Cobalamin or Vitamin b12 is a water-soluble vitamin involved in the metabolism process. Vitamin b12 is needed by the body to form the DNA and the Red Blood Cells and it plays a crucial role in the functioning and development of the brain and nerve cells.
Vitamin b12 binds to the proteins we consume through food. In the stomach, B12 is converted to its free form by hydrochloric acid and stomach enzymes.
Since vitamin b12 plays such an important function in the human body, it is important to ensure it is always present in the body in an adequate amount.
How to ensure vitamin b12 sufficiency in the body?
Vitamin B12 can be found in several food items consumed by us. Vitamin b12 rich foods are easily available in the market.
It is recommended to consume the essential nutrients as naturally as possible. People should try to eat an as nutritious and protein-rich diet as possible. Vitamin b12 deficiency is rarely found in people who follow a good diet and avoid dairy and processed food items.
Some great natural sources of vitamin b12 are:
- Liver and kidneys of certain animals- non-veg food can be very nutritious and packed with essential nutrients. Lamb liver and lamb kidneys are considered great sources of vitamin b12. Apart from lamb liver, beef and veal liver contain high amounts of vitamin b12 as well.
- Clams- these small, tiny shellfishes are packed with nutrition and vitamin b12. They contain lean protein as well as great amounts of vitamin b12.
- Sardines- Sardines are a type of fish. Fishes are a great source of essential nutrition. However, sardines are not commonly found like other common types of fish in the market. Sardines are available in canned containers and sometimes sardine oils can be found too. Sardines are not just a great source of vitamin b12 but contain a good quantity of almost all types of proteins.
- Cereal- several people do not consume meat. Such people sometimes find it difficult to attain their needed portion of proteins. For such people, fortified cereals are a great source of consuming vitamin b12.
- Supplements- for people who find it difficult to consume the natural sources of vitamin b12, several supplements are available in the market. These supplements are available in the form of tablets and capsules and can be easily consumed with water.
What are the normal b12 levels in the body?
The normal b12 levels in the body range between 190 to 950. Since b12 is an essential nutrient, it can be worrisome if the levels go below or under or higher than the normal levels. This is why you should get regular b12 tests.
Checking vitamin b12 levels in the body:
Vitamin b12 is an essential protein, it is important to ensure its availability in the body. For this purpose, a b12 test is conducted.
The process of conducting a vitamin b12 test:
- You do not need to fast or avoid any food products before the vitamin b12 test unless specifically asked to by your doctor.
- Like any other ordinary blood test, visit your nearest lab for your b12 test.
- The technician will find a nerve on your forearm and tie a rubber tube around your arm.
- The technician will then clean the skin with alcohol.
- After that, the technician will insert a small needle into your nerve.
- The technician will have a small tube-like container attached to the syringe in which your blood extracted will be automatically filled.
- Once the container is filled, the technician will slowly remove the tube, then take the syringe out. He or she will then place the cotton on your skin.
The process of the b12 test is this simple.
The results of the vitamin b12 test are usually delivered within 12 hours of collecting the blood sample.
What does the result in a b12 test mean?
B12 test can help you determine the level of vitamin b12 in your body. You can take supplements or protein-rich food and make lifestyle changes accordingly.
Let us discuss what the results of a vitamin b12 test mean.
- The range can be slightly different depending upon labs, but most doctors agree that the levels between 190 and 950 are normal.
- If your b12 test results show your b12 levels between 200 and 300, doctors usually consider it borderline. In such a case, more testing may be recommended or desired.
- Depending on your b12 test results, if the levels are low, your doctor might recommend some other tests like the folate test. This is because the symptoms of the two can be similar.
What if the results are fine?
If your vitamin b12 test results show sufficiency, then you do not need to take any extraordinary measures to maintain your health. It is a sign that you are already following a desirable lifestyle and a good diet. You should simply continue with that.
How to understand if you need a test?
Your body constantly shows signs of what it needs. If your body does not have enough vitamin b12, it will alert you. When the levels are low, your body will start showing some symptoms. The most common signs of low vitamin b12 are:
- Fatigue- fatigue and constantly feeling tired can be a sign of low vitamin b12.
- Numbing or tingling- the feeling of numbness or tingling sensation in your limbs or other body parts can be a sign of low b12 levels.
- Headaches and moodiness- while headaches are common and can occur due to various reasons, recurring headaches and moodiness could be a sign of low b12 levels.
If you are experiencing any of these, it is advisable to get a b12 test. If the results are normal, you will know you are healthy. If they are not, you can take measures to correct it.