Folate deficiency anemia can cause a range of symptoms. If you have low folate in the blood, you may have a folate deficiency.

The symptoms of folate deficiency include general symptoms of anemia:

  • Feeling tired all of the time
  • Lack of energy
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Loss of appetite


If your anemia is caused by folate deficiency you may also experience:

  • Reduced sense of taste
  • Diarrhoea
  • Numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression

Folate is a water soluble mineral, and your body is therefore unable to store it for long periods, meaning that you need to include folate in your daily diet to ensure your body has enough folate.

Let’s explain some of the symptoms of folate deficiency:

Feeling tired all of the time

If you become folate deficient your red blood cells (which carry oxygen around the body) might not develop properly and cannot carry oxygen as well. If you are living with low folate, you may feel tired all of the time because your red blood cells cannot be as effective in carrying oxygen around your body.

Reduced sense of taste

Folate deficiency can cause glossitis, or inflammation of your tongue. Your tongue might feel swollen and red and feel unusually smooth. This smoothness is caused by the loss of papillae on your tongue and can result in a reduced sense of taste.

Mouth ulcers and sores may be caused by vitamin deficiencies including low folate, while the exact causes of mouth ulcers go unexplained, it is believed that the driving force behind mouth ulcers include injury, nutritional deficits, physical burnout and an inflammatory response to oral infections.

If you are regularly experiencing mouth ulcers or canker sores, it may be a sign of nutritional deficiencies, including folate deficiency, consider taking a folate blood test to rule out some of the causes of iron deficiency.

Numbness and tingling in the feet and hands and muscle weakness

Folate is important to the nervous system at all ages and deficiency can lead to your hands and feet feeling numb or tingly.

Signs and symptoms of folate deficiency often take a long time to become obvious and, once identified it can take some time to correct. For this reason it is important to identify the deficiency early and talk to your doctor about treatment to correct it.

If you have been experiencing the above symptoms, consider taking a folate test to rule out folate deficiency.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically reviewed by Gwen Murphy, PhD, MPH