4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  



Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of red blood cells, as well as for the proper functioning and health of nerve tissue. If left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as B12 deficiency, can lead to anemia, as well as nerve and brain damage.

The vitamin B12 test measures the amount of vitamin B12 circulating in the blood at the time of the test. Low levels of vitamin B12 can indicate a deficiency, however further tests would need to be conducted to determine the level of deficiency.


Vitamin B12 results were obtained for persons aged 12 years and over, who participated in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and provided a blood sample. Fasting was not required for this test.


A blood sample was collected from participants and vitamin B12 levels were measured at the Douglass Hanly Moir (DHM) laboratory.

There is no consensus on the epidemiological cut off reference values for measuring serum vitamin B12 in the blood. As such, no cut off points have been defined in the NHMS.

Further information about the analysis method and machines used to measure vitamin B12 levels is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of this product.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:

  • Vitamin B12 results do not confirm a specific diagnosis without consultation with a health professional.
  • There are a number of different test methods to measure vitamin B12 levels and each test method may produce different results. The data from this topic should therefore be used with caution when comparing vitamin B12 results from other studies using a different test method.

Comparability with other surveys

The NHMS is the first ABS survey to collect biomedical data on vitamin B12 levels.

Vitamin B12 data has been collected in other non-ABS surveys. However, caution must be taken when interpreting results due to the differences in scope, assay and the instrument used, and any thresholds applied in the final analysis.


1 Gibson RS 2005, Principles of Nutritional Assessment, 2nd ed, New York: Oxford University Press.
2 Heil W and V Ehrhardt 2008, Reference Ranges for Adults and Children: Pre-Analytical Considerations, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, Mannheim, <https://www.rochediagnostics.fr/Htdocs/media/pdf/actualites/2a_Reference_Ranges_2008.pdf>, Last accessed 07/11/2013.

Previous PageNext Page