We all know about the importance of getting enough folate during pregnancy. Without proper folate intake during the early parts of pregnancy, you run the risk of your baby developing birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects. This is why it’s incredibly vital to make sure you’re getting at least 400mcg/day of folate throughout your pregnancy. Something to be aware of are the symptoms of folate deficiency, which you may develop without even knowing it.
According to Medline Plus, a folate deficiency means you have “a lower than normal amount” folate in your blood. This can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe you aren’t getting enough folate through your diet alone and you aren’t taking a proper folate supplement. Maybe you suffer from another health problem, such as Crohn’s or Celiac’s disease, which affects your body’s ability to properly absorb folate. Certain medications and drinking too much alcohol can also increase someone’s chance of developing a folate deficiency.
Some of the symptoms associated with a folate deficiency include: fatigue, gray hair, mouth sores or ulcers, poor growth or a swollen tongue. WebMD also lists the following as symptoms of folate deficiency: feeling lightheaded, being forgetful, feeling grouchy, having trouble concentrating and losing your appetite and possibly losing weight as a result.
Because of the role folate plays in the production of red blood cells, it is quite possible for someone with a folate deficiency to also become anemic. Anemia is a result of having a low red blood cell count and can show a lot of the same symptoms of a folate deficiency. According to Medline Plus, “in folate-deficiency anemia, the red blood cells are abnormally large.”
In order to avoid a folate deficiency, especially during pregnancy, it’s important to eat folate-rich foods such as beans, dark green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. In addition to your diet, taking a high quality folate supplement can help to keep your folate levels healthy. If you are suffering from the symptoms of folate deficiency, consult your doctor. A simple blood test can determine whether you are deficient in folate or if there is another problem to address.