B12 Status Panel - Laboratory Testing

Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of the myelin sheath around the nerves, and the conduction of nerve impulses. Loss of the myelin sheath is part of the process that leads to optic nerve cell death in glaucoma.11

Another problem in glaucoma is glutamate excitotoxcity, which can kill optic nerve cells. Vitamin B12 helps moderate glutamate in the brain and optic nerve. Vitamin B12 also has been shown to encourage healthy cognitive, memory, and emotional function.1

This B12 Status Panel contains the following tests:

  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • Folate
  • Urinary Methylmalonic Acid (MMA)

B12 and folic acid blood testing help doctors diagnose central nervous system disorders, anemia, and malabsorption syndromes. B12 and folic acid also play an important role in energy level, muscle strength and memory.

Methylmalonic Acid (MMA) found in the urine is often associated with the early stages of B12 deficiency. MMA may be ordered along with a homocysteine test, when a vitamin B12 deficiency is suspected. An MMA test also may be ordered as a follow-up to an elevated homocysteine level.

An 8-12 hour fast is required for this test. Take all medications as prescribed. Do not take your supplements the morning of the test.

Vitamin B12 has long been associated with the treatment of anemia, but the neurological effects of B12 deficiency can occur even in the absence of anemia, particularly in those over the age of 60. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in impaired mental function, often first manifesting as “slower thinking,” confusion, and memory lapses. Even a blood level of vitamin B12 that is moderately below the optimum can result in considerable damage to the brain and nervous system.5

Moreover, it is now understood that a significant number of cognitive and emotional aptitudes depend on an optimal level of vitamin B12. In cognitive tests of elderly people, those who had the poorest scores had the lowest blood levels of vitamin B12. People diagnosed with depression have low plasma levels of cobalt, the mineral that forms the center of the vitamin B12 molecule.

Because B12 and folate are derived solely from dietary intake, such as egg yolks, beef, poultry and fish, many people are deficient in these important vitamins. And Vitamin B12 absorption declines with age.

Long before anemia sets in, B12 deficiency causes several other problems, including fatigue, lethargy, weakness, memory loss and neurological and psychiatric problems.

B12 deficiency occurs in four stages, beginning with declining blood levels of the vitamin (stage I), progressing to low cellular concentrations of the vitamin (stage II), an increased blood level of homocysteine and a decreased rate of DNA synthesis (stage III), and finally, macrocytic anemia (stage IV).

An 8-12 hour fast is required for this test. Take all medications as prescribed. Do not take your supplements the morning of the test.

Take control of your own health with this innovative blood testing service.

  • Affordable prices
  • No insurance required or accepted
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Testing is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Order here! (Not available in Maryland)
  2. Take the requisition† you’ll receive by email (or mail) to a local LabCorp Patient Service Center.
  3. Have your blood drawn at your convenience.

So is understanding your results!

  1. Your results will be sent directly to you … by mail, e-mail or fax. Or you can view them online. It’s your call.
  2. Results take 3 days to 3 weeks to receive, depending on the complexity of the blood tests ordered and your chosen method of delivery.
  3. Once you receive them, discuss them with your own doctor. You can also call 1-800-226-2370 and ask a knowledgeable Life Extension Health Advisors for help in understanding your blood test results.

*Blood testing services are available only in the continental United States and Anchorage, AK. Not available in Maryland.

†Your blood test requisition options are a LabCorp requisition form or a blood draw kit. Certain restrictions apply for residents of MA, NY, NJ, RI, and PA. Customers in MA, NY, NJ, and RI will receive a blood draw kit, and an additional local blood draw fee may be incurred. PA customers must go to LabCorp for their blood draw.


The laboratory services are for informational purposes only. It is not the intention of National Diagnostics, Inc and Life Extension to provide specific medical advice but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health. Specific medical advice including diagnosis and treatment will not be provided. Always seek the advice of a trained health professional for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Both the physician and the testing laboratory are independent contractors with whom National Diagnostics, Inc makes arrangements for your blood tests. Neither National Diagnostics, Inc or Life Extension will be liable for any acts or omissions of the physician, the testing laboratory, or their agents or employees.

Information on this page is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a competent health care professional. You should not use this information in diagnosing or treating a health problem. No claim or opinion expressed on this web site is intended to be, nor should be construed to be, medical advice. If you are now taking any drugs, prescribed or not, or have a medical condition, please consult a competent physician who is aware of herb/drug interactions before taking any herbal supplements. The information presented herein has not been evaluated by the FDA or the Department of Health and is not intended to diagnose, prevent or treat any disease or illness.

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Related article:

LE Magazine, July 2004 - All About Supplements: Vitamin B12


1. Akaike A, Tamura Y, Sato Y, Yokota T. Protective effects of a vitamin B12 analog, methylcobalamin, against glutamate cytotoxicity in cultured cortical neurons. Eur J Pharmacol. 1993 Sep 7;241(1):1-6.

2. Verhoef P, Kok FJ, Kruyssen DA, et al. Plasma total homocysteine, B vitamins, and risk of coronary atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1997 May;17(5):989-95.

3. Eikelboom JW, Lonn E, Genest J Jr, Hankey G, Yusuf S. Homocyst(e)ine and cardiovascular disease: a critical review of the epidemiologic evidence. Ann Intern Med. 1999 Sep 7;131(5):363-75.

4. Beyer K, Lao JI, Latorre P, et al. Methionine synthase polymorphism is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroreport. 2003 Jul 18;14(10):1391-4.

5. Metz J. Cobalamin deficiency and the pathogenesis of nervous system disease. Annu Rev Nutr. 1992;12:59-79.

6. Harty RF, Leibach JR. Immune disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Med Clin North Am. 1985 Jul;69(4):675-704.

7. Irvine WJ. Immunoassay of gastric intrin- sic factor and the titration of antibody to intrinsic factor. Clin Exp Immunol. 1966 Jan;1(1):99-118.

8. Ide H, Fujiya S, Asanuma Y, Tsuji M, Sakai H, Agish Y. Clinical usefulness of intrathecal injection of methylcobalamin in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Clin Ther. 1987;9(2):183-92.

9. Schnyder G, Roffi M, Flammer Y, Pin R, Hess OM. Effect of homocysteine-lower- ing therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary intervention: the Swiss Heart study: a randomized con- trolled trial. JAMA. 2002 Aug 28;288(8):973-9.

10. Shojania AM. How do you diagnose and manage vitamin B12 deficiency? Prairie Med J. 1994;64:141-2.

11. DTI parameters of axonal in... [Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI


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