Test Detail
Interpreting Results
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Content created by
Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Vitamin B12

(Vit B12)
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This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required


What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 test measures the levels of Vitamin B12 in blood. Vitamin B12 is needed for brain health, blood cell production, and proper nerve functioning. People who are obese or eat a lot of meat also tend to have higher-than-normal levels of this vitamin and are more prone to liver disease and diabetes.

 For people with high levels of B-12, treatment involves adjusting diet by eating fewer animal products, while for people with low levels, the treatment includes use of Vitamin B12 injection and supplements.

Why is Vit B12 done?

The Vitamin B12 test is performed:
  • To diagnose anemia

  • To diagnose neuropathy (numbness and pain due to nerve damage)

  • To evaluate nutritional status

  • To monitor the treatment for Vitamin B12


What does Vit B12 Measure?

Vitamin B12 is a part of B complex of vitamins. Vitamin B12 is also called as Cobalamin. It is a water soluble vitamin. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in formation of normal red blood cells, repair of tissues, DNA synthesis and genetic material in cells. It is not produced in the body and has to be taken in diet. The diet sources include red meat, fish, milk, poultry, yoghurt, eggs, fortified cereals, breads and other grain products. It can also be taken in the form of Vitamin B12 tablets or multivitamin pills. The deficiency of Vitamin B12 results in macrocytic anemia (size of red blood cells larger than normal).

Megaloblastic anemia is a type of macrocytic anemia, in which large size red blood cells called as macrocytes are produced. These red blood cells are fewer in number. There is a decrease in white blood cell count and platelet count. Megaloblastic anemia occurs due to acquired deficiency of Vitamin B12. The reason can be an inadequate dietary intake of Vitamin B12 or any problem in the absorption of Vitamin B12 from the intestines.

In case of problem in the absorption of Vitamin B12 from intestines, it is known as Pernicious anemia. It occurs due to lack of intrinsic factor which is present in secretions of the stomach.

Vitamin B12 is also important for nerve health and is taken as a nutritional supplement for the treatment of nerve damage.

Vitamin B12 binds with intrinsic factor (protein secreted by cells in the stomach). After binding, a complex is formed which is absorbed by the small intestine. In case of any disease interfering in this process can cause weakening of absorption of Vitamin B12.   

Interpreting Vit B12 results


The normal range is 211 - 911 pg/mL irrespective of sex and age.

High levels of Vitamin B12 may be seen in:

  • Kidney failure

  • Diabetes

  • Liver disease


Low levels of Vitamin B12 may be seen in:

  • Anemia

  • Hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid)

  • Worm infection

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Vit B12

Frequently Asked Questions about Vitamin B12

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
The signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, vision problems, painful tongue, mouth ulcers, fast and irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, tingling or numbness, and pins and needles or burning sensation in feet, hands, arms, and legs. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Q. What is the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Deficiency of vitamin B12 could be due to poor dietary intake, pernicious anemia (as it leads to poor absorption of vitamin B12), and certain types of stomach-related surgeries, such as weight loss surgery or any surgery of the intestines. Besides these, there are some medications that can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency and some disorders of the immune system (those that decrease our body’s natural immunity), such as Lupus or Graves’ disease. Consult your doctor if you have ever had any of these issues.
Q. What are the risks associated with vitamin B12 deficiency?
The risks associated with vitamin B12 deficiency are memory loss, confusional states, paranoia (especially in old age patients), infertility, heart diseases including heart failure (in severe cases of anemia), pregnancy complications and birth defects, and stomach cancer.
Q. Can vitamin B12 deficiency cause depression?
Yes, vitamin B12 deficiency may cause depression and other similar problems like anxiety, psychosis, dementia, and delirium. Vitamin B12 along with the other forms of vitamin B are extremely important in regulating chemicals that regulate our mood and behavior.
Q. How can I raise my vitamin B12 levels naturally?
Always consult your doctor if your vitamin B12 levels are lower than normal. However, incorporating foods rich in vitamin B12 such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, soy products, and fortified breakfast cereals can help raise your vitamin B12 levels naturally.
Q. What is the role of vitamin B12 in pregnancy?
Pregnant women need adequate nutrition for the proper growth and development of the baby. Low vitamin B12 levels may cause anemia, low birth weight, and growth retardation in the unborn baby. The baby can also suffer from serious problems like spina bifida (improper development of the baby’s spine), incomplete brain development, and other brain-related problems. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, or planning to conceive to know about any supplements that you may need during pregnancy.
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