Vitamin B12 deficiency is closely associated with serious neurological disorders, such as peripheral neuropathy and dementia, as well as various spinal cord problems. And while it can affect people of pretty much any age, it is more frequent in the elderly. Vegetarians also are at a greater risk of having B12 deficiency, because vitamin B12 is taken in primarily from animal food sources. Similarly, people who engage in recreational drug or heavy alcohol use may also be unable to sustain proper B12 vitamin levels. Nonetheless, even if you do not belong to a higher risk category, it is important to check for this deficiency at least once per year. The traditional vitamin B12 deficiency test method consists of a simple examination of B12 vitamin levels in the human blood.
Vitamin B12 deficiency test
Recent research from the University of Saint Louis, however, has indicated that this vitamin B12 deficiency test alone may be insufficient to determine vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, it was found that more than three quarters of 34 patients with otherwise normal B12 blood levels exhibited increased levels of methylmalonic acid (MMA), a naturally occurring compound in the human body whose concentration increases when vitamin B12 is in shortage. The researchers therefore suggest that doctors who believe their patients to be lacking vitamin B12, should also test them for proper levels of methylmalonic acid.
In some difficult cases however, even the above b12 deficiency tests might not be enough. If vitamin B12 deficiency is suspected as the cause of damage to the nervous system, an analysis in cerebrospinal fluid is necessary. Of course, this is a heavily invasive procedure and should only be conducted if all other tests are unreaveling.
Why vitamin B12 deficiency test is necessary
In any event, it is important to note that vitamin B12 deficiency, if left unattended, can have grave effects on the health of an individual. At the slightest suspicion of such a deficiency, patients and doctors alike should carry out the necessary vitamin B12 deficiency test to determine if it is indeed the case. It should be especially stressed that neither the tests nor the potential treatment are particularly expensive. In fact, even if a person is diagnosed with this deficiency, the most usual method of treatment is a simple oral supplementation. It is only in very severe cases that more intrusive methods, such as intramuscular injections or blood transfusion, may be considered.