Our body does not produce Folic acid ( vitamin B9) like the rest of the B vitamins thus we have to get it from our diet.
Only plants, bacteria and fungi have the capacity to produce folic acid.
However, healthy people can store from 500 to 20,000 micrograms of folic acid in the body. When these people lack folic acid in their diet, they will not show the deficiency right away.
Their folic acid stored in their body is able to compensate for the short supply of this vitamin.
Folic acid deficiency is determined by counting the folic acid and vitamin B12 content in the blood.
- When a pregnant woman lacks folate in her diet, it can affect the baby's ability to produce normal cells which results to neural tube defects in newborn babies. The baby could come out with harelip problems.
Since cell production is at its peak during pregnancy, the amount of folic acid taken by the mother should be more than enough to fuel the vigorous cell production taking place in her body during that delicate stage in her baby's development.
- Folic acid deficiency can increase the body's homocysteine level
Homocysteine also interacts with vitamin B12 and B6 and is affected by kidney function and heredity. One way to differentiate folic acid deficiency from vitamin B12 deficiency is by using the methylmalonic acid (MMA) level test. If the MMA level is normal it is folic acid deficiency. If the MMA is high, it is vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Folic acid deficiency affects the production and repair of damaged DNA which could lead to the formation of cancer cells.
- Folic acid deficiency affects the production of healthy red blood cells that can lead to megaloblastic anemia.
- Folic acid deficiency can lead to glossitis, diarrhea, depression, confusion, and anemia.
Drinking alcohol makes folic acid deficiency worse.