Vitamin B9 deficiency

What is Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) Deficiency?

Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, is an essential B vitamin that plays an important role in mental and emotional health. Vitamin B9 deficiency occurs when a person does not get enough folate from their diet, or when their body doesn't absorb enough of the vitamin.

Folate is necessary for the body to produce red blood cells, and to synthesize DNA. A deficiency in this important B vitamin can cause a wide variety of health problems, some of which can be serious.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B9 Deficiency

Common signs and symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and constipation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anemia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Impaired growth in children
  • Mood changes, such as irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Sore or swollen tongue
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet

Causes of Vitamin B9 Deficiency

The primary cause of vitamin B9 deficiency is not getting enough of the vitamin in your diet or not being able to absorb it properly. People at risk of developing a vitamin B9 deficientcy include:

  • Alcoholics
  • People with malabsoprtion syndromes, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or cystic fibrosis
  • People taking certain medications, such as methotrexate, phenobarbital, or some anticonvulsants
  • Pregnant women
  • People over the age of 50
  • Vegetarians and vegans

Treating Vitamin B9 Deficiency

Treatment for vitamin B9 deficiency depends on the underlying cause. The best way to reduce your risk of deficiency is to include folate-rich foods in your diet, such as:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

Your doctor may also prescribe a Vitamin B9 supplement if necessary.

Vitamin B9 deficiency can be dangerous and lead to serious health problems. If you think you may be at risk of a vitamin B9 deficiency, consult your doctor for advice.