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Low Hemoglobin Due to Folic Acid

by
author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Low Hemoglobin Due to Folic Acid
A 3-oz. serving of beef provides 185 mg of folic acid. Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen. Folate, or folic acid -- also known as vitamin B-9 -- is needed to produce red blood cells, which house homoglobin. Your hemoglobin will become low if you do not get enough folic acid. This is called anemia. Not getting enough vitamin B-12 also causes low hemoglobin. Your doctor will performed a test to verify whether your low hemoglobin is caused by a folic acid or B-12 deficiency.

Folic Acid Function

Folic acid helps your body produce new cells and is needed for red blood cell formation. Red blood cells transport oxygen and nutrients throughout your body to perform body functions. Folic acid also helps protect against birth defects. You need extra folic acid if you are pregnant. Green leafy vegetables, such as turnip greens are rich in folic acid. Some cereals are fortified with folic acid and fruits like cantaloupe and papaya provide it as well.

Abnormal Results

Your physician can perform and interpret a hemoglobin test that measures your hemoglobin blood levels. Normal hemoglobin results range from 12.1 to 15.1 gm/dL, if you are female and 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dL, if you are male. Several factors can cause or contribute to a folic acid deficiency, resulting in lower than normal hemoglobin. Not eating enough folic acid containing foods is a common cause. Other factors include malabsorption and internal bleeding.

Symptoms

When your hemoglobin decreases due to folic acid deficiency, you can experience a range of symptoms. Since hemoglobin transports oxygen, the most common symptom is fatigue because your muscles and organs are oxygen deprived. Other symptoms include swollen or tingling lips and tongue, diarrhea, mouth ulcers and early graying.

Prevention and Treatment

The recommended daily allowance of folic acid is 400 ug daily, if you are an adult aged 19 or older. A diet rich in folic acid can help prevent deficiency. If you are diagnosed with low hemoglobin due to a folic acid deficiency, the treatment is fairly simple and involves folic acid supplementation and dietary changes. If you have a condition that prevents the absorption of folic acid, you may need long-term supplementation. Consult your doctor before you take folic acid supplements.

Risk Factors

Chronic alcohol consumption increases your risk for folic acid deficiency because it can destroy gastric mucosa that help your body absorb vitamins and nutrients. Other risk factors include stomach surgery and conditions like leukemia.

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