Narrator: This is Science Today. About one million Americans over the age of 65 have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 and the reason may be due to pernicious anemia, a degenerative disease marked by an inability to absorb B12. But making an actual diagnosis can be tricky and if left undiagnosed, it puts patients at risk for developing debilitating fatigue and neurological problems. Now, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a better, safer test for pernicious anemia.
Buchholz: The gold standard for looking for B12 absorption problems is called the Schilling's test and it used radioactive Cobalt 57, which was quite a bit of radioactivity.
Narrator: Instead, Lab chemist Bruce Buchholz says their faster technique uses a specific type of carbon that involves a very low radiation exposure that's equivalent to that received on a cross-country airplane flight. And rather than the large shots used in the old test, this new one uses a finger prick technique similar to home blood sugar tests for diabetes. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin .