Vitamin B12 Testing: Why, How and What the Results Reveal
Do you feel as though you're not functioning at your full potential and want to find out why?
- Have you been feeling low on energy, depressed in mood and unable to think clearly or focus for long periods and can't quite place your finger on the cause?
- Do you eat well, exercise and try to get enough sleep, but your body seems to be functioning at sub-par levels?
- Are you experiencing unusual numbness or tingling in your limbs?
- Did you discover that you show many signs and symptoms listed for vitamin B12 deficiency?
It's time you find out if you are vitamin B12 deficient. Discover why and how to test your vitamin B12 levels and what the results will tell you.
Why should you test your vitamin B12 levels?
Testing can help you find out if your body is properly metabolizing vitamin B12 from the foods and supplements that you ingest. If you are suffering some of the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, then it is time to have your vitamin B12 levels tested. Chronic low levels can cause ongoing damage to nerves and brain. The most common demographic for low levels of vitamin B12 are found in vegans, vegetarians, adults over fifty and people with gastrointestinal surgeries or diseases.
You might be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency due to a malabsorption issue caused by your GI tract, pharmaceutical interactions, excessive alcohol use or heretical medical conditions that you are unaware. The National Institute of Health states that the results of vitamin B12 deficiency can be fatigue, anemia, slow thinking and other neurological issues including numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, depressed moods, balance issues and more. Vitamin B12 is a core ingredient for producing energy, protecting our entire nervous system and making DNA, you can't thrive without it.
Diagnosing your vitamin B12 deficiency is a starting point, and while you are finding the cause of the deficiency, you can quickly boost your levels to normal using vitamin B12 supplementation.
Some studies have indicated that up to 30% of the U.S. population cannot metabolize vitamin B12 properly, stating that it has to do with some sort of genetic glitch, but such a high number requires further investigation. Others claim up to 15% of the U.S. population has vitamin B12 levels that are lower than recommended. That signifies that approximately 49 million Americans could be suffering from some form of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Other ailments mimic the symptoms for vitamin B12 deficiency and often doctors want to rule those out before testing for chronic B12 deficiency. However, other avenues such as local and national testing laboratories can test your B12 levels. Always share the results with your healthcare professional for proper analysis. People with risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency should be screened with a complete blood count and serum vitamin B12 level.
What should you do to prepare and which tests should you undergo?
Vitamin B12 tests check the amount of vitamin B12 in your blood. The first stage in testing is a test that can be done through a simple blood draw at your doctor's office, or with an in-home urine test. Blood tests are more accurate.
Preparing for the Vitamin B12 serum blood Test
- Do not eat or drink anything 6-8 hours prior to testing.
- Disclose all medications, both over the counter or prescribed. Drugs that can affect test results are colchicine, neomycin, para-aminosalicylic acid and phenytoin (Dilantin).
- Always have a test and do not self-diagnose.
How do I understand my results?
Normal values are 200-900pg/mL (picograms per milliliter). *Normal values vary amongst different laboratories so always discuss the results with your doctor. American acceptable range is 200 – 350pg/mL.
Many European countries and Japan have a higher number for their lower limit at 500-550pg/mL for diagnosing low B12, and agree that the American normal level should be raised. These countries consider 500-1300 pg/mL in the normal range.
The reason for their lower limit of 500-550pg/mL is that these levels are associated with psychological and behavioral manifestations such as dementia and memory loss, not pernicious anemia. The lower American level is partly why many Americans are undiagnosed and suffering from the psychological issues associated with abnormal vitamin B12 levels.
People can feel the effects of improper vitamin B12 levels if they do not have pernicious anemia. Neurological problems can still be present if you test in the American normal range.
The most important thing is identifying whether you are low on vitamin B12. Because the serum vitamin B12 test can indicate everything is normal even though it isn’t, medical professionals recommend requesting an MMA (methylmalonic acid) test to gain better analysis. MMA and holoTC test are often tested at the same time.
MMA and holoTC test the active levels of vitamin B12 levels in your tissue. To offer better clinical information for diagnosis, both active vitamin B12 and MMA (methylmalonic acid) need testing. MMA testing can help discover accurate B12 levels, but remember that Folate has the potential to disrupt test results. Prior to testing, discuss a
ny Folate supplementation with your testing facility or doctor. No special preparation is necessary prior to MMA testing and a simple blood draw is all that is needed.
MMA often goes untested and therefore is a contributing cause of undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiencies. Many doctors do not know that neurological symptoms can be present in the absence of anemia. Macrocytosis that causes larger than normal red blood cells can also be present in the absence of anemia. The MMA test goes deeper providing a closer result of actual B12 levels thus diagnosing B12 deficiency more accurately. However, some other factors affect test results, which is why accurate vitamin B12 testing is problematic.
- Low vitamin B12 levels cause a variety of severe symptoms.
- Correct testing is important.
- Testing your B12 levels has a range of error, but it is an important diagnostic step.
- Vitamin B12 testing is easy and virtually painless with low risk, an easy blood test is all that is required
- Testing is a good first step to uncovering why you have the signs and symptoms related to Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
- Blood tests are more accurate than urine and an MMA-holoTC test produces increased accuracy in determining your vitamin B12 levels.
- American normal values differ from Japanese and some countries in the EU.
Diagnosis sometimes takes more than one test and time for process of elimination. If you test normal but are still suffering the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, supplementation can help you until your symptoms are properly diagnosed.
There is no established upper limit for vitamin B12 supplementation because the excess is eliminated through urine.
Always follow your healthcare professional's dosing schedule. When vitamin B12 deficiency is suspected, B-Complex is often prescribed because B vitamins work in unison.
Are you ready to supplement Vitamin B12?
The B12 Vitamin Store appreciates you choosing us as your trusted and reliable source of high quality Vitamin B12 Supplements!