Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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In terms of a deficiency, vitamin B9, otherwise known as folate, “may be more frequent than expected”, researchers at the University of Bourgogne, France, pointed out. The research paper – published in the National Library of Medicine – noted that a folate deficiency is “frequently observed” in:
- Elderly people
- Oral contraceptive users.
“It is also associated with the mutation leading to the thermolabile variant of N5 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase,” the researchers noted.
This is “observed in about 10 percent of the population”, which is “an independent risk factor for atherothrombosis”.
Atherothrombosis is atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries) superimposed by thrombosis (blood clots).
The researchers added: “Epidemiological and recent experimental studies have demonstrated that folate deficiency might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing circulating homocysteine levels.”
The warning signs of a folate deficiency
A folate deficiency will lead to anaemia, which can lead to generalised symptoms, such as mouth ulcers.
Other indications of anaemia, according to the NHS, might include a sore and red tongue, pins and needles, and irritability.
Without an adequate supply of vitamin B9 (folate), red blood cells become deformed.
Consequently, organs, tissues, and cells around the body are depleted in oxygen and nutrients levels.
As such, when anaemia arises, a pale, yellow tinge on the skin can develop.
Moreover, vision might become disturbed and a decline in memory, understanding and judgement might occur.
Symptoms specific to anaemia caused by a folate deficiency include:
- A reduced sense of taste
- Numbness and tingling in the feet and hands
- Muscle weakness
The NHS recommends booking an appointment with your doctor if you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself.
The NHS stated: “Although many of the symptoms improve with treatment, some problems caused by the condition can be irreversible if left untreated.
“The longer the condition goes untreated, the higher the chance of permanent damage.”
What causes a folate deficiency?
As folate dissolves in water, the body is unable to store the nutrient for a long time.
The body’s store of folate usually lasts for around four months, meaning you need sufficient folate in your daily diet to not become deficient in vitamin B9.
Good sources of folate include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas and brown rice.
The NHS warned: “If you don’t regularly eat these types of foods, you may develop a folate deficiency.”
Sometimes a folate deficiency is due to an underlying health condition, such as coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition whereby the immune system reacts when gluten is ingested, triggering inflammation.
Gluten can be found in: most types of bread; most beers and lagers; certain fruit squashes; and pasta, cakes, and biscuits.
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