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Folic Acid and Sickle Cell Anaemia

Red blood cells carry oxygen to every cell of the body. Sickle Cell Anaemia is a red blood disorder. As it can cause health problems in the body, sufferers may need to take supplements like folic acid.

Haemoglobin S is a protein in the blood that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Sickle cell anaemia is caused by a genetic mutation in this protein. As a result, red blood cells have a sickle shape instead of being round meaning they cannot carry as much oxygen as a normal red blood cell. Sufferers are susceptible to a chronic deficiency in red blood cells as they can all too easily become lodged in small blood vessels (due to their shape) making them more susceptible to being destroyed.

Now, Folic acid helps the body to make new cells and is extremely important when the body is manufacturing new cells quickly for the formation of DNA and RNA for example. Deficiencies in folic acid can hinder the creation of new red blood cells.

Those with sickle cell anaemia tend to have an increased need for folic acid, as the unusually shaped red blood cells are broken down much more rapidly compared to normal red blood cells. This makes the body manufacture new red blood cells more often and in order the body to do this, more folic acid is required which is why those with sickle cell anaemia may need to increase their folic acid consumption.

Consuming more Folic Acid daily is generally easy enough to do as many foods contain folic acid. You can obtain folic acid from a varied diet as it can be found in foods such as dried beans, peas, nuts, leafy green vegetables and fruits. Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products are also fortified with folic acid. Folic acid supplements are an obvious alternative if you are struggling to up your intake within your diet. Always consult your GP before taking supplements.