Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms

Folic acid, the synthetic form of the B group vitamin that is commonly known as folacin, folate or simply vitamin B9 is essential to human health. This is especially true during pregnancy where the vitamin is known to play a role in the prevention of pregnancy defects.

Other major folic acid deficiency symptoms include diarrhea, anemia, and glossitis (an inflammation of the tongue).

Folate Composition

Folate is in fact a very chemically complicated vitamins as it composed of a three-part structure, and this in itself can create demands upon the body’s metabolism. PABA, glutamic acid, and pteridine are the three primary components of folic acid, wherein the two components –the glutamic acid and pteridine; folate’s technical name which is pteroylmonoglutamate.

Folacin helps in producing and maintaining new cells and is vitally important during growth and cell division. It is needed in the making of DNA and RNA, which are the cell’s primary building blocks. Humans need folic acid in order to produce red blood cells and to prevent the serious disease, known as anemia.

Foods high in folic acid

Turnip greens, spinach and other green leafy vegetables are foods rich in folate which is why most nutritionists recommend these foods for those who are anemic or pregnant. Dried peas and beans, as well as citrus fruits and juices are also good natural sources of folate. Foods high in folic acid are those that have been fortified with the synthetic form of the vitamin such as grains, pasta, breads and cereals.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States published regulations in 1996 that required addition of vitamin B9 to cereals, breads, pastas, corn meals, rice and to other grain products. Due to the fact that grains and cereals are one of the widely consumed products in the U.S., these have now become a significant contributor of folate to the diet of Americans. Many other countries have applied similar regulations for the benefit of having healthier citizens.

The U.S. FDA recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for folate are as follows:

Age (µg/day)
1 to 3 years old 150
4 to 8 years old 200
9 to 13 years old 300
14 and above 400
Pregnancy 600
Lactation 500

Folic Acid Deficiency Symptoms

Folic acid deficiency is highly common in women, and pregnant women with this vitamin depletion are at greater risk of giving birth to newborns with neural tube defects, low birth weight and who are born premature. The overall growth rate of a child or infant can be decreased due to this deficiency.

Adults can have anemia as a result of having long term deficiency. Loss of appetite, weight loss and diarrhea are other subtle folate / folic acid deficiency symptoms, as well as headaches, irritability, glossitis, heart palpitations, sore tongue, behavioral disorders, and forgetfulness.


Office of dietary supplements; New York UniversityUniversity of Maryland Medical Center.