Folate, or vitamin B-9 is a nutrient found in green leafy vegetables and fruits. Low folate or folate deficiency refers to a low levels of folate in the body.
Let’s discuss some of the leading causes of low folate.
Some of the leading causes of low folate include:
A diet that is lacking in folate or folic acid is one of the leading causes of folate deficiency. Those who are following a restrictive diet, or a diet that cuts out entire food groups may be at a higher risk of folate deficiency. A diet lacking in fruits and leafy green vegetables is one of the leading causes of folate deficiency. (Read: 8 Foods To Boost Folate if you are concerned that your folate deficiency is as a result of poor or inadequate nutrition.)
During pregnancy and while breast-feedingthe body requires more folate or folic acid . A developing fetus needs folic acid to grow, especially the development of the brain and spinal cord. Folate also plays a vital role in the development of DNA during pregnancy, a folate rich diet is very important. It is recommended that if you are trying to get pregnant or if you are pregnant, you need to ensure that you are getting enough folate in your diet each and every day. Taking prenatal vitamins could help ensure you do not fall short of key nutrients, including folate.
Alcohol decreases absorption of folate by your body, so drinking alcohol to excess may lead to folate deficiency.
Medications including methotrexate, phenytoin, sulfasalazine and trimethoprim may lead to folate deficiency due to its impact on intestinal folate absorption, utilization and conversion into an active form of folate.
Certain health conditions
Certain health conditions may cause folate deficiency such as:
Most nutrients are absorbed by your small intestine, so certain intestinal diseases (colitis, Crohn’s disease, or coeliac disease) or surgery, could mean your intestines are unable to properly absorb folate from your food and this can result in a folate deficiency.
Surgeries such as gastrectomy, may lead to poor folate absorption. This is a more uncommon way that one may experience folate deficiency but it is still a possible cause of folate deficiency.
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Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically reviewed by Gwen Murphy, PhD, MPH