What Medical Conditions Cause High Folate Levels?
You have probably heard of Folate (Vitamin B9) before, especially if you or anyone around was pregnant or trying to get pregnant. It’s one of those crucial nutrients that play a vital role in various bodily functions, including DNA synthesis, cell division, and the formation of red blood cells.
While folate deficiency can lead to various health issues, it is equally important to be aware of conditions that can result in high folate levels. Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing at all.
In this article, we will explore what medical conditions cause high folate levels.
One of the most common reasons for elevated folate levels is excessive folate intake through dietary supplements. Over-the-counter vitamins and prescription medications often contain high doses of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate.
While supplementation can be beneficial in cases of folate deficiency, if you are planning to conceive, excessive use can result in high folate levels.
If you don’t take folate supplements during pregnancy, your baby has a higher risk of neural tube defects (the early brain and the spine comprise the neural tube). But you want to be careful of how much folate you supplement. Make sure to have a conversation with your family doctor or medical professional before taking folate supplements.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 and Folate are closely interconnected in the body. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to an imbalance in the B-vitamin group, causing folate levels to rise.
This can be a concern because it may mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to serious health problems over time.
Remember that if you are vegan or vegetarian and have been avoiding meat and dairy products for a while, you might be deficient in B12. It’s important to get your blood tested and ensure that you are not. If you are, then start taking Vitamin B12 supplements right away.
Certain types of anemia, such as megaloblastic anemia, are characterized by abnormally large and underdeveloped red blood cells.
These conditions can result from a folate deficiency or, in some cases, a vitamin B12 deficiency. In response to anemia, healthcare providers may prescribe folate supplements, which can lead to elevated folate levels.
Whenever you are taking any kind of folate supplements, as mentioned already, it’s important to do so under medical supervision. Also, get tested every few months to ensure your folate levels don’t get elevated.
Hemolytic anemia is when the body destroys red blood cells more rapidly than it can produce them. Certain inherited forms of hemolytic anemia, such as hereditary spherocytosis, can cause an increase in folate levels due to the increased demand for red blood cell production.
The liver plays a crucial role in the metabolism and storage of folate. It’s one of the most important detox organs in the body, constantly working to process all the supplements we take.
Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, can disrupt the normal functioning of the liver and may lead to high folate levels in the bloodstream. Additionally, liver disease can affect the utilization of folate in the body.
If you have fatty liver disease (overweight or obese) or alcoholic liver disease (years of drinking too much), then it’s a good idea to get tested for excess folate in your body.
Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can cause elevated folate levels. This is due to increased cellular turnover and inflammation. The body’s demand for folate may increase in response to these conditions, resulting in higher serum folate levels.
Most of us are dealing with chronic inflammation, also called slow or long-term inflammation, which persists over a long time. It’s due to various reasons like our lifestyle, stress, and the pollutants in our environment.
Everyone should take care to get their blood tested regularly (at least once a year) to ensure their blood folate levels aren’t too high or too low.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can lead to high folate levels. Chronic alcohol consumption can interfere with folate absorption and metabolism in the small intestine and liver.
Additionally, alcoholism often leads to poor dietary choices, which can result in nutrient imbalances. Unfortunately, alcoholics are even less likely to take multivitamins than those who don’t abuse alcohol every day. So they might be dealing with several deficiencies or irregularities of vitamins and minerals without being aware of it.
Certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, can cause elevated folate levels. This occurs because rapidly dividing cancer cells require more folate for DNA synthesis and growth.
In some cases, the body may respond to the cancer by releasing higher levels of folate into the bloodstream.
Hopefully, your medical advisor will be keeping an eye on your blood work as you try to fight the cancer in your body. If not, bring it up with them right away.
Certain medications, such as methotrexate (used in cancer treatment), phenytoin (an anticonvulsant), and sulfasalazine (used in inflammatory bowel disease treatment), can interfere with folate metabolism. This can lead to high folate levels.
Many medications, even though useful in one way, come with a host of side effects. Again, the onus is on you to make sure you keep an eye on your body and health so you don’t end up in a situation like this.
Polycythemia Vera is a rare bone marrow disorder that results in an overproduction of red blood cells. In response to this condition, the body may increase folate levels to support the elevated demand for red blood cell production.
What Medical Conditions Cause High Folate Levels?
It’s a wonder that all of us live for as long as we do, considering there are so many things that can potentially go wrong in the body. That’s why it’s so important to learn and know what medical conditions cause high folate levels and keep an eye on your blood work.
If you are a traveling physician or a medical practitioner working in a senior living facility, Precision Labs offers remote or on-site blood testing.
Learn more about our blood testing services by contacting our team.