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Women of childbearing age, people who abuse alcohol, anyone taking anti-convulsants or other medications that interfere with the action of folate, individuals diagnosed with anemia from folate deficiency, and individuals with malabsorption, liver disease, or who are receiving kidney dialysis treatment may benefit from a folic acid supplement.

Folic acid is very important for all women who may become pregnant. Adequate folate intake during the periconceptual period, the time just before and just after a woman becomes pregnant, protects against a number of congenital malformations including neural tube defects. Neural tube defects result in malformations of the spine (spina bifida), skull, and brain (anencephaly). The risk of neural tube defects is significantly reduced when supplemental folic acid is consumed in addition to a healthful diet prior to and during the first month following conception. Women who could become pregnant are advised to eat foods fortified with folic acid or take supplements in addition to eating folate-rich foods to reduce the risk of some serious birth defects. Taking 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily from fortified foods and/or supplements has been suggested. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for folate equivalents for pregnant women is 600 micrograms.

Folate deficiency has been observed in alcoholics. A 1997 review of the nutritional status of chronic alcoholics found low folate status in more than 50 percent of those surveyed. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and increases excretion of folate by the kidney. In addition, many alcohol abusers have poor quality diets that do not provide the recommended intake of folate. Increasing folate intake through diet, or folic acid intake through fortified foods or supplements, may be beneficial to the health of alcoholics.

Anti-convulsant medications such as dilantin increase the need for folate. Anyone taking anticonvulsants and other medications that interfere with the body’s ability to use folate should consult with a medical doctor about the need to take a folic acid supplement. Anemia is a condition that occurs when red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen. It can result from a wide variety of medical problems, including folate deficiency. Folate deficiency can result in the formation of large red blood cells that do not contain adequate hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s cells. Your physician can determine whether an anemia is associated with folate deficiency and whether supplemental folic acid is indicated.

Several medical conditions increase the risk of folic acid deficiency. Liver disease and kidney dialysis increase excretion (loss) of folic acid. Malabsorption can prevent your body from using folate in food. Medical doctors treating individuals with these disorders will evaluate the need for a folic acid supplement. Caution about folic acid supplements Beware of the interaction between vitamin B12 and folic acid. Folic acid supplements can correct the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, folic acid will not correct changes in the nervous system that result from vitamin B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated. Intake of supplemental folic acid should not exceed 1,000 micrograms (mcg) per day to prevent folic acid from masking symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.

It is very important for older adults to be aware of the relationship between folic acid and vitamin B12 because they are at greater risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are 50 years of age or older, ask your physician to check your B12 status before you take a supplement that contains folic acid.

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  • Filed under: Folic Acid Deficiency
  • The debate about the necessity of taking dietary supplements is still alive. While numerous doctors maintain we get all that we require from the foods we eat, others prefer to offer supplementary vitamins when their patients are under stress such as pregnancy, illness or even aging.

    Studies have shown that taking supplementary B group vitamins, specifically folic acid and B12 have reduced birth defects from 72 to 100%. Since regulations authorizing the addition of folic acid to grains have come into play, the incidence of birth defects in the United States has lessened by 19%, though skeptics claim there could be alternate reasons.

    - Symptoms of folate deficiency.

    If your tongue is swollen and you suffer from loss of appetite, shortness of breath, are irritable, forgetful and mentally sluggish, you may have a folate deficiency. Folic acid is one of the B group of vitamins. Most animal and plant foods are poor sources of it. The exception is liver which most folks do not eat a lot of these days.

    Various habits and diseases also play a greater share in causing a lack of this vitamin. Celiac disease, alcoholism and irritable bowel syndrome just to name a few. Studies have also suggested that when ageing individuals suffer from depression it may be caused by a lack of folate vitamin B9.

    Folate should be taken with B6 And B12 vitamins to help its absorption and function in the body. These three vitamins work together to help relieve symptoms of depression. They do this by lowering the amount of homocysteine, which is thought to play an active roll in causing depression.

    Several population-based studies around the United States have shown that various cancers are less ubiquitous in people who have high levels of folic acid. These people consumed high amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. One study of 50,000 women revealed that adequate consumption of folate significantly reduced the chances of breast cancer.

    Some prescription medications for inflammatory bowel disease have been found to interfere with the bodies proficiency to absorb folate. This deficiency has as well been linked to male infertility and heart disease. Foods that offer the most folic acid are dark leafy greens, brewers yeast, beef liver, various seafood, orange juice and milk. Root vegetables and whole grains also provide diminutive amounts.

    Side effects from folic acid supplements are uncommon, though they can occur if the dose exceeds 15000 mcg per day. Taking any one of the B group of vitamins alone can cause a deficiency in the others. Find out if you actually do need it and make certain your doctor knows you plan to take it. Some prescription medication like antibiotics and warfarin can interact adversely to this supplement, while others like ibuprofen and aspirin may cause a deficiency.

    Methotrexate, used to treat some cancer and rheumatoid arthritis elevates the body’s need for folic acid. Its side-effects are largely reduced by the addition of this vitamin without impairing its advantage, so if you must take this drug, be sure see your doctor about adding folic acid to your diet.

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  • Filed under: Anemia
  • Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid – both are needed for the normal formation of red blood cells. An inadequate dietary intake of either of these two B vitamins results in faulty cell division and large, misshapen red blood cells that are unable to transport oxygen.

    1. A deficiency of folic acid may contribute to megaloblastic anemia
    2. A deficiency of vitamin B12 may contribute to megaloblastic anemia
    3. Copper, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6 – are needed for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, and a long-term deficiency of one or more of these nutrients results in anemia. Vitamin C is necessary for optimal absorption of iron.
    4. A deficiency of copper may contribute to early hypochromic anemia or microcytic anemia
    5. A deficiency of vitamin C may contribute to anemia as a symptom of scurvy. An abundant supply of vitamin C is needed to hold iron in the body
    6. A deficiency of vitamin B6 may contribute to microcytic anemia
    7. A deficiency of vitamin E may contribute to hemolytic anemia

    Vitamin E – is necessary for the protection of red blood cells once they are formed. This antioxidant protects red blood cell membranes and inadequate dietary intake of this fat-soluble vitamin results in hemolytic anemia.

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  • Filed under: Anemia
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