The use of daily vitamin pills has become popular in recent years as part of a healthy lifestyle. Vitamin B12 is also one of the most popular vitamins to take in pill form. But what exactly is vitamin B12, what does it do and why is it so important to check your vitamin B12 levels regularly? Furthermore, how can a home vitamin B12 test be more convenient than a vitamin B12 test at the GP’s office? Read on to learn more about this essential vitamin and why testing from home may be the solution for you.
What is vitamin B12?
Although the name might suggest that it is a single vitamin, vitamin B12 is actually a group of water-soluble vitamins, also known as cobalamins. Vitamin B12 is absorbed through the intestines and is also produced there in small amounts by the body itself. However, the amount produced in the body is far below the daily amount required, which is why people are dependent on an external supply through diet or supplements.
The human body has a vitamin B12 store of approximately 2-5mg. Vitamin B12 is primarily stored in the liver, where it can remain for approximately 5 years.
What does vitamin B12 do?
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for the human body and has several tasks. First, vitamin B12 is particularly important for blood formation, cell division and nerve function. Additionally, vitamin B12 is involved in the following processes:
- DNA Synthesis
- Breakdown of fatty acids
- Function of brain and nerve cells
- Support of the immune system
- Part of homocysteine metabolism
How much vitamin B12 do I need?
Most people consume enough vitamin B12 through their diet alone. Vitamin B12 deficiency usually only occurs in people with certain diets or medical conditions. The daily requirement of vitamin B12 depends on age and life stand. Below you will find an overview of these requirements.
|Life Stage||Daily requirement of vitamin B12 in µg|
|0 – 4 Months||0,5|
|4 – 12 Months||1,4|
|1 – 4 Years||1,5|
|4 – 7 Years||2,0|
|7 – 10 Years||2,5|
|10 – 13 Years||3,5|
|13 – 18 Years||4,0|
What foods are high in vitamin B12?
As already mentioned, it is entirely possible to achieve your daily requirement of vitamin B12 through diet, without much additional supplementation. However, vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products such as liver, fish, eggs or dairy products. Plant-based foods typically have much less vitamin B12, other than plant-based foods that have gone through a fermentation process. These include, for example, sauerkraut and beer. Other plant based foods that contain vitamin B12 are fortified cereals and plant milks, seaweed, and nutritional yeast.
What are the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Since plant-based foods contain much lower levels of vitamin B12, it is often not possible for vegetarian or vegan people to obtain their daily vitamin B12 requirement through diet alone. Therefore, many people that follow a plant-based diet are dependent on vitamin B12 supplements, such as tablets or injections. If people with a vitamin B12 deficiency do not consume enough vitamin B12, this can have serious health consequences.
Since vitamin B12 is required for several different processes in the body, a vitamin B12 deficiency has various symptoms. The first sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency is low hemoglobin, also known as anemia. Vitamin B12 is also essential for brain function and a deficiency can cause neurological symptoms such as vision problems, memory loss, and reduced physical coordination. Other ongoing symptoms may include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle weakness
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Food intolerance or allergies
Have you done a vitamin B12 self-test and are your levels are below the target values? Then we recommend an anemia test to also check for an iron deficiency and low hemoglobin.
How much does a vitamin B12 test cost?
It is possible to evaluate your vitamin B12 levels both at your family doctor and at home with a self-test. But which test is better? Are there any differences between the tests? How much does a vitamin B12 test at the family doctor cost?
Depending on where you have your vitamin B12 test done, you can expect prices from €30 to €70 for a laboratory evaluation. However, this is not including the fee for taking blood from the doctor. The costs of a vitamin B12 test are usually not covered by your insurance unless your doctor prescribes a test to check that you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
At Homed-IQ we offer two self-tests that you can use to check your vitamin B12 levels. With both the Vitamin Deficiency Test and the Vegan and Vegetarian Blood Test, you can check your Vitamin B12 levels along with other essential vitamins and minerals. These tests always include laboratory evaluation, just like a test performed at the doctor’s office. This not only saves you money, but also the time you would have to spend at the doctor’s office and waiting for your test result!
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