Folate, sometimes called Vitamin B9 or folic acid, helps make and repair our DNA and red blood cells. Without folate, you can develop a severe anemia that can be mistaken with an iron deficiency.

Reasons for Low Folate in IBD:
  • Severe inflammation in the small intestine
  • Surgery/ removal of parts of the small intestine
  • Medications such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine

All three factors listed above reduce the absorption of dietary folate. If folate levels are low, overtime you or your child may develop a folate deficiency.

Signs and Symptoms of a Folate Deficiency:
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath

Worth noting, the symptoms of a folate deficiency are similar to a vitamin B12 deficiency. There are, however, different tests that can determine which nutrient you are low in. If you are low in folate, you can increase folate rich foods into your diet and take a folic acid supplement as needed.

Best Sources of Folate:
  • Green leafy vegetables, asparagus
  • Peas and beans
  • Citrus fruits and melons
  • Eggs and poultry
  • Pork and shellfish
  • Fortified grains and cereals (has added folic acid)

For most people, eating folate rich foods provides enough folate to stay healthy (400 milligrams). However, if you have low folate from inflammation, surgery, or medication, you may need a folic acid supplement. For example, your doctor may prescribe a daily supplement of 1000mg or weekly dose of 5000mg. Additionally, if you are pregnant with IBD, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin (which contains folic acid). As a result, folate can prevent neural tube defects in your developing baby.

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