B12 vitamin deficiency
A diagnosis ofvitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia canoften be made by your GP based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests.
Different types ofblood tests can be carried out tohelp identify people with a possiblevitamin B12 or folate deficiency. These tests check:
However, some people can have problems with their normal levels of these vitaminsor mayhave low levels despite having no symptoms.This is why it's important for your symptoms to be taken into account when a diagnosis is made.
A particular drawback of testing vitamin B12 levels is that the current widely-used blood test only measures the total amount of vitamin B12 in your blood.
This meansit measuresforms of vitamin B12 that are "active" and can be used by your body, as well as the "inactive" forms, which can't. If a significant amount of the vitamin B12 in your blood is "inactive", a blood test may show that you have normal B12 levels,even though your body can't use much of it.
There are some types of blood test thatmay help determine if the vitamin B12 in your blood can be used by your body, but these aren't yet widely available.
If your symptoms and blood test results suggest a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, your GP may arrange further tests. If the cause can be identified,it willhelpto determine the most appropriate treatment.
For example,you may have additional blood tests to check for a condition called pernicious anaemia. This is an autoimmune condition (where your immune system produces antibodies to attack healthy cells), which means you're unable to absorb vitamin B12 from the food you eat.
Tests for pernicious anaemia aren't always conclusive, but they can oftengive your GP a good idea of whether you have the condition.
You may be referred to a specialist for further tests or treatment. This may include:
Adietitian can devise a personalised eating plan for you to increase the amount of vitamin B12 or folate in your diet.
Read our page onB vitamins and folic acidfor information about good sources of these vitamins.
Read about vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, which occurs when a lack of vitamin B12 or folate causes the body to produce abnormally large red blood cells
Read about the symptoms of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, which usually develop gradually but can worsen if the condition goes untreated
Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia occurs when a lack of either of these vitamins affects the bodys ability to produce fully functioning red blood cells.
Read about diagnosing vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, which can often be diagnosed by your GP based on your symptoms and the results of blood tests
Read about treatment options for vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, which will depend on what's causing the condition.
Read about complications of vitamin B12 deficiency or folate deficiency, which are rare as the condition can usually be easily and effectively treated