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Check Your Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Deficiency Risk

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My name is Ark. I am an Indian freelance writer. I write health and food from a young age. I have some stories, poems that I will publish in

Check Your Folic Acid Deficiency Risk

The Folic Acid Guide

Folic acid acts as a coenzyme in a variety of chemical reactions important to metabolism, including DNA metabolism and metabolism of a few mission-critical amino acids. Vitamin b12, it is involved in methionine (an amino acid) creation from homocysteine. Too much homocysteine is implicated in an increased risk for heart disease and occurs when there is a deficiency of the b vitamins required to turn it into methionine.

Folates are essential for the production of white and red blood cells. In fact, with folate deficiency, there is a condition called macrocytic Anemia. This is the production of anomalously enlarged red blood cells.

Symptoms can include tiredness, weakness, and shortness of breath, as the oxygen-carrying ability of red blood cells is affected. Macrocytic Anemia can result from either folate or vitamin b12 deficiency - the symptoms are the same, but to be treated, the cause needs to be known.

Another sign of folate deficiency is high blood levels of homocysteine.

Folates are found in food in leafy greens and liver. It is synthesized in the gastrointestinal tract. Alcoholism can hinder the absorption of folate, and both pregnancy and cancer lead to extra requirements.

Whilst one is a health condition and the other not, they both involve greater cell activity - in the case of pregnancy, the formation of new life, and in the case of cancer, greater than normal cell division. Some medications also create a greater folate requirement.

When looking at recommended daily allowances, it's essential to understand the difference between folic acid and folates. Folic acid refers to the form of this vitamin found in supplements or fortified food, and folates refer to what is found in the body or in food.

The terminology differences arise from the fact that folic acid is more available to the body than folates. So 1 mcg folate is equivalent to 1 mcg Dietary Folate Equivalent (DFE); 1 mcg folic acid with meals or as fortified food equals 1.7 mcg DFE, and 1 mcg folic acid as a supplement on an empty stomach (which isn't recommended anyway!) equals 2 mcg DFE.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults is 400 mcg DFE per day.


Check Your Vitamin b12 Deficiency Risk

Vitamin b12 is unique in the b vitamins as it is the only one not found in vegetables. It is also the only b vitamin containing a metal - cobalt. Foods rich in b12 include liver, kidney, milk, vegetables, cheese, tempeh, whole grains, eggs and meat.

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Vegetarians who do not eat any animal products and no fermented food like tempeh could be deficient in vitamin b12. If in doubt, or you're feeling tired and sluggish, get your blood tested.

b12 is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, but those with poorly functioning digestive systems, or the elderly, may have trouble absorbing vitamin b12 from food.

This is because hydrochloric acid normally secreted from the gastric cells in the stomach in sufficient quantities is required to make the b12 from food available to be bound with intrinsic factors (also secreted in the stomach). This b12 - intrinsic factor complex is absorbed in the small intestine in the presence of calcium.

Those with pernicious Anemia will require injections of b12, as they cannot absorb it from the intestines. Those with poor stomach acid secretion, who still have intrinsic factors available, can still absorb supplements of vitamin b12 as this form of b12 is not bound to protein.

Deficiency symptoms/disorders

pernicious anaemia
weakness, personality changes, mood changes, abnormal sensations like tingling in the arms and legs.

b12 deficiency damages the myelin sheath that covers nerves in the skull, spine, and periphery.
impaired osteoblast activity (osteoblasts involved with bone)
RDA - those over 60 years should get most of their vitamin b12 RDA in supplemental or fortified food, due to the increased risk of problems absorbing vitamin b12 from food.
For adults 19 years and older the RDA is 2.4 mcg/day.


This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Ark


manjah zakaria from marrakech on October 15, 2021:

great article thanks

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