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Posts Tagged ‘b12 intrinsic factor’

Tests for Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Check your Levels!

Friday, October 11th, 2013



If you suffer from long-lasting fatigue, memory problems, or pins and needles sensations, then you should test for vitamin B12 deficiency right away. Tests for vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia include cobalamin level screenings, as well as tests to determine your ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food. For an accurate diagnosis, it’s a good idea to take advantage of as many tests as your doctor can offer.

Multiple Tests for Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Check your Levels!

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

While not all doctors or scientists agree as to what constitutes a healthy serum level of vitamin B12, the most widely accepted value is 200 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL).

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: The Invisible Epidemic!

Serum Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) Test

If you think you have vitamin B12 deficiency, then the first course of action will be to order a serum cobalamin test to see how much vitamin B12 is in your blood supply. This blood test will check for low vitamin B12 levels even in people who don’t have pernicious anemia or symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. But it is not foolproof- a false normal test result can occur, especially in people who have liver disorders, renal insufficiency, or bone marrow disease.

Complete blood count (CBC)

A CBC is sometimes used to diagnose anemia, including vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’re suffering from extreme fatigue, unexplained bruising, or dizziness, then your doctor may order a complete blood count to count red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, a positive test result does not rule out vitamin B12 deficiency.

Methylmalonic Acid Tes

Another helpful tool for accurately testing for vitamin B12 deficiency is the Methylmalonic acid (MMA) test, as MMA levels increase dramatically with vitamin B12 deficiency.

This is an expensive test, so it’s not commonly used for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency. In 2006, an MMA test for vitamin B12 deficiency without insurance could cost over $200.00

Intrinsic Factor Blocking Antibody (IFAB) Test

Sometimes, pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency occurs because of an autoimmune condition that destroys intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme crucial for vitamin B12 absorption.

A positive IFAB test result means that you have antibodies to intrinsic factor, resulting in the inability to digest vitamin B12 naturally from foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and egg products.

Schilling Test

Though not available in the US, the Schilling test is considered an effective method for diagnosing vitamin B12 malabsorption. Rather than checking for vitamin B12 levels in the blood, the Schilling test gauges your ability to absorb crystalline vitamin B12. However, a normal test result does not rule out vitamin B12 deficiency.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A thorough physical examination and review of your medical history will help your doctor determine if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.

But since no tests for vitamin B12 deficiency are 100% accurate, it’s important to recognize the classic symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, so that you can help your physician make an informed decision.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Long-lasting fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Painful numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Sore tongue
  • Burning, itching sensations
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Tinnitus (ear ringing)
  • Difficulty walking in a straight line

Please tell us…

Which tests for vitamin B12 deficiency have you taken, besides the B12 blood test?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Is Pernicious Anemia Megaloblastic?

What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?

Image courtesy of Thirteen Of Clubs/flickr

B12 Deficiency and Pernicious anemia

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Pernicious anemia (also known as Biermer’s anemia, Addison’s anemia, or Addison-Biermer anemia) is a form of megaloblastic anemia which occurs due to a vitamin B12 deficiency. It is most often caused by impaired absorption of vitamin B12 in the GI tract due to the absence of intrinsic factor in the setting of atrophic gastritis, and more specifically of loss of gastric parietal cells. Future posts will fully describe and explain exactly the functions of these processes.

The name of the disease comes from the historical fact that early sufferers were always properly diagnosed after they were classified as anemic (had low blood hemoglobin levels). However, with more modern tests which specifically target B12 absorption, the disease may properly be diagnosed before patients actually become anemic. An individual with this illness will have to supplement his/her B-12 for the rest of their lives or risk the onslaught of extremely unpleasant symptoms. Most commonly the cause for impaired binding of vitamin B12 by intrinsic factor is autoimmune atrophic gastritis, in which the person’s own antibodies are directed against certain cells, resulting in their death, as well as against the intrinsic factor itself, rendering it unable to bind vitamin B-12.

Sometimes the loss of the GI cells may simply due to a weakening digestive system, such as that frequently occurring in elderly people affected and Helicobacter pylori infection. Note that forms of vitamin B12 deficiency other than pernicious anemia must be considered as a B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia, which is easily mistaken for classical pernicious anemia, The deficiency may also be caused by infection with a tapeworm, possibly due to the parasite’s competition for vitamin B12

The treatment of Pernicious Anemia varies from country to country and from area to area, but there is yet no cure. Cobalamin (one of the forms of B-12) is usually injected and is given every month in some countries and every three months in others. The single most common cause of complaint by members of the Pernicious Anemia Society is that patients needs vary and some patients need more frequent injections than others.

Patients who are needle-phobic, or patients who are unable to receive injections for another reason can be prescribed cyanocobalmin tablets in very high doses, which means that some of the B12 is absorbed in other places in the bowel other than the terminal ileum where B12 absorption usually takes place. The efficacy of using B12 tablets to treat pernicious anemia (by definition due to atrophic gastritis) is likely not to be sufficient, as the body will have trouble absorbing it as it does from food.

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