How to tell when your serum folate levels are low
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Ever had days when you just can’t shake off that extreme tiredness, or moments when your mood seems to plunge for no apparent reason?
Don’t dismiss it as just a bad day – your body might be trying to tell you something.
It might not be your busy schedule or a lack of sleep causing these issues. Surprisingly, it could be your serum folate levels silently signaling for help.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss on folate deficiency, and learn about the small signs your body might be showing when it lacks folate.
So, if you’re worried about your low folate levels and you want to know the steps to take, then keep reading because we’ve got all the answers for you!.
Don’t let low folate levels hold you back – let’s get started on the path to better health and vitality!.
Things to keep in mind about folate:
Red Cell Formation. Folate helps in making red blood cells and prevents anemia.
Neural Tube Development. During pregnancy, folate is vital for the development of the baby's neural tube, reducing the risk of birth defects.
Methylation Reactions. Folate also helps in methylation reactions, influencing gene expression and numerous biochemical processes.
What is Serum Folate?
Serum folate levels refers to the amount of folate present in our bloodstream.
Knowing this level serves as an indicator of our overall folate status.
Usually, serum folate levels should fall within a certain range to support our health.
The normal range for serum folate levels is 2.5 to 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
A level below 2.5 ng/mL is low and may indicate folate deficiency.
A high serum folate level is not a cause for concern. However, it can sometimes be a sign of a problem with the liver or kidneys.
Factors that affects serum folate levels include; diet, absorption of folate, liver function, and the use of certain medications.
Causes of Low Serum Folate Levels
Here are some of the causes of low serum folate levels:
- Not eating enough folate-rich foods
- Methotrexate and phenytoin
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Celiac disease
If you have a low serum folate levels, take folic acid supplement.
It is important to note that serum folate levels can fluctuate, so get a test repeated if your results are low.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Serum Folate
The symptoms depends on how low the folate levels are. Some common symptoms include:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore red tongue
- Memory problems
In severe cases, low serum folate levels can lead to folate deficiency anemia.
Diagnosing Low Serum Folate Levels
You can check your folate levels by doing a test known as serum folate test. This test measures the amount of folate in your blood.
When you have low levels of folate in your blood, this means you have folate deficiency.
Additional tests can be done to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. These tests include:
- Vitamin B12 level test
- Complete blood count
- Tissue transglutaminase IgA (tTG-IgA)
If you are diagnosed with a folate deficiency, there are some treatment options for you.
How to Treat Low Serum Folate Levels
Treatment for low serum folate levels usually involves taking folate supplements.
The dosage of folate supplement will depend on the severity of your deficiency. Here are some of the most common folate supplements:
- Folic acid: A form of folate supplement that is well-absorbed and affordable. But, some people may not be able to absorb folic acid as well as others.
- 5-MTHF: This is a bioavailable form of folate than folic acid. It is often recommended for people who have difficulty absorbing folic acid.
- L-methylfolate: Another form of 5-MTHF. It is similar to 5-MTHF, but it is a liquid form that may be easier for some people to take.
The best folate supplement for you will depend on your personal needs and circumstances. Some factors to consider include:
- Your age, sex, and health status
- Your diet and lifestyle
- Any medications you are taking
- Whether you are planning to become pregnant
Some medications interferes with folate, so make sure the supplement you choose is safe for you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women who are planning to become pregnant must take 400 mcg of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy.
Here’s a list of the best folate supplement we’ve picked for you:
- Life With Folate 5-MTHF, Vitamin D3 & B12 – Methylation Cycle (90 Capsules)
- Women’s 45+ Multivitamin With Methylated Folate, L-Glutathione, Broccoli & CoQ-10 (120 Vegetarian Capsules)
- Brain Performance Plus With Phosphatidylserine, Vitamin B6, B12 & Folic Acid (30 Capsules)
- Women’s 45+ Multivitamin With Methylated Folate, L-Glutathione, Broccoli & CoQ-10 (60 Vegetarian Capsules)
- CoEnzymated Men’s 45+ Daily Multivitamin With Folate & Saw Palmetto (60 Vegetable Capsules)
- Women’s Multivitamin With Methylated Folate, B6 & Calcium (60 Vegetarian Capsules)
- CoEnzymated Men’s Daily Multivitamin With Folate, Zinc & Lycopene (60 Vegetable Capsules)
When choosing a supplement, read the label carefully to make sure it contains the right amount of folate for your needs.
Dietary Strategies to Increase Folate Intake
Boosting folate intake is often the first step in addressing deficiency.
You can do that by incorporating folate-rich foods into your diet.
Here are some specific examples of foods that are good sources of folate:
- 1 cup of cooked spinach: 131 micrograms (mcg) of folate
- 1 cup of cooked broccoli: 90 mcg of folate
- 1 cup of cooked asparagus: 89 mcg of folate
- 1 cup of cooked black beans: 155 mcg of folate
- 1 slice of whole wheat bread: 100 mcg of folate
- 1 cup of orange juice: 50 mcg of folate
The amount of folate in food can change depending on the type of food, how it’s cooked, and how much you eat.
In a nutshell, folate is important for your health, helping with things like producing red cells and preventing birth defects during pregnancy.
If you’re feeling tired, moody, or experiencing strange symptoms, low folate might be the culprit.
To stay on top of this, you should know your folate levels, and they should fall within a certain range.
Low levels can be due to reasons like diet, medications and certain medical conditions.
The good news is that there are tests to diagnose it, and treatment involves taking folate supplements.
You can also boost your folate levels by eating folate-rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, and black beans.
So, if you’re not feeling up to par, pay attention to folate, because it could make a big difference in your health and how you feel every day.