The lack of vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia can be ascertained by the general practitioner on the basis of blood tests and the clinical manifestations (symptoms) reported by the person. In particular, the doctor suspects the deficiency if the results of the analyzes show:
- hemoglobin level below normal
- red blood cells larger than normal
- reduction in the level of vitamin B12 in the blood
- reduction in the level of folate in the blood
The treating physician may ask for further tests to identify the causes of the deficiency, so that the most appropriate treatment can be chosen.
It is good to remember that blood tests must be done early in the morning on an empty stomach.
In some cases, which require further tests, the general practitioner may find it useful to consult a specialist. In particular:
- hematologist (specialist in blood diseases), in case of uncertainty as to the cause of a vitamin B12 deficiency; in the case of a pregnant woman; in case the symptoms suggest that the person's nervous system has been damaged
- gastroenterologist (digestive system specialist), if he suspects that the lack of vitamin B12 is due to malabsorption by the digestive system
- dietician or nutritionist (nutrition specialist), if he suspects that the lack of vitamin B12 is due to a poor diet; in this case the professional can suggest a personalized nutrition plan to increase the amount of vitamin B12 or folate in the diet
It should be remembered that the test results indicate vitamin B12 deficiency but do not provide information on the severity of the anemia or neuropathy associated with the deficiency.
NHS. Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia (English)