Folic acid is also referred to as vitamin B9, folate, pteroylglutamic acid, and folacin. The term folic is derived from the Latin word folium, which means 'leaf'. Folic acid benefits are abundant; as they aid in cell division and growth, and assist in the production of healthy red blood cells. Sufficient intake of the nutrient helps in fighting anemia, a condition stimulated when folic acid is deficient in the body. An adult requires minimum 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, for proper functioning of the body. Let's discuss the symptoms, before navigating to the causes and treatment of the same.
- The most commonly observed symptom is irritation. Folic acid keeps the central nervous system healthy; however, lack of folic acid causes depression, sluggishness, and weakness.
- It is due to the deficiency of folic acid that some people report a heightened frequency of mood swings. When folic acid is not found in the recommended, adequate amounts; it has the potential to cause memory distortions, and inculcate depressive thought processes.
- Lack of folic acid might lead to loss of libido in males.
- Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy can affect the fetus in a negative way. Hence, pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant should consume enough folic acid, and its supplements. Deficiency of folic acid is one of the causes leading to abortion, and high infant death rate. Intake of sufficient amount of folic acid aids in the normal development of the baby's spine, and brain. Folate deficiency hampers the growth rate in children; in certain cases, resulting in mild to irreversible deformities.
- A decrease in appetite, diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems, and weight loss are also commonly observed symptoms of folic acid deficiency. People lacking folic acid also find it difficult to concentrate, and focus for a long time on a particular thing. They also appear pale.
- Different types of cancers have been associated with folic acid deficiency.
- Other symptoms which are less observed are as follows: abdominal pain, chest pain, cracked lips (especially at the edges), irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and sore and smooth tongue.
- Lack of folic acid can also cause a grayish brown skin pigmentation. It can also cause impaired circulation, hair fall, and fatigue.
- During pregnancy and lactation, the need for folic acid increases; however, if not fulfilled, it might lead to deficiency.
- Consumption of alcohol can also be a cause of folic acid deficiency. Alcohol increases the rate of folic acid breakdown and also interferes with folate metabolism.
- Malabsorption diseases, like, celiac diseases, and gastric diseases lead to low stomach acid, which can cause deficiency.
- Identify the reason for the lack of deficiency of folic acid in your body, and work toward replenishing the same, accordingly. In order to increase folic acid, you can eat foods high in folic acid; like, green, leafy vegetables (spinach and fenugreek).
- Increase the intake of salmon, soybean, and orange. Consumption of fresh, and dried beans helps in leveling the content of folic acid. Turnip greens, lettuce, asparagus, and sunflower seeds are a rich source of folic acid. Increase the content of folic acid foods like grain products, cereals, and enriched breads.
- You can also consume folic acid supplements. These supplements can be taken once, or twice a day, as prescribed by the medical practitioner.
If you consume a healthy diet, your folic acid level would remain consistent. After being informed about deficiency, I'm sure you will make an effort to increase its intake. So, consume a folic-rich diet, stay happy, and in good health!