Many people have approached me lately asking similar questions about vitamin B12 blood test range, results, etc. I decided to conclude all the how, why and what of the process in one place.
How Is Vitamin B12 Blood Test Performed?
The health care provider will wrap an elastic band around your arm to make the vein ‘full of blood’ and then draw it from the vein of your elbow, most of the time. He will then put an antiseptic over the place to clean it. The blood is collected in a vial that is attached to the needle. He then covers the site to stop your bleeding. Simpe, isn’t it? Low vitamin B12 levels be damned.
How Painful Is It?
Well, I can only speak from my experience. I was very afraid of these tests when I was a kid but right now all I feel is a little sting. That’s it. Most of the people I know kind of feel the same so I guess I can safely say that it’s not really painful. As always though, your miles may vary.
Vitamin B12 Blood Levels Range and Test Results
Normal values of vitamin B12 in blood are between 200 to 900 picograms per milileter. Talk to your lab and request the specific values since every lab values ‘normal range’ differently.
However, these values aren’t exactly correct because many people have been diagnosed with B12 deficiency even when their B12 levels were within the normal range. That means that the lower limit for normal B12 levels is rather too low and even if your test results show a normal value, you could be suffering from a B12 deficiency. Below are the preferred B12 values along with their interpretations:
Normal B12 status: >550 pg/ml
Deficient in B12: <550 pg/ml
Adequate to maintain a healthy nervous system and to prevent disease in elderly individuals: 1000 pg/ml
(Note: These are the preferred values and have been suggested by Pacholok & Stuart in their book ‘Could it be B12?’)
Take action immediately, it is far easier to treat a deficiency in its early beginning than later.
High levels of vitamin b12 in blood are very, very rare. This vitamin stores up in the liver, kidneys and muscles and any excess is usually drawn out in your urine. However, liver diseases (cirrhosis and hepatitis), and Myeloproliferative disorders (such as myelocytic leukemia or polycythemia vera) might increase your B12 levels, so do not overlook it.
What If I’m Found to Have a B12 Deficiency?
If you are found to be deficient, the average doctor will most probably begin a series of vitamin B12 shots. In the case of absorption issues, this is a smart choice. Otherwise, there are plenty of other treatments that may prove as effective. If you found yourself with low B12 levels, you may also be interested to read our list of foods high in B12.
Written with the help of Dr. Aqsa Ghazanfar, author of “The B12 Deficiency Survival Handbook“.