Vitamin B12 and Folate
This tests for Vitamin B12 and Folate, which are vitamins that are necessary for normal red blood cell (RBC) formation, white blood cell (WBC) formation, repair of tissues and cells, and DNA production. Both must be supplied by the diet or supplementation because the body is not able to produce them.
People who are deficient in Vitamin B12 and Folate may not have any symptoms or may present with symptoms of anemia or nerve damage. General symptoms related to anemia and nerve damage include fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, depression, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, headaches, moodiness, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Some people may not have all or any of these symptoms but still have deficiency. Early detection is important to prevent irreversible damage over time, especially to the nervous system.
Women with insufficient folate intakes are at increased risk of giving birth to infants with neural tube defects. Low levels of folate have also been associated with low infant birth weight, preterm delivery, and fetal growth restriction1.
Generally, people that are the most likely to have a deficiency of one or both vitamins have:
- Problems absorbing the vitamins
- Poor or restricted nutritional intake
- Interference from a medication they are taking
- Increased energy requirements (eg, pregnancy)
This test may be appropriate for you if you are:
- A pregnant woman or a nursing mother
- 65 years and older
- An individual at risk for gastrointestinal absorption problems such as Celiac disease, Crohn disease, partial bowel removal, pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis
- A strict vegetarian or vegan
- A recent alcohol abuser
- Taking certain medications: metformin for diabetes, long term use of antacid drugs (proton pump inhibitor and H2 blockers), phenytoin, methotrexate, chloramphenicol, and sulfa antibiotics
1 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements. Folate: fact sheet for health professionals. NIH website. Updated March 11, 2020. Accessed March 18, 2020.