Folic Acid deficiency during pregnancy and prior has been tied to birth defects like cleft palate and Autism. For those who are not pregnant, it has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and geographic tongue.
Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9, vitamin Bc or folacin) and folate, which is the naturally occurring form, as well as pteroyl-L-glutamic acid, pteroyl-L-glutamate and pteroylmonoglutamic acid are forms of the water-soluble vitamin B9. Folic acid works closely with vitamins B6 and B12 to lower homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. Excess homocysteine is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
It is essential in the first three months of pregnancy to prevent birth defects such as spinal bifida, cleft palate, or cleft lip. Folic acid deficiency can cause “folic-acid-deficiency anemia” and red tongue. Symptoms of deficiency include diarrhea, and stomach and intestinal ulcers, anemia, anorexia, birth defects (spinal bifida, cleft palate, or cleft lip), slow growth, headaches, insomnia, memory loss, paranoia, vitiligo (skin discoloration), or weakness. Tongue-related symptoms include sore tongue, cracks at the corners of the mouth, Geographic Tongue, and intestinal problems.
Folic acid deficiency can result in the condition known as “geographic tongue” or a less dramatic presentation of deep grooves or fissures. Both conditions can often be reversed by supplementing for a few months with both folic acid and vitamin B12 (preferably as part of a B-complex supplement). Geographic tongue is said to occur more often in women, especially folic acid deficiency during high hormonal times such as during ovulation or pregnancy, and while taking birth control generally around the 17th day (British Dental Journal, August 1991).
There may be other benefits to meeting your folate needs besides preventing birth defects and some of the other symptoms listed above. Research suggests that folic acid may reduce the risk of colon, cervical and breast cancers and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Good natural sources of folate, the natural form of folic acid, include asparagus, carrots, yeast, liver, eggs, specifically the yolks, melon, apricots, pumpkin, avocado, beans, rye, whole wheat and green, leafy vegetables.
The US recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate is 400 micrograms for adults and 600 micrograms for women who are pregnant or can become pregnant. In the UK the RDA is 200 micrograms with 400 mcg only recommended for women planning to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. We think the higher amounts is what you should be aiming for if you are having tongue health issues. There is no danger of poisoning as it dissolves in water and excess amounts are passed through the urine. Note that the USDA adjusts for the difference in bioavailability of food folate (natural) compared with synthetic folic acid: 1 microgram of food folate is equal to about 0.6 micrograms of folic acid. Some studies included over 2000 micrograms of folate for pregnant women with no adverse side effects. A typical serving of Asparagus (5 spears) has about 100 micrograms of folate.
Folic Acid Supplements Early in Pregnancy May Reduce Risk of Autism by 40% – The timing of a mother’s intake of folate appears to be a critical factor. Her child’s risk of autism was reduced only when the supplements were taken between 4 weeks prior to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy.
You can read more about folic acid deficiency in Chapter 22 of Treating and Beating Geographic Tongue and Other Tongue Problems.
“Fresh Asparagus Tips” by Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net