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A breath of fresh air for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency
Date:6/22/2011

Researchers have developed a new test to detect the levels of vitamin B12 using your breath, allowing for a cheaper, faster, and simpler diagnosis that could help to avoid the potentially fatal symptoms of B12 deficiency.

In a study published today, 23 June 2011, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Breath Research, researchers have developed a simple, non-invasive, low-cost breath test to more accurately measure vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a growing public health problem in which the most common tests using blood serum levels are limited in accuracy and sensitivity and are non-specific for vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system whilst also being essential for the formation of red blood cells; however in low levels it can cause fatigue, clinical depression and memory loss as well as more detrimental and irreversible effects on the brain and nervous system.

Several reports have also linked B12 deficiency to pernicious anaemia and Alzheimer's disease.

Moreover, vitamin B12 deficiency can often be asymptomatic; accentuating the need for a more accurate and reliable test.

The researchers, from the University of Florida at Gainesville and Metabolic Solutions, Inc. of Nashua, NH, acknowledged that vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the breakdown of a common preservative in bakery products, called sodium propionate, into carbon dioxide.

As such, the researchers deemed it possible to administer propionate to subjects, which would be broken down with the aid of vitamin B12 in the body, and then measure the resultant carbon dioxide.

The amount of carbon dioxide exhaled would be proportional to the amount of vitamin B12 present in the subject's body: individuals with a vitamin B12 deficiency would produce smaller amounts of carbon dioxide.

In order to differentiate this carbon dioxide from the normal amounts tha
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Contact: Michael Bishop
michael.bishop@iop.org
01-179-301-032
Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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