What Is Folic Acid Or Folate Deficiency Anemia?
Q: How does folate deficiency cause anemia?
Folate is required for the formation of both red and white blood cells in the bone marrow and for their maturation.
Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. When there are not enough red blood cells or when they cannot properly carry oxygen, the condition is called anemia. In folic acid deficiency anemia, the red blood cells are abnormally large. Such cells are called macrocytes (macro size cells). They are also called megaloblasts (mega size cells) as seen in the bone marrow where they are produced. This is why this macrocytic anemia is also called megaloblastic anemia.2
Tests that may be done to determine folate adequacy are complete blood count (CBC), red blood cell folate level, methylmalonic acid level, and homocysteine level. Folic acid deficiency anemia shows a decrease in red blood cell folate and/or serum folate levels and normal plasma methylmalonic acid level with elevated homocysteine blood level. These levels distinguish folic acid deficiency anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.3
What Is Folate Deficiency Anemia In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?
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Kathleen Mahan and Sylvia Escott-Stump, ed. Krause’s Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 10th Edition. Philadelphia, PA. USA: W.B. Saunders Company, 2000. ↩
Mark Beers and Robert Berkow. The Merck Manual, 17th Edition. Whitehouse Station, N.J. USA: Merck Research Laboratories, 1999. ↩