Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
What is the Vitamin B12 test?
The vitamin B12 test measures the amount of vitamin B12 in the blood. Our body needs this vitamin to make blood cells and maintain the health of the nervous system. It is also important for the proper functioning of the brain. Since vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with nerve damage and certain cases of anaemia, it is important to keep an eye on its levels especially when you are at risk.
Who should get tested?
Animal products like meat, fish, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs contain vitamin B12. So, those people who consume these products regularly don’t have to worry much. But if you are someone who does not consume these products regularly or follow a strict vegetarian diet or are vegan, then you may be at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and its related complications. Besides, the body’s inability to absorb vitamins is another risk factor. Considering your risk and the presence of the below-mentioned symptoms prompts a doctor to order a vitamin B12 test.
- Tingling and numbness in hands, feet and legs
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid heart rate
- Sore tongue and mouth
Why is the Vitamin B12 test needed?
Uses of vitamin B12 test includes:
- Finding vitamin B12 deficiency
- Diagnosing the cause of certain types of anaemia
- Finding the cause of decreased mental abilities
- Finding the cause of symptoms associated with nervous system disorder
For an accurate diagnosis, doctors often order folic acid test along with vitamin B12 test.
What does Vitamin B12 test results mean?
The normal values of vitamin B12 test are considered to be 200-600 pg/mL. But remember that these values are just for your reference. Each lab can have slightly different ranges and thus the results may also vary.
Nonetheless, having higher than normal values could mean:
- Presence of liver disease
- Certain types of leukaemia
- Kidney failure
And having lower than normal values of vitamin B12 in blood could mean:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia
- Parasitic infection
- Consuming a diet low in vitamin B12
- Folic acid deficiency anaemia
- High levels of protein in the blood
How is the test done?
Vitamin B12 test is a simple blood test. A small sample of your blood is needed to conduct the test and understand its values in your body. The process of sample collection is simple, quick and relatively painless. At most, you will feel the prick of the needle. Considering that a lot of factors like medications and pre-existing medical conditions can influence your results, it is recommended that you inform your doctor beforehand about any such conditions. Besides, you will have to fast for several hours before the sample collection. Your doctor will guide you through that.
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