Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. It
helps produce red blood cells. Low levels of folic acid (also called folate) in
the body decrease production of red blood cells and cause
folic acid deficiency anemia.
People with the eating disorder
anorexia nervosa severely limit how much they eat,
including those foods that contain folic acid.
Having an increased need for folic acid, as might
Pregnancy. Pregnant women need additional
folic acid to protect their babies from birth defects, especially defects in
the spine, the brain, or the bone and skin (neural tube defects).
Blood disorders called hemolytic anemias, such as
sickle cell anemia, that use up the body's supply of
Diseases that cause rapid cell growth, such as
An increased rate of the
chemical processes that take place in the body (metabolism), as
might happen with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). This uses up the body's store of
folic acid faster than it is absorbed.
Not absorbing or retaining folic acid.
Drinking too much alcohol interferes with
the absorption of folic acid in the body, because alcohol increases the amount
of folic acid that is lost through the urine.
People who have
severe kidney problems may need to have a procedure that cleans the blood
(hemodialysis), which increases folic acid
Uncommon disorders in the intestines, such as celiac
sprue, can interfere with the body's ability to absorb
Taking certain medicines, including:
Methotrexate, which is used for
rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers.