The major deficiency symptoms of Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) is megaloblastic anemia, depression, irritability, tiredness, loss of appetite etc. If it is deficient in pregnant women, it can cause neural tube defects in babies.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the immune system, protects the heart, enhances proper growth and development, uplifts mood and improves memory and thought process. Insufficiency of such an important vitamin can cause serious problems in the body.
Deficiency Symptoms of Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
Here are some symptoms of folic acid deficiency:
Having low levels of folic acid in the blood can cause folate-deficiency anemia. Folic acid, a B-complex vitamin is required by the body for the production of red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen to the various organs of the body.
A drop in the level of red blood cells reduces the supply of oxygen to the organs and causes anemia, which may make you feel tired, pale and weak. It is important to regularly supply your body with rich food sources of folic acid in order to prevent anemia. (1)
Research has found that low level of folic acid in the blood increases the risk of depression. Besides this, folic acid deficiency also reduces the effectiveness of anti-depressant drugs.
Correcting folic acid level may help in the treatment of depression. It was observed that individuals treated with folic acid exhibited an improvement in the mood than those who did not receive such a treatment.
Folic acid is also linked to the production of ‘feel good chemicals’ in the brain. Lack of folic acid reduces the production of such brain chemicals, which can have a negative impact on your mood and social behavior. (2)
Increases the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Insufficiency of folic acid increases the accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides in the brain. These peptides form plaques in the brain, which destroy the healthy brain cells and lead to the loss of memory thus, causing Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating a diet rich in folic acid slows down cognitive decline and improves health of the brain and nerve cells. Moreover, folic acid interferes with the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain and improves cognitive function. (3)
Poor Heart Health
High level of homocysteine causes hardening of the arteries and the formation of blood clots. This increases the overall risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Studies have found that folic acid is effective in lowering homocysteine level in the blood and thus, it protects against heart diseases.
In the absence of sufficient folic acid, the level of homocysteine in the blood goes up and causes damage to the overall heart health. Hence, getting adequate folic acid is beneficial for the heart. (4)
Developmental Problems During Pregnancy
Poor maternal folate status is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, birth defects of the spine and the brain. Women who get sufficient folic acid before and during early pregnancy decrease the risk of neural tube defects in their baby.
Folic acid plays an important role in the development of DNA and in the formation and growth of tissues and cells. When folic acid levels are low, adequate growth and fetal development are affected. Therefore, consuming folic acid rich foods is important for women before and during pregnancy. (5)
Poor Immune System
Severe deficiency of folic acid could hamper the immune system. This vitamin is required to make and repair DNA as well as it is needed for the growth and development of the cells. A drop in the level of folic acid increases the susceptibility of DNA to damage. Such a deficiency reduces the production of immune cells and lowers resistance to infections. (6)