Dr. Sanjay Agrawal

Leading Pharmaceutical consultant and editor-in chief of IJMToday

Vitamin B12 (named as cobalamin) is considered to be the largest vitamin, involved in the synthesis of red blood cells, neuronal protection and DNA synthesis which are the vital functions of the body. 99% of people in the world are in need of extra vitamin B12.The main aim of this article, is to state the pros and cons of the two forms of B12 that we are concerned with namely Methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin which are available in the market.Types of Vitamins B12 Supplements

  • Cyanocobalamin

  • Methylcobalamin

  • Adenosylcobalamin

  • Hydroxocobalamin

The two most common forms of vitamin B12 supplements you are likely to come across is cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin. Both can be converted into other forms of vitamin B12 when ingested.

Of all the available forms only Cyanocobalamin is being used at the present day. Cyanocobalamin a form of vitamin B12 which is cheap, synthetic, mild toxic and is an inactive form of B12, not absorbed well orally and is converted to Methylcobalamin after 48hrs of entering body where only a small amount is converted. Methylcobalamin is a naturally found in food sources like fish, meat, eggs and milk. It bypasses several phases of absorption cycle and helps reverse symptoms.Cyanocobalamin takes a lot of effort to reduce it to the active form, hence cyanocobalamin absorption varies greatly between individuals. Methylcobalamin is better utilized and is direct active form. It is around 2.5 times more potent about and less amount excreted in the urine than cyanocobalamin so more amount stays in body for long time. It is considered to be safer as no detoxification is required when compared to cyanocobalamin. Only Methylcobalamin is considered to be bit more costly than cyanocobalamin so not being used but has lot more advantages in safety, tolerability and efficacy than cyanocobalamin. 99% of people in the world are in need of extra vitamin B12, and Methylcobalamin would be considered as a better option compared to cyanocobalamin. Plus, Methylcobalamin is donating an extremely valuable methyl group that further enhances our health (and doesn’t steal any, like cyanocobalamin does). This is especially important for pernicious anemia patients or anyone suffering from high homocysteine levels. This donation of methyl groups may be the reason why Methylcobalamin is helpful to multiple conditions.

The most important issue and question is which of the two supplements is better – the artificial form (cyanocobalamin) or naturally occurring form (Methylcobalamin). Studies have shown that cyanocobalamin is known to absorb slightly better within the body while Methylcobalamin is considered to retain better and for longer. Methylcobalamin takes an upper hand providing nutritional value of vitamin B12 to the body.


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