Vitamin B9 deficiency

Dr. Anurag Shahi (AIIMS)MBBS,MD

January 15, 2019

March 06, 2020

Vitamin B9 deficiency
Vitamin B9 deficiency

What is vitamin B9 deficiency?

Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid or folate. It is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the body cannot store it and therefore requires a daily supply from the diet. Vitamin B9 is vital for producing red blood cells (RBCs) which contain haemoglobin and also makes and repairs DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Deficiency of vitamin B9 leads to megaloblastic anaemia and is particularly risky if it occurs during pregnancy.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency are:

What are its main causes?

Poor dietary intake leads to folate deficiency. Malabsorption diseases like coeliac disease prevent the absorption of folate from the diet into the blood leading to folate deficiency. Congestive heart failure, dialysis for kidney failure over long periods of time and liver damage can also lead to folate deficiency. Medications like methotrexate, sulfasalazine and medications taken to control seizures also lead to vitamin B9 deficiency.

How is it diagnosed and treated?        

The physician will take a proper history of symptoms and may advise a few laboratory investigations to diagnose the condition. Complete blood count is advised to look for anaemia in patients who are undernourished. Vitamin B9 deficiency causes megaloblastic anaemia, in which the RBCs are larger than normal and are immature. Low vitamin B9 levels in the blood indicate vitamin B9 deficiency. The physician may also obtain a history of medicine intake to rule out malabsorption of vitamin B9 due to other medicines.

Treatment usually includes intake of vitamin B9 supplements. Over-the-counter vitamin B9 tablets are available. Vitamin B9 rich foods, such as eggs, shellfish, beetroot, lentils, peas and green leafy vegetables, are good for overall health.


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Doctors for Vitamin B9 deficiency

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