What is a vitamin B9 test, how to test it & what does it show?
Vitamin B9 is commonly known as folate or folic acid, and plays an important role in the formation of DNA, as well as maintaining healthy blood cells and nerves. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause the body to make abnormally large and malfunctioning red blood cells (megaloblastic anaemia). This can happen after a few weeks of folate deficiency, and can result in tiredness and weakness.
What is a vitamin B9 test?
A vitamin B9 test consists of a blood test that helps identify whether you have a folate deficiency. This is achieved by measuring the level of folate in the blood.
A vitamin B9 test involves drawing a small sample of blood from a person’s inner arm with a needle and analysing the blood in a laboratory. The process of taking the blood is commonly done a nurse or phlebotomist, and is quick and usually causes only minor discomfort for a short period of time. A blood sample can also be taken with a simple finger prick, which is generally an option taken by those who would prefer to take their own sample from the comfort of their own home.
What does a vitamin B9 test show?
A vitamin B9 test measures the level of vitamin B9 in the blood, which is then compared against a typical ‘normal’ range of vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 deficiency refers to a level of vitamin B9 that is lower than the ‘normal’ recommended range. A deficiency in vitamin B9 can occur because of a poor diet not containing enough of this vitamin. A deficiency can also be caused by a condition affecting the body’s ability to absorb and/or process vitamin B9, such as Coeliac or Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately, vitamin B9 deficiency can remain undetected for years and cause damage before it is diagnosed.
The symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency are varied and may develop slowly and gradually over time. However, it is important to note that many people who have a vitamin B9 deficiency do not experience symptoms and the deficiency is detected through testing for it. Vitamin B9 deficiency can affect people of all ages, although it is more commonly seen in older people. Symptoms of vitamin B9 deficiency include:
- Pins and needles
- Muscle weakness
- Mouth ulcers
- Memory problems
How can I check my vitamin B9 at home?
At Bluecrest, we offer a vitamin B9 home test kit, which is a low-cost option allowing measurement of your folate levels from the comfort of your own home.
All of our Home Test Kits include:
- A sample blood collection kit sent straight to your door
- Results within 8 days of full UKAS accredited laboratory analysis
- Access to your results through your own secure online MyWellness account
- 24/7 GP Helpline access
What is the normal vitamin B9 level?
The normal level of vitamin B9 varies between laboratories but as a guide it is above around 4.5μg/L. Levels that are lower than this need to be discussed with your GP and additional tests may be needed to establish the cause. Treating someone for vitamin B9 deficiency, without treating a vitamin B12 deficiency they also have, can cause neurological damage. Therefore, it is essential that you do not try to diagnose the cause of any vitamin B9 deficiency yourself or try to treat it.
Most people can get all the vitamin B they need from a health balanced diet. Many foods contain small amounts of folate including:
- Brussel sprouts
- Leafy greens
- Chickpeas, peas and kidney beans
- Liver (to be avoided during pregnancy)
You can also opt for foods fortified in folic acids, such as some breakfast cereals. You can find out what foods are fortified in folic acids by reading food labels.
What is a good vitamin B9 test result?
The normal level of vitamin B9 varies between laboratories but as a guide it is above around 4.5μg/L. Levels that are lower than this may indicate a deficiency, and your GP may need to undertake additional tests to assess whether this is the case.
Treating someone for vitamin B9 deficiency, without treating a vitamin B12 deficiency they also have, can cause neurological damage. Therefore, it is essential that you do not try to diagnose the cause of any vitamin B9 deficiency yourself or try to treat it.
How long does a vitamin B9 test take?
A vitamin B9 test usually takes less than 5 minutes, as it consists of a simple blood test requiring a small blood sample. There is no specific preparation required, and the person being tested can continue to eat and drink as normal prior to getting tested.
Can low vitamin B9 levels be dangerous?
Vitamin B9 deficiency can cause severe complications including:
- Megaloblastic anaemia, which causes your body to make abnormally large red blood cells that cannot function correctly. This leads to a lack of oxygen being circulated through the body.
- Nerve damage, which can cause pins and needles, burning, tingling, or peripheral neuropathy
- Increased risk of heart disease.
- Neural Tube Defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, can develop in babies of women who are deficient in vitamin B9 while pregnant.
How can I get a vitamin B9 test?
Bluecrest offers vitamin B9 tests both in the form of home test kits and clinics appointments with a Health Assessment Specialist:
At a clinic
You can book a health check with one of our Certified Healthcare professionals at one of over 2,000 mobile clinics nationwide. Our Nutritional Therapy plan includes a vitamin B9 test, in addition to a wide array of health markers for a detailed view of your health.
Alternatively, you can get a vitamin B9 test from the comfort of your own home with one of our vitamin B9 home test kits. All you need to do is order your kit, take your own sample, send it back in our pre-addressed return envelope, and wait to receive your results online within 8 days.