Fibre: Why it is a key part of a healthy diet
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Moreover, deformed red blood cells will not survive for as long as healthy red blood cells, leading to megaloblastic anaemia for the person who is lacking a constant supply of vitamin B9. Medically referred to as folate-deficiency anaemia, the lack of healthy red blood cells results in the tissues and organs starving of oxygen. Consequently, outward indications of a struggling internal system begin to surface.
For example, a person suffering from megaloblastic anaemia may begin to feel tired and lack energy from day to day.
Even after a little bit of exercise, breathlessness might occur as the tissues around the body are crying out for oxygen.
Megaloblastic anaemia may also lead to heart palpitations, healthcare provider Bupa stated.
Heart palpitations are “the sensation of feeling your heart thumping in your chest”.
The condition could also lead to numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
A lack of vitamin B9 may also lead to feelings of depression and other emotional changes.
“If you have [these symptoms], it’s a good idea to see your GP,” Bupa noted.
Folate deficiency anaemia can turn into a serious issue, increasing the risk of heart problems, infertility, and certain cancers.
What causes a vitamin B9 deficiency?
A diet lacking folate can lead to folate-deficiency anaemia, especially as folate is not stored in the body indefinitely.
“You need to eat foods that contain folate every day to make sure your body has enough,” Bupa pointed out.
Folate-rich foods include:
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits
- Brown rice
- Unsalted peanuts
“The best way to prevent folate-deficiency anaemia is to eat a balanced diet containing plenty of folate,” Bupa added.
“A healthy diet that includes vegetables, legumes, fruit and grains… aim for two fruit serves and five serves of veggies every day.”
Interestingly, folate is “damaged by heat”, so if you want to benefit from folate-rich foods, you need to eat them raw or lightly cooked.
“Also try microwaving vegetables in just a small amount of water or steam them to retain more of this delicate vitamin,” Bupa noted.
A poor diet is not the only cause of a vitamin B9 deficiency, as the condition might be caused by blood conditions, drinking too much alcohol, and digestive disorders.
Digestive disorders that may contribute to folate deficiency include coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Even medications, such as those to treat epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis, could lead to the development of megaloblastic anaemia.
Furthermore, pregnancy could also lead to a deficiency as more folate is needed to cater for the needs of a growing foetus.
If you are presenting with signs of a folate deficiency, a blood test can confirm the diagnosis.
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