A new study conducted at the University Of Florida, Gainesville And Metabolic Solutions, Inc., has developed a non-invasive breath test to detect vitamin B12 levels in the body. The test has been specifically designed to detect vitamin B12 deficiency. Researchers have initially tested this procedure on a sample of people including those suffering from chronic pancreatitis, Crohn’s Disease and also people aged over 65. This sample was specifically chosen because vitamin B12 deficiency afflicts them more.
For the test, researchers administered propionate to the sample after they had fasted for a period of 8 hours and had also abstained from smoking. The propionate is broken down by the vitamin B12 present in the human body and its breakdown can be measured by the amount of carbon dioxide that is exhaled. However, in order to keep the test as conclusive as possible, the researchers also included a stable carbon isotope with the propionate. The isotope would be then exhaled by the sample’s body as labelled carbon dioxide. This way the exact amount of carbon dioxide exhaled due to the breakdown of propionate could be measured.
Every person part of the sample study was administered 50 mg of propionate. Their breath was tested every 10 minutes for the first hour. The frequency of the test was reduced to 15 minute intervals for the second hour. The result showed that people with a vitamin B12 deficiency exhaled lesser amounts of carbon dioxide compared to people with normal levels of vitamin B12.
In order to prove the efficiency of the breath test for vitamin B12 deficiency, researchers also compared their findings with the current blood serum test used to determine the level of the vitamin in the body. The test is also being hailed by them as the most conclusive, non-invasive test to determine vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is slowly catapulting into a major health concern for most. Vitamin B12 is necessary for maintaining brain health and also the efficiency of the nervous system. Its deficiency can lead to severe brain and nervous system related disorders and some researchers have also found that vitamin B12 deficiency can trigger pernicious anaemia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other than that, this vitamin is also essential for the development of red blood cells.
The study on the breath test to determine vitamin B12 deficiency still requires further research and a larger sample testing before it hits the market. It is being touted that if all goes well and the test is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, then the test will be available for use in the next 3 to 5 years.
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