Vitamins have undisputed importance in the human body. The levels of vitamins in the body have a major impact on how the body performs. Vitamins serve endless purposes and functions in the body which makes it necessary to keep an eye on their levels in the body. Their importance and requirement can never suffice for over intake also. Too much intake of vitamins can have their effects and consequences.
Vitamin B-12 is one such important vitamin in the human body. Vitamin B-12 helps in the formation of DNA and red blood cells, proper nerve functioning, brain health, etc. Another factor that makes Vitamin B-12 important is the fact that our body does not produce it. We have to maintain its levels by external means. The human body like most vitamins does not store Vitamin B-12 in the body so we have to take in small amounts of Vitamin B-12 daily in our diet.
This brings us to another question. How much of Vitamin B-12 do we need to intake?
Levels and amounts of per day intake of Vitamin B-12 depend on age, eating habits, medical condition, and personal health.
Infants (6 months) need 0.4mcg
Babies (12- months) need 0.5mcg
Children (1-3 years) need 0.9mcg
(4-8 years) need 1.2mcg
(9-13 years) need 1.8mcg
Teenagers (14-18 years) need 2.4mcg
Adults need 2.4mcg
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 2.6mcg and 2.8 mcg of Vitamin B-12 per day.
Now when it comes to maintaining the levels of vitamins there are only a few means by which we can monitor the levels of vitamins in the body. Deficiency symptoms are one way to conclude if you have a deficiency of any vitamin but a more concrete clinical test is required to follow up treatment.
Blood or urine tests can be used to test Vitamin B-12 levels. These tests will tell overall Vitamin B-12 level, methylmalonic acid, homocysteine, and holotranscobalamin.
Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 can lead up to
- Pale skin
- Constipation, loss of appetite, gas
- Vision issues
- Nerve damage, tingling, numbness, a problem in walking, muscle weakness
- Smooth tongue
- Mental issues like depression, memory loss, behavioral changes
- Temporary infertility in women
Higher levels of Vitamin B-12 are commonly seen in obese people and excessive meat-eaters. More than normal Vitamin B-12 levels are indicators of liver disease, leukemia, diabetes, etc.
When should one get a Vitamin B-12 test?
It is important to monitor your body and look for any signs or symptoms of Vitamin B-12 deficiency like although it takes a lot of time for symptoms to show up.
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- A racing heart
- Jaundiced skin with a yellow tinge to it because of the low level of red blood cells in the body due to deficiency of Vitamin B-12
- Weakness or fatigue due to lack of RBC’s. Low levels of red blood cells lead to improper circulation of oxygen and cause fatigue.
- Weak nerve endings and functioning. Myelin is an important substance produced in the body which surrounds and protects the nerves. Myelin needs Vitamin B-12 to form. This results in pin and needles sensation in limbs.
- Glossitis is inflammation of the tongue which makes the tongue red, painful, and swollen. Mouth ulcers are also a symptom of deficiency of Vitamin B-12.
- High temperature
- Those people who follow a vegan diet should get Vitamin-B12 because of lack of dairy can cause Vitamin-B12 deficiency.
- Those who have conditions of which interfere with Vitamin-B12 absorption.
- During pregnancies the cell production and DN synthesis activity in women’s body increases which needs a high amount of folate. So it is advised getting tested add supplements to the diet.
Your doctor might recommend a Vitamin B-12 test in case of high levels of serum folate levels.
Purpose of the test
The symptoms which present the need to test Vitamin-B12 levels take years to shown and often are misunderstood for something else. Generally, the need for Vitamin-B12 arises if there are chances of a condition called megaloblastic anemia in the patient’s body. In this condition, the body does not absorb the Vitamin-B12.
Another purpose is to diagnose higher concentrations of Vitamin-B12 in the body. Higher doses of Vitamin-B12 can have severe skin infections and the disease called rosacea in which the patient gets pus-filled bumps and redness on the skin.
What is an active Vitamin-B12 test?
Active Vitamin-B12 test is done to test the level of B-12 which is available for the body to use.
Types of Vitamin B-12 test and the procedure
Blood test –For a blood test you will be instructed to not eat or drink for 8 hours before the test. You have to make sure you are well hydrated also. A small area of your arm or near elbow will be cleaned by alcohol and an elastic band might be tied around your upper arm. Enough amount of blood is collected through a needle and a bandage is applied on your needle wound.
The sample is taken to the lab to test Vitamin B-12 levels, holoTC, etc.
You will need to send samples to the lab in the jar provided by them. Or another way is to dip the strips provided directly in the urine sample and read the result right away.
Other cases in Vitamin-B12 can be prescribed.
- Weak bones
- Male infertility
- Inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Heart diseases
- Sleep and mental disorder
- Swollen tendons
- Alzheimer’s diseases
Both high and low levels of Vitamin B-12 can be indicators of other health issues. This is best discussed with a doctor.
Results according to pg/mL of Vitamin B-12
Below 150 pg /mL – low
200 to 600 pg/mL – normal
800 pg/mL – high
In the case of urine test MMA under 3.8 mcg/mC is considered normal.