Wondering what it was you wanted to ask or what you were busy with again? Feeling tired or dizzy? 

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and why it gets missed so often...

Why is B12 deficiency so under-diagnosed?

B12 deficiency is often missed for two reasons. First, it’s not routinely tested by most physicians. Second, the low end of the laboratory reference range is too low. This is why most studies underestimate true levels of deficiency. Many B12 deficient people have so-called “normal” levels of B12.

Yet it is well-established in the scientific literature that people with B12 levels between 200 pg/mL and 350 pg/mL – levels considered “normal” in the U.S. – have clear B12 deficiency symptoms. Experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of B12 deficiency, like Sally Pacholok R.N. and Jeffery Stewart D.O., suggest treating all patients that are symptomatic and have B12 levels less than 450 pg/mL. They also recommend treating patients with normal B12, but elevated urinary methylmalonic acid (MMA), homocysteine and/or holotranscobalamin (other markers of B12 deficiency).

What are Normal levels

In Japan and Europe, the lower limit for B12 is between 500-550 pg/mL, the level associated with psychological and behavioral manifestations such as cognitive decline, dementia and memory loss. Some experts have speculated that the acceptance of higher levels as normal in Japan and the willingness to treat levels considered “normal” in the U.S. explain the low rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia in that country.

Get tested

If you suspect you have B12 deficiency, the first step is to get tested. You need an accurate baseline to work from. If you are B12 deficient, the next step is to identify the mechanism causing the deficiency. This is something you’ll probably need help with from a medical practitioner. Once the mechanism is identified, the appropriate form (injection, oral, sublingual or nasal) of supplementation, the dose and the length of treatment can be selected.

So, next time you or someone you know is “having a senior moment”, remember: it might not be “just aging”. It could be B12 deficiency.