A deficiency of folate can occur when an increased need for folate is not matched by an increased intake, when dietary folate intake does not meet recommended needs, and when folate loss increases. Medications that interfere with the metabolism of folate may also increase the need for this vitamin and risk of deficiency [1,15-19].
Medical conditions that increase the need for folate or result in increased loss of folate include:
- pregnancy and lactation (breastfeeding)
- alcohol abuse
- kidney dialysis
- liver disease
- certain anemias
Medications that interfere with folate utilization include:
- anticonvulsant medications (such as dilantin, phenytoin and primidone)
- metformin (sometimes prescribed to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes)
- sulfasalazine (used to control inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
- triamterene (a diuretic)
- methotrexate (used for cancer and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis)
- barbiturates (used as sedatives)
What are some common signs and symptoms of folate deficiency?
Many of these subtle symptoms are general and can also result from a variety of medical conditions other than folate deficiency. It is important to have a physician evaluate these symptoms so that appropriate medical care can be given.