Folic acid deficiency anemia

Folic acid deficiency anemia results from lower-than-normal levels of folic acid in the body. It causes symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, a pale appearance, and lightheadedness.

Causes of folic acid deficiency anemia include:

  • Not getting enough folic acid in the diet.
  • An increased need for folic acid, as can happen during pregnancy or with certain diseases, such as sickle cell disease.
  • Difficulty absorbing folic acid.
  • Certain medications.
  • Artificial cleansing of the blood (hemodialysis), as is done to treat kidney disease.

Alcoholism is a common cause of folic acid deficiency anemia, as are certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia or leukemia. Folic acid deficiency anemia is treated by increasing a person's intake of folic acid (folate). With treatment, people usually recover from folic acid deficiency anemia within 2 weeks to 2 months.

Last Updated: December 23, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

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