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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

Also known as Cyanocobalamine; Serum B12 Level.

Why test for Vitamin B12 level at Symbion VIP Diagnostics, Ahmedabad ?

Vitamin B12 lab test is also known by other names such as Cyanocobalamine; Serum B12 Level.

Vitamin B12 lab test is frequently done with some other related lab tests such as Complete Blood Count, Methylmalonic Acid, Homocysteine, B Vitamins, Intrinsic Factor Antibody, Parietal Cell Antibody, Reticulocyte Count, Blood Smear.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is necessary for hematopoiesis and normal neuronal function. In humans, it is obtained only from animal proteins and requires intrinsic factor (IF) for absorption. The body uses its vitamin B12 stores very economically, reabsorbing vitamin B12 from the ileum and returning it to the liver; very little is excreted.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may be due to lack of IF secretion by gastric mucosa (eg, gastrectomy, gastric atrophy) or intestinal malabsorption (eg, ileal resection, small intestinal diseases).

Vitamin B12 deficiency frequently causes macrocytic anemia, glossitis, peripheral neuropathy, weakness, hyperreflexia, ataxia, loss of proprioception, poor coordination, and affective behavioral changes. These manifestations may occur in any combination; many patients have the neurologic defects without macrocytic anemia.

Pernicious anemia is a macrocytic anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency that is due to a lack of IF secretion by gastric mucosa.

Serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels are also elevated in vitamin B12 deficiency states.

Interpretation 
A serum vitamin B12 level less than 180 ng/L may cause megaloblastic anemia and peripheral neuropathies.

Vitamin B12 levels less than 150 ng/L is considered evidence of vitamin B12 deficiency. Follow-up with tests for antibodies to intrinsic factor (IFBA / Intrinsic Factor Blocking Antibody, Serum) are recommended to identify this potential cause of vitamin B12 malabsorption. For specimens without antibodies, follow-up testing of vitamin B12 tissue deficiency by measuring methylmalonic acid (MMA) (MMAS / Methylmalonic Acid [MMA], Quantitative, Serum) and/or homocysteine (HCYSP / Homocysteine, Total, Plasma) may be indicated if the patient is symptomatic.

Patients with serum B12 levels between 150 and 400 ng/L are considered borderline and should be evaluated further by functional tests for vitamin B12 deficiency. The plasma homocysteine level is a good screening test. A normal level effectively excludes vitamin B12 and folate deficiency in an asymptomatic patient. However, the test is not specific and many situations can cause an increased level. In contrast, an increased serum MMA level is more specific for cellular-level B12 deficiency and is not increased by folate deficiency.

Cautions 

Patients taking vitamin B12 supplementation may have misleading results.

Recent vitamin B12 administration could result in normal or elevated serum concentrations; therefore, this test should not be ordered on patients who have received a vitamin B12 injection within the past 2 weeks.

Many other conditions are known to cause an increase or decrease in the serum vitamin B12 concentration that should be considered in the interpretation of the assay results. As given below: 

Increased Serum B12 level occurs in case of: 

  • Ingestion of vitamin C
  • Ingestion of estrogens
  • Ingestion of vitamin A
  • Hepatocellular injury
  • Myeloproliferative disorder
  • Uremia

Decreased Serum B12 levels occurs in case of: 

  • Pregnancy
  • Aspirin
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Colchicine
  • Ethanol ingestion
  • Contraceptive hormones
  • Smoking
  • Hemodialysis
  • Multiple myeloma

The evaluation of macrocytic anemia requires measurement of both vitamin B12 and folate levels; ideally, they should be measured simultaneously.

Precautions : Inquire with the lab / follow your doctor's instructions

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for informational purposes only. Please contact your health care provider if you have health questions or concerns. Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee is made to that effect.

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