Vitamin B12 (Active) Folate and Ferritin Blood Test, from our experts to you.
Dr Natasha Fernando MBBS, MRCGP

Medical Director

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What is a
Vitamin B12 (Active) Folate and Ferritin Blood Test?

Our Vitamin B12 (Active) Folate and Ferritin Blood Test measures vitamin B12 and folate levels, which are essential water-soluble vitamins. It also tests your ferritin levels, which are an important measure of iron stores in the body. Together, these tests are helpful in the diagnosis of anaemia. Both vitamin B12 and folic acid are necessary to help break down homocysteine in the body. High levels of homocysteine are thought to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

What is vitamin B12 and
how do I get it in my diet?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that's in virtually all meat products and certain algae, such as seaweed, that helps maintain healthy nerve and red blood cells and is also needed to make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Good sources of vitamin B12 include meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, yeast extract, and some fortified breakfast cereals. As it is found almost exclusively in animal-based products, if you cut out animal products from your diet, you can be at risk of B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms usually develop gradually but can worsen if the condition goes untreated. They include headaches, fatigue, pale skin, and palpitations. Pernicious anaemia (an autoimmune condition) prevents absorption by stopping the production of intrinsic factor and is the leading cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.

What is folate and
how do I get it in my diet?

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that's important to help produce red blood cells and prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida in unborn babies. Small amounts of folate are in many foods. Good sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, and brown rice. Other sources of folate include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread, and some fruit, such as oranges and bananas. Most people should be able to get the required amount of folate by eating a varied and balanced diet with plenty of green leafy vegetables.

What's Included?

Iron status
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Ferritin Ferritin is a protein which stores iron in your cells and tissues. Usually, the body incorporates iron into haemoglobin to be transported around the body, but when it has a surplus, it stores the remaining iron in ferritin for later use. Measuring ferritin levels gives us a good indication of the amount of iron stored in your body.
Folate - serum Folate is a B vitamin which acts as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids. It is also vital for the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines which are essential for DNA synthesis and red cell formation. Folate is also especially important during the first trimester of pregnancy so if you are thinking of becoming pregnant it is important to make sure your folate levels are normal.
Vitamin B12 - active Vitamin B12 is important for production of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. B12 is also involved in metabolism and the nervous system and prolonged lack of vitamin B12 may cause nerve damage. Although Vitamin B12 is almost entirely found in animal-based foods, many vegetarian and vegan products, especially plant milks are now fortified with Vitamin B12.

How to prepare
for your test

Special Instructions

Prepare for your Vitamin B12 (Active) Folate and Ferritin Blood Test by following these instructions. You should take this test before you take any medication or vitamin/mineral supplements. Do not take biotin supplements for two days before this test, discuss this with your doctor if it is prescribed. Do not take vitamin B12 for two weeks prior to this test. If your B12 is prescribed ask your doctor whether to stop.