Vitamin B9 (Folate)

Folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) plays an important role in the functioning and development of your blood cells. In pregnancy, folate content is important for the development of the fetus, particularly in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folate deficiency is rare in Canada with a prevalence of less than 1% of the Canadian population.

What foods contain folate?

  • Vegetables: Beets, Avocados, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Dark leafy greens

  • Beans

  • Citrus fruits, Papaya, Bananas

  • Whole grains

  • Seafood

  • Eggs

  • Legumes

  • Nuts and seeds

What are the symptoms of folate deficiency?

Symptoms of folate deficiency are similar to those of B12 deficiency. Though rare, neuropsychiatric manifestations include:

  • Numbness

  • Insomnia

  • Cognitive slowing

  • Restless leg syndrome

  • Weakness

  • Balance and co-ordination trouble

  • Difficulties with memory

  • Depression and irritability

What causes folate deficiency?

  • Alcoholism

  • Medications including valproic acid, carbamazepine, cholestyramine, sulfasalazine, methotrexate

How do I test for folate deficiency?

Canadian labs offer serum and RBC folate (the amount of folate contained within red blood cells). RBC folate is a better test of folate status than serum folate, as it does not fluctuate with recent folate consumption associated with a meal or supplement.

Should I order folate testing?

Given the rarity of folate deficiency, folate testing is not routinely recommended as part of nutritional status as most Canadians have sufficient stores. As such, the province of Ontario does not cover this test as an insured test.







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