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A deficiency of vitamin B9, or folic acid, is common and can occur if your body is unable to process nutrients properly. Some signs of vitamin B9 deficiency include: diarrhea, depression, changes to your tongue or feelings of confusion. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for this problem. If you are concerned about vitamin B9 deficiency, ask your doctor to test your blood.
Vitamin B9 is another name for folate or folic acid. Individuals in the early stages of folate deficiency may not show obvious symptoms, but blood levels of homocysteine may increase. Rapidly dividing cells are the most susceptible to folate deficiency. When the folate supply to the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow is inadequate, blood cell division becomes abnormal resulting in fewer but larger red blood cells (referred to as megaloblastic anemia). Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, become hypersegmented, a change found by microscopic examination. Because normal red blood cells have a lifetime of approximately four months, it can take several months for this anemia to develop. Progression of the anemia leads to a decreased oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and may yield symptoms of fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. It is important to point out that megaloblastic anemia resulting from folate deficiency is identical to the megaloblastic anemia resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency. Further clinical testing is required to diagnose the true cause of megaloblastic anemia by testing for B12 and folate status.
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