Folic Acid Deficiency

Several medical conditions increase the risk of folic acid deficiency but much more common is is a low level which causes no major symptoms but raises the risk of disease development. Certain conditions can adversely affect the absorption and levels of folic acid, such as:

  • alcohol abuse
  • malabsorption
  • kidney dialysis
  • liver disease
  • certain anemias

Folate deficiency has been observed in alcoholics, as alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and increases excretion of folate by the kidney. In addition, many people who abuse alcohol have poor quality diets that do not provide the recommended intake of folate

Deficieny symptoms can include:

  • anaemia (megaloblastic)
  • sore red tongue
  • chronic diarrhoea
  • poor gorwth in children
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • weakness
  • headaches
  • heart palpitations

Liver disease and kidney dialysis increase excretion (loss) of folic acid. Malabsorption can prevent your body from using folate in food. People who are on certain types of medications such as for cancer or epilepsy or who have malabsorption diseases like Coeliac disease or Crohn's disease are particularly susceptible to severe deficiency. Alcoholics similarly are at risk of not getting enough folic acid as it is destroyed by alcohol.