This test is used to diagnose megaloblastic anemia and disorders related to abnormal quantities of methylmalonic acid.
Elevated levels of methylmalonic acid provide an early indication of cobalamin (B12) deficiency.
People with vitamin B-12 deficiency almost always have elevated levels of methylmalonic acid. Hence, a positive test could suggest vitamin B12 deficiency. But to accurately confirm the condition, other tests are also necessary, such as the homocysteine test.
Vitamin -B12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia, oral ulcers, and peripheral neuropathy. Therefore, treating this deficit early can prevent the development of the said conditions.
Anemia work-up, those suspected vitamin B 12/folate deficiency.
No special preparation is necessary before the blood sample collection.
Estimated Turn Around for Results:
2-10 Business Days
For an exact turnaround time for results, please contact us at 1-888-438-5227, and we will contact the lab on your behalf as turnaround times vary depending on testing location or lab testing provider.
What Is Methylmalonic Acid?
Methylmalonic acid (MMA) is a vital substance involved in energy production and metabolism. Although it is produced in small amounts, this metabolite is crucial in breaking down proteins and fats. Thus, in the laboratory, MMA is used as one of the markers for vitamin B12 deficiency.
When MMA reacts with vitamin B 12 or folate, it produces Coenzyme A (CoA), a helper molecule that helps activate enzymes for biosynthesis and energy generation. The level of MMA in the blood and urine will increase if vitamin B is inadequate in the body.
How Is the Methylmalonic Acid Blood Test Performed?
A medical technician performs the methylmalonic acid test. Hence, it does not come as an at-home kit.
The blood sample required is extracted from the vein located in the back of the hand or near the elbow. A needle is inserted once the vein is located, and the blood is collected in a syringe or vial.
You may feel a throbbing sensation in your arm and a slight sting due to the needle injection. But this minor pain is temporary and can fade quickly. You might also feel a little lightheaded during the sample collection.
When to Order A Methylmalonic Acid Blood Test?
A methylmalonic acid blood test is not commonly included in the annual physical exam. However, your healthcare provider will order the test if you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, megaloblastic anemia, and other related diseases.
However, if symptoms are not present, your doctor may still request the MMA test if you belong to the following groups:
- Vegans and vegetarians
- Pregnant women
- People with obesity
- People with digestive disorders
- Patients with AIDS/HIV infection
Test Results Meaning
The parameters for a methylmalonic acid test may vary from one laboratory to another. Nevertheless, the results will indicate any abnormal levels.
What Do High Methylmalonic Acid Test Results Mean?
An increased amount of methylmalonic acid indicates an early sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.
The short interaction between vitamin B12 and methylmalonic acid elevates the latter not just in the blood but even in the urine. Hence, apart from a blood test, methylmalonic acid can be measured through a urine test.
What Do Low Methylmalonic Acid Test Results Mean?
It is unlikely to have low methylmalonic acid. But if the result shows this calculation, it’s not exactly alarming as it does not pose any medical problems.
Other Tests Related to Methylmalonic Acid Test
The methylmalonic acid test is often paired with a homocysteine test to confirm early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. Homocysteine is an amino acid synthesized when proteins break. High levels of homocysteine indicate inadequate levels of vitamin B12 in the body.
What Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is due to insufficient diet or some medical conditions. Vegans and vegetarians are often at risk for this condition since they don’t consume meat and animal products which are common sources of vitamin B12.
Some disorders also lead to inadequate absorption of vitamin B12, such as pernicious anemia, immune system disorders, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and other illnesses concerning the intestines.
Methylmalonic acidemia is an inherited condition wherein the body fails to process some proteins and fats properly.
Children are diagnosed with this disorder before and after they turn one. Newborns are also screened for the disorder as the condition can become life-threatening even before symptoms show up. Hence, doctors will order the methylmalonic acid test.
Megaloblastic anemia is characterized by abnormally large red blood cells that gradually decrease in quantity. It is developed due to vitamin B12 deficiency or malabsorption of the said micronutrient.
A type of megaloblastic anemia known as pernicious anemia develops due to problems with stomach secretions which lead to the inability to absorb vitamin B12. If this disorder is ignored or left untreated, it could have adverse and even fatal effects.