What are B vitamins?
There are 8 different types of B vitamins (collectively known as Vitamin B Complex): B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.
B vitamins play a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being. As the building blocks of a healthy body, B vitamins have a direct impact on your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism.
Vitamin B complex helps prevent infections and helps support or promote:
- cell health
- growth of red blood cells
- energy levels
- good eyesight
- healthy brain function
- good digestion
- healthy appetite
- proper nerve function
- hormones and cholesterol production
- cardiovascular health
- muscle tone
B9 and B12 are often tested as deficiency in these can lead to significant health issues including anaemia.
Symptoms of vitamin B9 and B12 deficiency
The B vitamins in general hold many big jobs in your body and contribute to your overall feelings of wellness. They affect your mood, appetite, sleep, and thinking. You need sufficient B vitamins to fight off infections, turn food into energy, and help your blood carry oxygen to all corners of your body.
Signs of B vitamin deficiency includes:
- Tiredness, weakness and low energy
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
- Skin rashes
- Cracked and sore lips
- Sore, smooth tongue
- Mood changes
- Weakened immune function
- Tingling and pain in hands and feet.
- Pale skin
- Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
- Vision loss
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid or Folate)
Vitamin B9, folic acid and folate are not quite the same thing – but they are often used interchangeably.
- Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that’s mainly present as folate and folic acid. It’s commonly taken in supplement form and even added to processed food in many Western countries.
- Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9.
- Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. Your body does not convert it into active vitamin B9 very well, so unmetabolized folic acid may build up in your bloodstream.
Vitamin B9/folic acid plays a part in:
- Proper brain function. Folic acid plays an important role in mental and emotional health.
- It aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material, and is especially important when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, such as in infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy.
- Folic acid also works closely with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and help iron work properly in the body.
- Vitamin B9 works with vitamins B6 and B12 and other nutrients to control blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with heart disease.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce. It’s found naturally in animal products, but also added to certain foods and available as an oral supplement or injection.
Vitamin B12 has many roles in your body:
- Vitamin B12 is involved in red blood cell formation. When vitamin B12 levels are too low, the production of red blood cells is altered, causing anemia.
- Appropriate vitamin B12 levels are key to a healthy pregnancy. They’re important for the prevention of brain and spinal cord birth defects.
- Vitamin B12 may play a vital role in your bone health. Low blood levels of this vitamin have been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis
- Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12 may help prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration (an eye condition that affects central vision)
- Vitamin B12 is needed for the production of serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Vitamin B12 supplements may help improve mood in people with an existing deficiency.
- Vitamin B12 is involved in energy production in your body. Taking a supplement may improve your energy level.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound that’s created when you’re exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D plays a vital role in your wellbeing:
- It helps your bones absorb calcium which is vital for bone health
- It’s crucial for muscle movement and communication between nerves
- It helps fight inflammation.
If you spend a lot of time indoors, away from natural light, or if your diet is lacking, you can suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms include:
- Frequent illness or infection
- Fatigue and general weakness
- Excessive sweating
- Impaired wound healing
- Bone and back pain
- Bone loss and weakened bones (osteoporosis)
- Muscle pain
- Hair loss
Why should you test your vitamin D levels?
For most of these symptoms, inflammation will be present. So checking your vitamin D levels is not only important for health in general but also to discover if low levels are causing inflammation in your body.
You can test both CRP and vitamin D levels with a home-testing kit. When you have your results in a few days, make an appointment to speak with your doctor where necessary.
Ferritin: iron test
Your body relies on iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to all its cells. Without enough iron, your red blood cells will be unable to supply enough oxygen. However, too much iron isn’t good for your body either (it can lead to organ damage). Both high and low iron levels may indicate a serious underlying problem.
A ferritin test measures the amount of stored iron in your body.
Ferritin isn’t the same thing as iron in your body. Instead, ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when your body needs it. Ferritin usually lives in your body’s cells, with very little actually circulating in your blood. Ferritin is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells. The body will signal the cells to release ferritin. The ferritin then binds to another substance called transferrin to transport it to where new red blood cells are made.
While it’s important for a person to have normal iron levels, having enough stored iron is important too. If a person doesn’t have enough ferritin, iron stores can deplete quickly.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals in your body. Most of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones.
Your body requires calcium to maintain healthy bones and teeth. It’s also essential for keeping your nerves, heart, and muscles functioning properly. Since calcium is so important for many of your body’s functions, its levels need to be within a tight range.
A second calcium blood test, called a corrected calcium test measures the amount of “free” calcium present in your blood. “Free calcium” refers to calcium that’s not bound to any proteins in your blood. This corrected calcium aims to give the true calcium level in your body.
Order a Vitamins & Minerals Full Home Test Kit
Order a Vitamins & Minerals Full Home Test Kit. Get the convenience of home testing with the reassurance of professional clinical analysis. Your results are delivered quickly and securely online.
Our Full Vitamins & Minerals home blood test kit checks several biomarkers including Vitamin D so you can identify vitamin & mineral deficiencies and optimise your nutritional intake. Deficiencies can produce few or vague symptoms so it’s often difficult to identify them without testing and monitoring your progress.
This Vitamins & Minerals Full Test is advised if you:
- are aged over 45;
- are at risk from osteoporosis;
- are currently menopausal, which can lead to deficiencies;
- are currently pregnant;
- are on any restrictive diet (vegans & vegetarian especially);
- have Chrohn’s disease (which can lead to malnutrition);
- have Coeliac disease (which can cause malnutrition);
- suffer from chronic fatigue & tiredness;
- want to understand & improve your general health;
- wish to have a baby;
- want the convenience of home testing without waiting for a GP appointment;
- need a high quality, clinically accredited test done in a professional clinical laboratory.
What’s included in the test kit?
- Gentle fingerprick blood testing kit
- FREE post & packaging
- Results usually within 24 Hours
- Accredited laboratory testing by clinical professionals
- Personalised report with detailed guidance in your online, secure dashboard
- The same accuracy and quality as your GP or hospital
What is tested?
- Calcium (Ca). Nearly all (99%) of your body’s calcium is found in the bones. The rest circulates in your blood in both ‘free’ and ‘bound’ forms. This test measures for the total amount of calcium in your blood and can indicate low (hypocalcaemia) or high (hypercalcaemia) calcium levels.
- Corrected Calcium. Calcium binds to proteins in the blood, especially albumin. So when albumin levels are low, calcium levels will be measured as low, even though the level of unbound calcium in the blood may be normal. A corrected calcium result aims to compensate for the serum albumin level and indicates the true calcium level.
- Ferritin. Ferritin is a blood protein that is high in iron, making it a very good indicator of the overall amount of iron stored in the body. Iron is crucial for the production of healthy red blood cells, and deficiencies may eventually lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Alternatively excessive iron can lead to accumulation and organ damage.
- Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for many bodily functions, such as brain health, blood cell production, and proper nerve function. Vitamin B12 is absorbed through foods such as meat, fish and eggs with several years worth stored in the liver, so deficiencies are uncommon in non-vegans.
- Vitamin B9 (Folate). Vitamin B9 (also known as Folate) is an important B vitamin. It helps utilise amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins, in order to form blood cells, tissue and aid cellular repair. Vitamin B9 must be consumed regularly in the diet – typically from green vegetables and fruits. All pregnant women need increased amounts of folate for proper fetal development.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, mostly produced in the skin by sunlight (up to 90%) although it is also absorbed from food & supplements. Its main role is regulating how the body absorbs calcium, phosphate and magnesium from the gut. Correct levels of these minerals are vital for healthy bone growth.