Vitamin deficiency symptoms: Six signs you’re lacking the vital B9 nutrient

Essential Vitamins – Express Health

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Naturally present in asparagus, dark, leafy greens, and oranges, vitamin B9 is part of a healthy, varied diet. However, eating healthily can be challenging – especially on a consistent basis. An inadequate, regular supply of vitamin B9 will lead to folate deficiency anaemia. This is because the formation of red blood cells will be disrupted, causing a fewer number of them than needed.

Johns Hopkins Medicine explained: “If you don’t have enough red blood cells, you have anaemia.”

The six warning signs of folate deficiency anaemia are:

  • Pale skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Being grouchy (irritable)
  • Lack of energy or tiring easily
  • Diarrhoea
  • Smooth and tender tongue.

Is it dangerous?

Expectant mothers should be wary that a lack of vitamin B9 can cause neural defects in their growing baby.

“This is when the brain or spinal cord doesn’t develop normally,” the team at John Hopkins Medicine elaborated.

“It can cause death before or soon after birth. Or it may cause paralysis of the legs.”

Without properly functioning red blood cells, not enough oxygen can be supplied to all the tissues and organs in the body.

“Without enough oxygen, your body can’t work as well as it should,” the team at Johns Hopkins Medicine noted.

Megaloblastic anaemia might develop, which is where red blood cells are larger than normal.

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The deformed red blood cells are oval-shaped, instead of round, restricting the amount of oxygen it can transport.

Furthermore, those red blood cells tend to not live as long as healthy red blood cells.

The blood disorder – as pointed out by the University of Florida Health – can lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Pallor
  • Sore mouth
  • Sore tongue.

Who is at risk?

Aside from an inadequate diet, you’re more likely to develop folate deficiency anaemia if you:

  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Are pregnant
  • Can’t absorb folic acid
  • Are taking certain medicines, such as those used to control seizures.

The main cause of folate deficiency anaemia is related to dietary issues.

Foods rich in vitamin B9:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables (turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli)
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fresh fruits, fruit juices
  • Whole grains
  • Liver
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Fortified foods and supplements.

Treatment usually involves eating foods rich in vitamin B9.

Typically, people are advised by their doctor to take folic acid supplements for two to three months in addition to a healthier diet.

Dr Louise Newson stated: “The body’s reserves of folate are only sufficient for around four months.”

Additionally, almost half of the body’s folate is found in the liver.

It’s important to keep folate levels topped up, as low folate intake is associated with an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

“It may [also] be associated with some types of cancer,” said Dr Newson.

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