- How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The healthcare provider will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.
- Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
- What are the risks associated with deficiency of Vitamin B12?
If deficiency of Vitamin B12 is not treated quickly, it can lead to memory loss, confusional states, paranoia (mental condition in which a person loses touch with reality) especially in old age patients.
- What are the signs and symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
The signs and symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include confusional states, paranoia, dizziness, diarrhea, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, pale skin, fast heart rate, irregular heart beat, shortness of breath, painful tongue and mouth, tingling or numbness or burning sensation in feet, hands, arms, and legs.
- When does the doctor advise Vitamin B12 test?
The doctor advises Vitamin B12 test in people with a history of malnutrition or any condition leading to malabsorption (improper absorption).
- In what conditions there can be malabsorption of Vitamin B12 test?
Conditions like pernicious anemia (decrease in red blood cells due to deficiency of Vitamin B12), celiac disease (immune reaction to gluten), inflammatory bowel diseases (inflammation of digestive tract), overgrowth of bacteria or presence of parasites such as tapeworms in intestines, reduction in stomach acid production (due to long term use of antacids), gastric bypass (surgery that removes part of the stomach), insufficiency of pancreas (inability to digest food properly).
- Can any medicine cause a deficiency of Vitamin B12?
Yes, some medicines such as metformin, omeprazole, methotrexate or phenytoin can cause a deficiency of Vitamin B12.
- Are there any other factors which cause a deficiency of Vitamin B12?
Yes, factors such as smoking, drinking heavy alcohol or chronic (from a long time) alcoholism, pregnancy can cause deficiency of Vitamin B12.