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Folic Acid Deficiency & Geographic Tongue

Folic Acid Deficiency & Geographic Tongue Folic Acid Deficiency & Geographic Tongue

Overview

Vitamin deficiencies can cause symptoms that range from minor to serious. Folic acid, also known as folate, is a type of B vitamin. While a healthy diet can provide adequate amounts of this nutrient, some individuals may experience a deficiency that causes various symptoms, including a condition called geographic tongue.

Geographic Tongue

Inadequate amounts of folic acid may contribute to the appearance of patches and swelling on your tongue that give it the appearance of a map, although this condition may have other causes. Irritation from spicy foods or alcohol may increase the risk of developing a geographic tongue. While this is a harmless condition, it can cause discomfort. You may experience burning and soreness, especially when you eat spicy foods.

Folic Acid

Folate is the natural form of this B vitamin, while folic acid is the synthetic form. This nutrient also goes by the name of vitamin B-9. Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, mushrooms, cereals and organ meats are all natural sources of folate. If a folic acid deficiency is the reason for your geographic tongue, you may also experience other symptoms including diarrhea, mouth ulcers and graying hair. Deficiencies in pregnant women can result in babies with neural tube defects.

Dose

The recommended daily allowance for folate consumption in adults is 400 mcg per day. Pregnant women need about 600 mcg, while breastfeeding women should get about 500 mcg per day. Folic acid supplements are generally safe although some people may experience nausea, diarrhea and a darkening of the urine.

Considerations

Although a folate deficiency may play a role in the appearance of patches on your tongue, the exact cause of this condition remains unknown. Don't try to treat an undiagnosed nutritional deficiency with large amounts of vitamin supplements. Excessive amounts of folic acid may cause confusion, psychotic behavior and can affect your central nervous system. Contact your doctor if you think you may have a nutritional deficiency. A simple blood test can confirm or negate a folate deficiency. Notify your doctor if the tongue irregularities last longer than 10 days or if you experience problems chewing, speaking or swallowing. Severe swelling that affects your breathing is an emergency situation that requires immediate medical attention.

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