Learn About Folate-Deficiency Anemia

What is the definition of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate-deficiency anemia is a decrease in red blood cells (anemia) due to a lack of folate. Folate is a type of B vitamin. It is also called folic acid.

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

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What are the causes of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate (folic acid) is needed for red blood cells to form and grow. You can get folate by eating green leafy vegetables and liver. However, your body does not store folate in large amounts. So, you need to eat plenty of folate-rich foods to maintain normal levels of this vitamin.

In folate-deficiency anemia, the red blood cells are abnormally large. Such cells are called macrocytes. They are also called megaloblasts, when they are seen in the bone marrow. That is why this anemia is also called megaloblastic anemia.

Causes of this type of anemia include:

  • Too little folic acid in your diet
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Long-term alcoholism
  • Use of certain medicines (such as phenytoin [Dilantin], methotrexate, sulfasalazine, triamterene, pyrimethamine, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and barbiturates)

The following raise your risk for this type of anemia:

  • Alcoholism
  • Eating overcooked food
  • Poor diet (often seen in the poor, the older people, and people who do not eat fresh fruits or vegetables)
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight loss diets

Folic acid is needed to help a baby in the womb grow properly. Too little folic acid during pregnancy may lead to birth defects in a baby.

What are the symptoms of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Pallor
  • Sore mouth and tongue
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What are the current treatments for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

The goal is to identify and treat the cause of the folate deficiency.

You may receive folic acid supplements by mouth, injected into muscle, or through a vein (in rare cases). If you have low folate levels because of a problem with your intestines, you may need treatment for the rest of your life.

Diet changes can help boost your folate level. Eat more green, leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Who are the top Folate-Deficiency Anemia Local Doctors?
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National Taiwan University


Andy Sun is in Taiwan. Sun is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. He is also highly rated in 19 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Glossitis, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, Folate-Deficiency Anemia, and Folate Deficiency.

Highly rated in

National Taiwan University


Chun-pin Chiang is in Taiwan. Chiang is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. They are also highly rated in 24 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Folate Deficiency, and Glossitis.

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Highly rated in

National Taiwan University


Julia Chang is in Taiwan. Chang is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Folate-Deficiency Anemia. She is also highly rated in 17 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Folate-Deficiency Anemia, Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia, Pernicious Anemia, and Low Potassium Level.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Folate-deficiency anemia most often responds well to treatment within 3 to 6 months. It will likely get better when the underlying cause of the deficiency is treated.

What are the possible complications of Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Symptoms of anemia can cause discomfort. In pregnant women, folate deficiency has been associated with neural tube or spinal defects (such as spina bifida) in the infant.

Other, more severe complications may include:

  • Curly graying hair
  • Increased skin color (pigment)
  • Infertility
  • Worsening of heart disease or heart failure
When should I contact a medical professional for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of folate deficiency anemia.

How do I prevent Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Eating plenty of folate-rich foods can help prevent this condition.

Experts recommend that women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before they get pregnant and through the first 3 months of their pregnancy.

Megaloblastic anemia - view of red blood cells
Blood cells
What are the latest Folate-Deficiency Anemia Clinical Trials?
Strategies to Increase Antenatal Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation and Malaria Prophylaxis in Rural South-central Côte d'Ivoire: Study Protocol of a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial
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Clinical Characteristics and Pathogenic Mechanisms of Anemia in Non-celiac Wheat Sensitivity Compared to Celiac Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What are the Latest Advances for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?
Which is the role of the oral iron therapies for iron deficiency anemia in non-dialysis-dependent chronic kidney disease patients? Results from clinical experience.
Related factors of atrophic glossitis in 124 consecutive cases.
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A pilot study on secondary anemia in "frailty" patients treated with Ferric Sodium EDTA in combination with vitamin C, folic acid, copper gluconate, zinc gluconate and selenomethionine: safety of treatment explored by HRV non-linear analysis as predictive factor of cardiovascular tolerability.
What are our references for Folate-Deficiency Anemia?

Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 39.

Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. Hematopoietic and lymphoid systems. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, eds. Robbins Basic Pathology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 12.