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Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiencies

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Treatment for B12 and folate deficiencies frequently involves supplementation, which may be long-term or lifetime, depending on the underlying cause. People who lack intrinsic factor or have conditions causing general malabsorption require injections of B12. Folate is given as an oral supplement.

It is generally recommended that all women contemplating having a child or who may become pregnant take folic acid supplements to ensure that they have a sufficient store for normal fetal development and to prevent neural tube defects.

Individuals deficient in both B12 and folate will require replenishment of both. If someone with a B12 deficiency only takes folic acid supplements, the macrocytic anemia may be resolved but the underlying neuropathy caused by the B12 deficiency will persist. Appropriate treatment should resolve symptoms but may not reverse all of the nerve damage.

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