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Tired all the time? You could have a folate deficiency

Folate deficiency, otherwise known as Vitamin B12 anaemia, is relatively common but would you know the symptoms?  Here’s what you need to know…

What is a folate deficiency?

A folate or Vitamin B12 deficiency is a type of anaemia where the body produces unusually large red blood cells that are deficient in haemoglobin which is needed to enable oxygen uptake.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 (folate) deficiency include:

  • extreme fatigue
  • lack of energy
  • muscle weakness
  • problems with mental agility,
  • depression
  • occasionally a sore, swollen tongue or mouth ulcers
  • possible changes to skin pallor
  • eyesight may diminish
  • possible pins and needles sensation

What causes folate deficiency?

The main causes of Vitamin B12 (folate) deficiency may be due to:

  • a malabsorption of nutrients in the stomach or intestine (such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease)
  • following a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • medication used to minimise stomach acid production
  • other illnesses of the renal or hepatic systems

How to diagnose folate deficiency

A folate or Vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be confirmed by a simple blood test.  The blood test specifically looks at your red blood cell count, how they are functioning and how much haemoglobin is present.

The blood test can be carried out by your local GP or nurse practitioner.  Your GP will look at the results of the blood test and along with your symptoms will determine whether you are suffering from this deficiency.

Treatment of folate deficiency

If you have been diagnosed with Vitamin B12 anaemia then you will be advised to maintain a good healthy balanced diet.  Supplements or Vitamin B12 injections may also be prescribed.

Your GP should also investigate the cause of your deficiency and may well refer you to a gastroenterologist or dietitian.

If you feel that you have any of the above symptoms then we would advise you to book an appointment with your GP so you can be fully assessed and tested.

Visit our diet and exercise section for helpful advice on how to eat a healthy balanced diet.

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