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Posts Tagged ‘low B12 blood test’

7 Reasons for the B12 Epidemic

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

 

 

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental illness, physical impairments, cognitive problems, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and in certain situations- even death. Many wonder- if that’s the case, then why isn’t vitamin B12 deficiency, aka pernicious anemia, detected early-on, before B12 levels plummet to such an unhealthy, debilitating level?

7 Reasons for the B12 Epidemic

B12 deficiency is hard to find

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed- slips completely off the medical radar- for a variety of reasons having to do with our method for diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to the fact that there are so many illnesses that occur at the same time that have similar symptoms.

(See Top 10 Disorders Linked with B12 Deficiency)

If you already suffer from chronic depression or fibromyalgia, how would you know if you were running perilously close to developing pernicious anemia, unless your doctor screened for it routinely? (Most doctors don’t)

The problem with diagnosing the early signs of pernicious anemia is compounded by the fact that the medical community doesn’t consider it an epidemic anymore- not since scientists discovered a way of curing lethal pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 supplementation.

For many physicians, pernicious anemia awareness is practically an oxymoron.

7 Reasons for the B12 epidemic

Here are some of the main reasons that vitamin B12 deficiency continues to develop among millions of US citizens between the ages of 40 and 65:

1)      The nationally accepted standard for normal levels of serum vitamin B12 is too low to prevent many of the debilitating ailments that occur when levels are moderate to low.

2)      Other tests which can be used to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency, such as the methylmalonic acid or homocysteine test, are often ignored.

3)      The average medical student receives little or no training in how to detect and treat pernicious anemia.

4)      People who are most at risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency- senior citizens, diabetics, autoimmune disorder patients, or recipients of gastric bypass- are rarely reminded to check their vitamin B12 levels.

5)      Elderly citizens who fall frequently aren’t tested regularly for vitamin B12 deficiency, even though gait disturbances, dizziness, and balance problems are typical signs of pernicious anemia.

6)      Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often mask underlying vitamin B12 deficiency; nevertheless, doctors rarely conduct B12 screenings for patients with dementia, despite scientific evidence proving its beneficial properties for people suffering from memory loss, confusion, and paranoia.

What do you think?

Should pernicious anemia be recognized as an epidemic worthy of more research?

Should we raise our standards for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency, even when levels are moderate to low?

Does your doctor give enough attention to symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, or “pins and needles?”

Also read:

Shocking Must-See Video on Vitamin B12 Deficiency Crisis

Pernicious Anemia and Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Which Causes Which?

Tired All the Time? 30 Likely Causes of Daytime Fatigue

Image courtesy of Hey Paul

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in the Millions

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

 

 

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your blood levels of vitamin B12 drop to an unhealthy low. If you have vitamin B12 deficiency for an extended period, then you are risk for pernicious anemia. Today, experts believe that vitamin B12 deficiency is an overlooked epidemic striking millions of US citizens.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency in the Millions

How common is B12 deficiency?

In 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture stated that nearly two-fifths of all US citizens had some form of vitamin B12 deficiency. Their source of information was the Framingham Offspring Study, which found vitamin B12 deficiency in nearly 40% of 3,000 Framingham, Massachusetts residents between the ages of 26 and 83.

“I think there is a lot of undetected vitamin B12 deficiency out there,” said study author Katherine Tucker.

25 Medications that Cause Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Today, reports indicate that close to 47 million Americans suffer from middle-low to nearly depleted levels of vitamin B12.

Conflicting reports

So why do government reports such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey claim that the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among Americans is much lower- closer to 3% with severely low levels, and 20% with borderline B12 anemia?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed and ignored by doctors for many reasons:

First, we’ve been led to believe that pernicious anemia is no longer a fatal or even detrimental disease, so it has essentially fallen off the radar. Many doctors no longer test for vitamin B12 deficiency in their patients, because they believe that it is a non-issue.

Second, standards for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency are remarkably low and inefficient. Serum vitamin B12 screenings only look for lethally-low levels of vitamin B12, which occur only in a rare percentage of people with pernicious anemia. Middle-low ranges of vitamin B12 depletion that nevertheless cause debilitating symptoms are often ignored.

Here’s Your Brain on B12 Deficiency- Memory Loss and Aging

Finally, even people with “normal” levels of vitamin B12 in their system may exhibit symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, as the blood screenings don’t separate active vitamin B12 from stored vitamin B12. This is an important yet overlooked distinction, as only active molecules of vitamin B12 are able to carry out the biochemical functions necessary for survival.

B12 deficiency in vegetarians

According to a recent report on vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarians, vegans are at a higher risk for developing anemia from low vitamin B12 levels compared with vegetarians, and people who follow a vegetarian diet from birth are more at risk than those who made a change to their diet in adulthood.

In the scientific study conducted by the Department of Nutrition Science, the risk for vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarians is as follows:

  • Pregnant women- 62%
  • Children- 25-86%
  • Teens- 21-41%
  • Elderly 11-90%

What about Vegan Vitamin B12?

Signs of B12 deficiency

Some of the early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency are often mistaken for chronic depression, anxiety, or age-related dementia. Since vitamin B12 is needed for maintaining myelin, some of the symptoms of low vitamin B12 mimic those of multiple sclerosis.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Memory loss
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased motor control
  • “Pins and needles” in hands and feet
  • Muscle spasms, twitches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sore, burning red tongue

Do you currently get prescriptions for vitamin B12 shots ? If so, do you feel that you don’t get enough to prevent symptoms between doses?

Also read:

What Causes Vitamin B12 Malabsorption?

Top Ten Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency a Real Illness?

Image courtesy of xedos4

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.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Is Pernicious Anemia Megaloblastic?

What are the Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia- B12 deficiency?

Image courtesy of Thirteen Of Clubs/flickr

Worried about Low B12 Lab Results?

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

 

 

Did your recent lab work point to vitamin B12 deficiency? A low vitamin B12 blood test is serious. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include nerve damage, loss of red blood cells, and mood disorders.

WORRIED ABOUT LOW B12 LAB RESULTS? WWW.B12PATCH.COM

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient which your body extracts from food sources such as lean meats, dairy products, eggs and fish. Vitamin B12 is necessary for producing plenty of red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system, regulating homocysteine levels and monitoring DNA synthesis. A blood test which results in low B12 levels means that some of these vital bodily functions could be malfunctioning.

What causes low B12 levels?

There are many factors which can cause your B12 levels to dip dangerously low; these include:

  • Lack of intrinsic factor, a protein which is necessary for proper digestion of vitamin B12 from natural food sources
  • Long-term use of heartburn or antacid medication
  • Following a vegan diet, which excludes foods which are rich in vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs and fish.
  • Gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or gluten intolerance
  • Weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery.
  • Read Anorexic British Teen Regrets Gastric Bypass Surgery

My lab test results indicate vitamin B12 deficiency. Should I be worried?

Due to the fact that it dissolves in water, your body is not able to hold vitamin B12 in the system for long; vitamin B12 must be constantly replenished through protein-rich foods or vitamin B12 supplements, in order to avoid becoming deficient in B12.

Regular lab blood testing is crucial for catching vitamin B12 deficiency before it has a chance to create any lasting impairment. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to life-threatening illness and irreversible damage. These include:

  • Increased risk for heart attack, due to elevating levels of homocysteine
  • Dementia
  • Irreparable nerve damage
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Read AIDS with B12 Deficiency

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Some low vitamin B12 symptoms are often misdiagnosed as diabetes, mental illness or thyroid disorder.

Below is a list of common symptoms caused by vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Difficulty maintaining balance while walking
  • Altered taste perception
  • Dizziness while sitting upright
  • Read: B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves

Treatment

If you are not able to utilize sufficient stores of vitamin B12 naturally, then you must supplement regularly in order to avoid B12 deficiency.

For chronically low B12 levels, doctors have often administered vitamin B12 injections until symptoms abate.

Sublingual tablets are also often prescribed as a preventative measure, but recent studies indicate that under-the-tongue B12 supplements are not the most effective sources of B12, as they are not wholly digestible.

Also read:

New Study: Diabetes Drug Metformin Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency

B12: Celebs Say it’s the New C

Sources:

LIVESTRONG

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