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Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia: Causes


Topic Overview

Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. It helps produce red blood cells. Low levels of folic acid (also called folate) in the body decrease production of red blood cells and cause folic acid deficiency anemia.

Causes of folic acid deficiency anemia include:

  • Not eating enough foods that contain folic acid.
    • Unhealthy diets may not have much folic acid.
    • Vegan diets may not include enough folic acid.
    • People who have the eating disorder anorexia nervosa severely limit how much they eat, including those foods that contain folic acid.
  • Having an increased need for folic acid. This might happen with:
  • Not absorbing or retaining folic acid. This can be caused by:
    • Drinking too much alcohol.
    • Having hemodialysis.
    • Having an intestinal problem such as celiac disease.
  • Taking certain medicines, including medicine used to treat cancer.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJoseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
Last RevisedDecember 18, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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