Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin: Comparing the Two Types

When it comes to vitamin B12 supplements, there are two main types to choose from: methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Both forms of vitamin B12 are effective in raising B12 levels in the body, but they differ in some key ways. In this article, we will compare and contrast the two types of vitamin B12 to help you make an informed decision about which form is best for your individual needs. Whether you are a vegan looking for a reliable source of vitamin B12 or someone with a B12 deficiency, understanding the differences between cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin can help you choose the best option for your health. 

What is Vitamin B12?

food sources of vitamin b12 such as meat and fish

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of the central nervous system. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is water-soluble and is not naturally produced by the body, so it must be obtained from dietary sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. This vitamin is important for DNA synthesis, energy production, and neurological functions. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and neurological problems. It is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans to ensure they are getting enough vitamin B12 through fortified foods or supplements since it is predominantly found in animal-derived products.

B12 as Methylcobalamin 

Methylcobalamin is a form of vitamin B12 that contains a methyl group, which makes it the active form of the vitamin. This means that it does not need to be converted by the body before it can be used, making it the most bioavailable form of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin is known for its high absorption rate, which makes it an excellent choice for those with conditions that affect their ability to absorb nutrients, such as pernicious anemia or digestive disorders. Some of the benefits of methylcobalamin include its role in supporting nerve function, promoting healthy red blood cell production, and aiding in the synthesis of DNA. Overall, choosing the methylcobalamin form can contribute to better overall health and well-being.

B12 as Cyanocobalamin

Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 that contains a cyanide molecule. This form of B12 is commonly used in supplements and fortified foods. Despite containing a cyanide molecule, cyanocobalamin is considered a safe and effective way to supplement vitamin B12. It is often prescribed to individuals with B12 deficiencies as it can be an affordable option and generally is absorbed well. Cyanocobalamin plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, and it also aids in the formation of DNA. Additionally, this form is known for its ability to boost energy levels and improve cognitive function. Overall, cyanocobalamin provides numerous benefits for those looking to increase their B12 intake and support their overall health.

Differences Between Methylcobalamin and Cyanocobalamin

woman holding supplements in one hand and a glass of water in the other

Methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin are two different forms of vitamin B12. The main difference between the two lies in their chemical structure and bioavailability. Methylcobalamin is the active, natural form that is readily absorbed and utilized by the body. It is often preferred by individuals who have difficulty converting cyanocobalamin into its active form. On the other hand, cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form, which contains a cyanide molecule. This type of B12 needs to be converted into methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin in order to be used by the body. Some people may prefer cyanocobalamin due to its longer shelf life and lower cost, but it is also less readily absorbed and may not be as effective for individuals with certain health conditions. Ultimately, the choice between methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin depends on individual needs and preferences.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you have been diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency, your healthcare provider may recommend taking vitamin B12 supplements to help increase your levels. This can be done through either oral supplements or B12 injections, depending on the severity of the deficiency. B12 injections are often used for individuals with more severe deficiencies or those who have trouble absorbing the vitamin through their digestive system. It is important to work with your healthcare provider to identify the underlying cause of your B12 deficiency and to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Common symptoms of a B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty walking, and cognitive difficulties. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if a B12 deficiency may be the cause.

Bottom Line: Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin

When it comes to the debate between cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin for supplementation, the bottom line is that methylcobalamin is generally considered to be the superior form of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin is the biologically active form of B12 that is readily absorbed and utilized by the body, making it a more effective choice for supplementation. On the other hand, cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of B12 that requires the body to convert it into methylcobalamin before it can be used, which may not be as efficient for some individuals. Additionally, cyanocobalamin contains a small amount of cyanide, albeit in a form that is considered safe for consumption. Ultimately, while both forms of B12 can effectively raise levels in the body, methylcobalamin is generally preferred for its bioavailability and potential health benefits. 

Suggested Products