Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 Deficiency






Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Various tests can be carried out in the case of vitamin B12. These laboratory tests are used to determine the presence of Vitamin B12 deficiency, its severity and in assessing treatment effectiveness. Vitamin B12 is essential for various processes in the body. Such include synthesis of neurotransmitters and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (Lee, 2009). Moreover, vitamin B12  helps in the metabolism of homocysteine. Vitamin B12 deficiency is hence associated with various symptoms in various organs and body systems. This association of vitamin B12 with various symptoms necessitates determining various aspects relating to vitamin B12 mentioned above.

One of the laboratory tests is the Vitamin B12 Assay that gives an indication of the amount of serum vitamin B12 level. This test is used for preliminary confirmation of the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency. Stabler(2013) explains that serum level of vitamin B12 that is <100 pg per milliliter indicates vitamin B12 deficiency. However, this test does not have a high sensitivity level due to the high rate of false negatives and false positives.

Klimis-Zacas and Wolinsky (2003) accounts for the use of urinary or serum methylmalonic acid (MMA). This test is specific to vitamin B12 deficiency. Elevated urinary or serum MMA levels indicate the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency. Another similar test to MMA test is the homocysteine test in which individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency have a high level of total homocysteine (Stabler, 2013). FIGLU test may also be used. This test is used to assess levels of serum homocysteine and formiminoglutamic acid in urinary excretion. A replacement absorption test is under development. If the test is viable, it will allow measuring of saturation of holotranscobalamin by vitamin B12. This replacement absorption test aims to replace the phased out scilling test.




Klimis-Zacas, D., & Wolinsky, I. (Eds.). (2003). Nutritional concerns of women. CRC Press.

Lee, M. (Ed.). (2009). Basic skills in interpreting laboratory data. ASHP.

Stabler, S. P. (2013). Vitamin B12 deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine368(2), 149-160.

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