General Health

Vitamin B12 Test: Uses, Normal Range, Deficiency

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 18 August 2023, Updated on - 26 August 2023

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A vitamin B12 blood test is an important diagnostic process, which offers valuable insights into one's vitamin B12 levels. It is essential that one identifies vitamin B12 deficiency early because it can lead to major health issues. Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy neurological system, supporting the production of red blood cells, and preserving cognitive function. Read ahead to know more about what is vitamin B12 test, its importance, and the interpretation of test results.

What Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Cobalamin, frequently known as vitamin B12, is a nutrient that's an important production of red blood cells, nerve health, DNA synthesis, and the overall functioning of the nervous system. It is primarily obtained from animal-based foods such as meat, fish, poultry items and dairy products. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to the development of neurological issues, anaemia, weariness, weakness, immobility, and tingling sensations. Conversely, excessive levels of vitamin B12 are rare but may indicate an underlying medical condition known as hypervitaminosis B12. 

When To Take A Vitamin B12 Test?

The best time to have a vitamin B12 blood test depends on your history, symptoms, and daily activities. This vitamin deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and weakness: If you experience persistent fatigue, weakness, or a general lack of energy, it might be a sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Neurological symptoms: Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty walking, memory problems, and mood changes can all suggest a potential deficiency.
  • Anaemia: Certain types of anaemia, such as megaloblastic anaemia, can be linked to a deficiency in vitamin B12. Symptoms might include pale skin, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as certain antacids or those used to treat diabetes, can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12.
  • Pregnancy:  Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals may require additional vitamin B12, and testing can help ensure adequate levels for both the mother and the baby.
  • Age: Older adults may be at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to changes in stomach acid production and decreased absorption.

However, it is advisable to consult your doctor if you are showing symptoms of vitamin B12 insufficiency or have a family history of illnesses that could affect your vitamin B12 levels. Additionally, people who consume a vegan or vegetarian diet, as well as those with gastrointestinal disorders may be at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Understanding Vitamin B12 Test Results

During a vitamin B12 test, a healthcare professional will collect a blood sample, usually from a vein in your arm. Understanding vitamin B12 test results involves interpreting the levels of this essential nutrient in your blood. A typical vitamin B12 test measures the concentration of B12 in picograms per millilitre (pg/mL) or picomoles per litre (pmol/L). 

  • Normal Range: Normal vitamin B12 concentrations are typically around 200-900 pg/mL, though precise reference values may change slightly between laboratories. A result within this range indicates that your B12 levels are adequate for overall health.
  • Low B12 Levels: If the vitamin B12 level is below the reference range, then it indicates a deficiency of the nutrient. This could be due to dietary insufficiency, absorption issues, or certain medical conditions. Low B12 levels might lead to anaemia, fatigue, neurological symptoms, and other health problems.
  • High B12 Levels: In some cases, unusually high B12 levels might be observed. This can occur due to excessive B12 supplementation, certain liver conditions, or other underlying health issues. It's essential to explore the cause of elevated B12 levels with a healthcare professional.

How To Manage Vitamin B12 Deficiency At Home?

Lifestyle and dietary changes can help manage vitamin B12 deficiency at home. It is important to remember that if you suspect lower levels of vitamin B12, then you must consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Consume foods high in vitamin B12 in your diet. Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Breakfast cereals

Some other helpful measures include:

  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking
  • Supporting digestive health
  • Managing underlying conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders


A valuable tool for determining one's vitamin B12 levels to identify related deficiency is a vitamin B12 test. This quick blood test offers medical practitioners crucial data to direct appropriate interventions. Understanding the test results is essential for determining whether vitamin B12 levels are within the normal range or if a deficiency exists. Regular monitoring of vitamin B12 levels is important, particularly for individuals at higher risk of deficiency, to prevent complications and ensure optimal health. 

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1. What typical signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are there?  

Fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, memory issues, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating are typical signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.   

2. How can I improve my vitamin B12 levels? 

Increasing vitamin B12 levels can be done in a number of ways. Eating wholesome meals including meat, fish, poultry items and dairy items is the most widely used strategy. Also, vitamin B12 supplements may be advised for people with dietary restrictions or problems with absorption.   

3. Are there any drawbacks or difficulties with vitamin B12 testing?  

Testing for vitamin B12 levels is a process with few risks and is generally safe. The most frequent adverse reaction is little bruising or pain at the site of the blood sample. Rarely, people may experience light-headedness.


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