Folate deficiency, for example, will lead to megaloblastic anaemia if levels are not topped up. This is where red blood cells become misshapen, becoming larger than normal, and taking on an oval shape. Experts at John Hopkins Medicine explained that abnormal red blood cells “don’t live as long as normal red blood cells”. As tissues and organs are starved of the necessary oxygen they need, symptoms begin to emerge.
One telling sign of folate deficiency anaemia is when the tongue becomes “smooth and tender”.
The muscular organ, said Dr Matthew Hoffman, usually has tiny bumps called papillae that give the tongue a rough texture.
Dr Hoffman confirmed that a “bald” tongue, when the tongue loses its bumpy texture and becomes smooth, is due to anaemia or a B vitamin deficiency.
This can be corrected, thankfully, by taking a B vitamin supplements, the doctor added.
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Other indications of a folate deficiency can range from a pale complexion to diarrhoea.
Experts at John Hopkins listed the additional symptoms of a folate deficiency:
- Decreased appetite
- Being grouchy (irritable)
- Lack of energy or tiring easily.
There are multiple reasons as to why someone develops a folate deficiency, aside from not eating a nutritious diet.
These include: drinking a lot of alcohol, pregnancy, taking anti-seizure medication, and not being able to absorb folic acid.
The NHS pointed out that malabsorption of folic acid – the nutrient needed to prevent a folate deficiency – could be due to coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is where the body’s immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten.
As a consequence, the gut becomes damaged, meaning it is unable to take in nutrients.
If a folate deficiency’s underlying root cause is due to coeliac disease, other symptoms will be present.
Ranging from mild to severe, and often intermittent, toiletry symptoms can be eye-opening.
One of the most common symptoms of coeliac disease is diarrhoea. The condition can also lead to “foul smelling, greasy and frothy” stools.
The faeces may also be difficult to flush down the toilet due to its high fat content.
Other gut-related issues may include: abdominal pain, bloating, passing wind, indigestion, constipation, and vomiting.
Coeliac disease can also lead to unexpected weight loss, an itchy rash, difficulty with falling pregnant, and tinging and numbness in the hands and feet.
“If coeliac disease is not treated, not being able to digest food in the normal way could cause you to become malnourished,” the NHS warned.
Should you identify with any of the above symptoms, booking an appointment with your doctor can begin the diagnosis process.
For a folate deficiency, supplements are usually recommended, but this will need to be monitored by your doctor and blood tests.