deficiency can lead to serious health consequences, including cognitive impairment and anemia, if left untreated. 

Those Symptoms Include: 

  • severe anaemia;
  • fatigue;
  • lack of energy;
  • headaches
  • feeling short of breath
  • tongue soreness;
  • pale skin;
  • pregnancy-related issues;
  • inflammatory bowel disease;
  • cognitive changes;
  • diarrhea;
  • depression;
  • swollen tongue;
  • muscle weakness.

If you have any reason to believe that you may have a folate deficiency, then it would be wise to visit your doctor as soon as possible so they can diagnose you properly and provide any necessary treatment plan. 

If untreated, serious complications such as cognitive impairment and birth defects may occur without this crucial vitamin!

Folate Deficiency Anemia

Anemia, medically defined as a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body, is a condition that a folate deficiency can cause. 

Folate deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia, although other deficiencies, such as iron, can also contribute to its development. 

Symptoms of Folate Deficiency Anaemia 

The symptoms of anemia are varied and include unexplained exhaustion and fatigue, pale skin, low energy levels and difficulty concentrating. More severe cases may feature dizziness or shortness of breath due to the lack of oxygen being delivered around the body by red blood cells. 

Red Blood Cell Production

Folic acid is essential for producing red blood cells in our bodies. It's a water-soluble form of vitamin B9 found naturally in some folate rich foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, beans and some citrus fruits. 

Folic acid also helps create proteins which help our bodies repair, maintain and grow new cells – including red blood cells! When our bodies don't get enough folic acid, it can lead to anemia because they don't have enough resources to produce new red blood cells. 

When someone has anemia, they are often prescribed supplements or dietary changes that will increase their consumption of folic acid suplement. 

Some individuals may need to take folate supplements if their diet does not contain enough sources of folic acid. 

Eating folate rich foods (the natural form of folic acid), such as spinach, kidney beans, lentils and asparagus, is another way to increase your intake levels without additional folate supplement. 

Furthermore, it is important for pregnant women to ensure that they have a healthy diet, which contains adequate amounts of folic acid since this nutrient plays an important role during fetal development!

Tongue Soreness

A sore tongue can be a sign of folate deficiency. Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient required for proper cell growth and development in the body. It plays an important role in producing red blood cells, regulating homocysteine levels in the body, and proper neurological functioning. A folate deficiency can lead to many health issues, including tongue soreness. 

Are You Experiencing a Sore Tongue ?

Tongue soreness from folate deficiency typically presents several symptoms, such as redness, swelling, painful sores or ulcers on the tongue, changes in taste sensation or loss of taste sensation altogether, dry mouth or increased saliva production, and discomfort or pain when eating or talking. 

In extreme cases where a person has very low levels of folic acid, glossitis (swelling and tongue inflammation) may occur, leading to further problems with eating and speaking. 

Safeguard Your Tongue With Folic Acid

Folic acid is necessary for proper mouth and tongue function because it aids cell regeneration within these tissues. Without enough folic acid, cell regeneration slows down, leading to various health problems and increasing the risk for conditions such as oral cancer and periodontal disease. 

Additionally, folic acid helps to protect against damage from free radicals that can cause inflammation inside the mouth, which contributes to soreness on the tongue and other issues associated with a lack thereof. 

If you are concerned about your intake of folic acid, speak with your doctor, who can assess if folic acid supplement may benefit you.

Pregnancy-Related Issues

Folate deficiency is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related issues, including neural tube defects in the developing fetus. 

This can occur when a pregnant woman does not have adequate amounts of folic acid in her diet or cannot absorb folic acid properly. Therefore, it is key for pregnant women to consume enough folic acid during their pregnancy to ensure that their baby has all the necessary nutrients for proper development.

Folate deficiency anaemia can have serious consequences, including the increased risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spinal cord and the backbone don't close properly during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It can cause physical and intellectual impairments, ranging from mild to severe.

Folate: An Essential Nutrient for a Healthy Pregnancy

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient for pregnant women and contributes to various bodily functions. It helps create and maintain new cells in the body, aids in DNA synthesis, and helps prevent birth defects by promoting normal fetal development. 

Additionally, it is important to prevent folate deficiency in order to not get certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Given its vital role in pregnancy and beyond, pregnant women should ensure they get enough folate while expecting. 

What is the Optimal Amount of Folic Acid?

The U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all women who could become pregnant get 400 micrograms (mcg) per day of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy to reduce their risk of having a baby with neural tube defect. 

For those women who are going to become pregnant, it is important to take 4,000 mcg/day each day beginning one month before becoming pregnant.

Additionally, it is advised that women who have had a pregnancy affected by an NTD should take 400 mcg/day, even if they are not hoping to conceive.

Ultimately it is vital that all women who could become pregnant ensure they receive enough folic acid during their pregnancies so that their baby will develop properly without any complications or birth defects related to this essential nutrient deficiency.

Cognitive Changes

Folic acid is an essential nutrient for the body and plays a significant role in keeping our brains healthy. Folate deficiency can lead to serious cognitive changes, such as memory loss and depression. 

Memory loss can have a serious impact on day-to-day life, affecting the ability to remember important information, remember recent events, or even recall things that have happened in the past. 

Depression can have wide-ranging effects, from affecting relationships and work performance to overall happiness and well-being. 

Improve Neurotransmitter Production

Adequate amounts of folic acid are important for proper brain functioning. It is essential for neurotransmitter production, which helps with overall cognitive skills, focus, concentration and memory. 

Neurotransmitters help regulate moods and emotions and help us better cope with stress and anxiety. Additionally, folic acid aids in the production of serotonin which has been linked to increased alertness and improved mental clarity. 

The Link Between Folic Acid and Mental Health

Recent research has also found evidence of a link between low folate levels (the natural form of folic acid) and mental health conditions such as depression. 

Studies suggest that people deficient in folate may be more prone to feeling depressed or anxious due to disruptions in neurotransmission pathways caused by deficiencies in other nutrients like B vitamins

People with lower folate levels may also experience difficulty concentrating or problems with short-term memory recall. 

Additional folic acid supplement may help improve symptoms associated with cognitive changes, including memory loss and depression, due to their positive effects on neurotransmitter production and synthesis within the brain cells.

What Causes Those Symptoms?

A lack of this nutrient can prevent the body from producing enough healthy red blood cells and lead to severe anemia. 

People who are at risk for folate deficiency include those with:

  • poor diets; 
  • or pregnant women; 

People with certain medical conditions, such as:

  • Crohn's disease;
  • Celiac disease;
  • Ulcerative colitis; 

Additionally, folate deficiency can cause macrocytic anemia, characterized by larger than normal red blood cells. 

What's the Treatment?

Folic acid is an essential nutrient for the body and plays a significant role in keeping our brains healthy. In order for adequate folate absorption, it needs to be present in sufficient amounts in the diet.

Foods rich in vitamin B9 include green leafy vegetables such as:

  • spinach and kale;
  • avocados;
  • beans;
  • lentils;
  • nuts & seeds like almonds & pumpkin seeds;
  • citrus fruits such as oranges & lemons;
  • bananas;
  • beef liver;
  • fortified breakfast cereals;
  • eggs;
  • pork;
  • sunflower seeds;
  • Brussels sprouts;
  • etc.

For those unable to obtain enough folate rich foods, folic acid tablets can be taken to make up for the difference. Folic acid supplements should always be taken under the supervision of a physician or nutritionist. 

Too much supplemental folic acid can have adverse effects, so it is always best to consult a doctor before taking any supplements. 

Additionally, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, always speak with your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for you and your baby. 


Folate deficiency can have serious medical implications for a person's health and development. It is important to be aware of the four main signs of folic acid deficiency so that it can be treated and managed effectively. 

The most common signs of folate deficiency anemia are poor growth, cognitive changes, anemia, and pregnancy complications. 

Folate deficiency anaemia can be diagnosed through a simple blood test which measures the level of folate in the blood. If the level of folate is low, this indicates that there is not enough folic acid in the body to produce healthy red blood cells in adequate amounts. This can result in a decrease in number of mature red blood cells which can lead to anemia. Treatment for folate deficiency anaemia usually involves taking a daily supplement of folic acid, as well as dietary changes in order to increase the intake of foods high in folate such as leafy greens and legumes.


Always consult with a doctor or nutritionist before taking any folic acid supplement, and if pregnant, speak with your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for you and your baby. 

By being mindful of the signs, symptoms and treatments associated with folate deficiency, we can work towards ensuring optimal physical and mental health.