Your healthcare provider may recommend you get a vitamin B12 test done if you’ve been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia. Vitamin B12 levels may also be monitored during routine blood tests at a doctor’s visit. These tests can help confirm whether or not you may be deficient in vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for optimal functioning of the body. Vitamin B12 has many benefits, and it is necessary for processes in the body such as red blood cell production, nervous system functions, and cellular energy metabolism. 

Continue reading to learn more about the test for vitamin B12 – how it is done, the preparation needed, what the results mean, and how much it might cost you. 

What Is a Vitamin B12 Test?

If your doctor recommends a vitamin B12 test, you may be experiencing a B12 deficiency. This test checks the amount of B12 vitamin currently being circulated in your blood. A vitamin B12 test is often used to rule out other possible health conditions that may be causing certain signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. 

How Is a Vitamin B12 Test Performed?

A vitamin B12 test is performed with a small needle that is used to extract blood from a vein in your arm. Depending on the number of other tests required, the amount of blood extracted can be between 5 to 10 mL. After a blood sample is collected, it is sent to a lab for analysis. Generally, there is no need to fast prior to the test, although some providers may ask you to avoid eating or drinking 6 to 8 hours before the test. If your doctor will be requesting other blood tests, it is important to confirm with them. 

You should also tell your doctor if you’re taking any medication or supplements since they may affect the results. In many instances, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications or supplements a few days before the vitamin B12 test. 

Is a Test for Vitamin B12 Necessary?

While a vitamin B12 blood test can identify a possible deficiency, many doctors do not require the test to start the supplementation. Many healthcare professionals can prescribe vitamin B12 supplements based on the symptoms being experienced by the patient. However, most providers will want to confirm a diagnosis of a deficiency before recommending vitamin B12 supplementation. 

How Is the Result Interpreted?

Interpretation of the vitamin B12 test results is often done by a licensed physician. The healthcare provider will evaluate the results against your medical history and physical examination. But while it is best to consult your doctor to understand the vitamin B12 blood test result, you may want to know the reference values as well. 

The normal vitamin B12 range is between 160 to 950 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL). If your result is within this range, it means that you are likely not experiencing a B12 deficiency. Your doctor may look into your other blood tests to check the root cause of your symptoms. 

A low level of vitamin B12 may be anything below 160 pg/mL. This suggests a possible vitamin B12 deficiency, pernicious anemia, or an overactive thyroid gland. Further laboratory testing may be needed to accurately diagnose your condition. 

Results over 950 pg/mL may be associated with abnormally high levels of B12. This may indicate possible liver or kidney issues, leukemia, or diabetes. Again, further investigation is needed for these cases. 

It is also important to remember that different laboratories and providers may set slightly different range values for evaluating normal or abnormal vitamin B12 levels. 

What Is the Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Treating vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively straightforward. A healthcare provider will often prescribe B12 supplements that come in pills or tablets. But if the deficiency is severe or the patient requires it, a B12 shot or injection is recommended since this form enters the blood faster. 

Apart from supplements, you should also look into your diet. Food rich in vitamin B12 should be included in your daily meals. You can talk to your nutritionist or provider about how you can ensure a balanced meal while maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels. 

How Much Does a Vitamin B12 Blood Test Cost?

Now that you know what a vitamin B12 test is, your next concern may be the cost. There are several factors affecting the price, and it depends on the laboratory where you get the test done. Prices vary from one state to another but it can range from $35 to as high as $75. The amount may increase if you want to get an immediate result. Otherwise, results are typically released within 2 to 3 days. If you want a same-day result, you may have to pay additional charges. You can also check the websites of laboratories and compare prices to find the best deal for you. 

Take Away

A vitamin B12 test is a regular blood test requested for patients showing signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is a routine test done in most laboratories. If you think you need it, consult your doctor for further medical guidance.

The experts at Medical Weight Loss Centers of America are available to answer any questions you may have about vitamin B12 tests and supplementation. Vitamin B12 supplementation may be recommended if you’re experiencing reduced energy levels on a consistent basis.