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Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia

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What is folic acid deficiency anemia?

Folic acid deficiency anemia happens when your body does not have enough folic acid. Folic acid is one of the B vitamins, and it helps your body make new cells, including new red blood cells camera.gif. Your body needs red blood cells to carry oxygen. If you don't have enough red blood cells, you have anemia, which can make you feel weak and tired. So it's important that you get enough folic acid every day.

Most people get enough folic acid in the food they eat. But some people either don't get enough in their diet or have trouble absorbing it from the foods they eat. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take a daily vitamin with folic acid.

Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are more likely to have babies with very serious birth defects.

What causes folic acid deficiency anemia?

You can get folic acid deficiency anemia if:

  • You don't eat enough foods that contain folic acid. These include citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fortified cereals.
  • You have a greater need for folic acid. This might happen if you are pregnant or have some medical problems, such as sickle cell disease.
  • Your body doesn't absorb enough folic acid. This might happen if you drink too much alcohol or have severe kidney problems that require dialysis.
  • You take certain medicines, such as some used for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and seizures.

What are the symptoms?

Anemia may make you:

  • Feel weak and tired.
  • Feel lightheaded.
  • Be forgetful.
  • Feel grouchy.
  • Lose your appetite and lose weight.
  • Have trouble concentrating.

How is folic acid deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your past health and how you are feeling now. You will also have blood tests to check the number of red blood cells and to see if your body has enough folic acid.

The level of vitamin B12 will be checked too. Some people whose folic acid levels are too low also have low levels of vitamin B12. The two problems can cause similar symptoms.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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