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Vitamin B12 - Cyanocobalamin Versus Methylcobalamin

Wednesday May 3, 2017 at 2:32pm
Cyanocobalamin V Methylcobalamin

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body, and is needed to protect DNA and RNA, support energy, protect nerve and brain cells, stimulate serotonin production, contribute to red blood cell formation, support immune function, and maintain a positive mood.

There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you’re likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12 and is chemically synthesised. Methylcobalamin is found in animal-based foods and is therefore obviously naturally occuring.

Methylcobalamin is rapidly gaining popularity over cyanocobalamin and in all likelihood methylcobalamin will ultimately dominate the industry.

What's the difference between methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin?

Methylcobalamin has a methyl group (just carbon and hydrogen) while cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide molecule. Although the amount of cyanide in a normal B12 supplement is too small to be harmful, your body will still need to remove and eliminate this compound. As it has no use for the cyano-compound itself, it will set about converting any cyanocobalamin you take into methylcobalamin as soon as possible - it’s the methyl-compound that the human body needs to function properly.

What makes methylcobalamin a superior health supplement?

Methylcobalamin the most bio-available form of Vitamin B12, i.e. it is the most readily absorbed. Further to this research has shown that it remains in the body for a longer period of time and at higher levels than cyanocobalamin, which means that your body is supplied with vitamin B12 for longer if you use methylcobalamin than if you use cyanocobalamin.

Methylcobalamin is used primarily in your liver, brain and nervous system, in fact methylcobalamin is the specific form of B12 needed for nervous system health.

Because of methylcobalamin's importance in nervous system health, it is also an important nutrient for vision. Research has shown that methylcobalamin significantly improves visual accommodation, while cyanocobalamin appears to be ineffective. Visual accommodation is the ability to quickly shift your focus from something nearby to something further away - this is often impaired by activities such as staring at a computer screen for long periods of time. 

The most well studied use of methylcobalamin has to do with sleep - although the exact mechanism of action is not yet clear, it is possible that methylcobalamin is needed for the synthesis of melatonin. Research indicates that methylcobalamin can modulate melatonin secretion, enhance light-sensitivity, and normalise circadian rhythm (your body's 24-hour clock). Because of this, individuals supplementing this form of B12 often report improved quality of sleep, often will require slightly less sleep, and will not uncommonly report that they feel a bit more refreshed when waking in the morning.

One of the primary reactions of methylcobalamin in the body is to convert homocysteine to methionine - high homocysteine levels are undesirable and known to be an indicator of heart disease and stroke risk due to the fact free homocysteine in the blood causes sclerosis of the arteries, putting strain on the vascular system and the heart.

The conversion of homocysteine to methionine reduces the potential for damage because the reaction results in the formation of the super-antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is the body's master detoxifier and the body's main antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage.

* Please note that cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 most used in supplements because it’s the cheapest and while we've presented methylcobalamin as the superior form both are excellent at providing nutritionally valuable quantities of Vitamin B12 to the body.

Recommended intake

Vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal products such as organ meats, oily fish, beef and dairy products. If you do not consume those food groups then you are at risk of deficiency - a Vitamin B12 supplement is therefore recommended for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those who suffer from bowel disorders where absorption may be a problem.

The daily recommended intake for Vitamin B12 is 1.5mcg - 2.0mcg/day. However B12 supplements can contain as much as 1000mcg without toxic effect.

Buy Vitamin B12 Supplements

Just Vitamins sells both Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 tablets and Cyanocobalamin B12 tablets which are in optimal sublingual form (put under the tongue).
All orders are eligible for free standard UK Delivery.

12 Comments

Thursday September 14, 2017 at 3:08am by Kiranjeet Singh
Information on this webpage is very good and organized. I have no prior knowledge on this topic so feeling good to go to other pages also.
Sunday October 22, 2017 at 12:32pm by Charles Duong
Good information. Provided some detailed information with regards to common beliefs that are floating on the internet. Cyanocobalamin containing cyanide molecule and methylcobalamin being the more bio available of the two. Cyanocobalamin is commonly found in multivitamins, due to its cheap cost. When shopping for supplments that cointain B-12, when I see companies put methylcobalamin instead of cyano, indicates to me they are higher quality and looking out for the end consumer.
Replied to on: Tuesday October 24, 2017 at 5:14pm
Thanks very much for the vote of confidence!
Tuesday November 7, 2017 at 4:00pm by Rena
This is at thorough yet concise bit on forms of vitamin B supplements. It gives specific, verifiable information without wild claims or inferences and answered my main questions about how to use this vitamin and why. Thanks for posting this article!
Replied to on: Wednesday November 8, 2017 at 10:16am
Thank you, we are very glad that the article has been of use and interest to you.
Wednesday November 8, 2017 at 9:41am by Dr Shemesh Zecharya
I think that the information in the brief article is very important. There are patients who have high blood levels of vit, B12, but most of it is Cyanocobalamine. It means that they have Vit B12 deficience, and need Methycobalamine.
Replied to on: Wednesday November 8, 2017 at 10:17am
Thank you, we are very glad that the article has been of interest and benefit to you.
Sunday November 19, 2017 at 3:05pm by cheryl ziervogel
I am so confused as to why Solgar, a great multivitamin company known to have excellent track record in quality nutritional supplements should use cyanocobalamin in their products :(Thanks for a great explanation.Cheryl
Friday January 26, 2018 at 2:18pm by Stephanie
Thank you for the coverage of b12. I have the visual accommodation issue as well as some hair loss. I never knew the lack of b12 was responsible for the visual issue. It gives me another way to recognize when I am low in my b12.
Replied to on: Friday January 26, 2018 at 7:33pm
Thank you - it’s great to hear that our Health Articles are informative and helpful.
Saturday February 3, 2018 at 1:48pm by Chrissy
Thank you for the information, I was diagnosed with b12 anaemia and NO intrinsic factor some years ago. I was constantly very tired, passing out, vomiting, headaches, couldn't do very much, My doctor did blood. test and found I had no intrinsic factor, and I had used all virtually all my store of natural b12. I was told it was starting to effect my vital organs, and I was lucky it was detected as I had about 6 months. With no intrinsic factor I am unable to convert any b12 naturally from food, dairy products. I was told I had to have regular injections, but I an a needle phobic, I am terrified. I did some research in line and found that in America people took b12 in tablet form, I consulted with my doctor but he said my body would not absorb tablets, but I could try, I went on 8x50mcg tables per day, with 1 iron & 1 folic acid suppliment and after 7 days I could have jumped a house. The blood test gave better b12 readings, 1 month after b12 reading up. still felt good. 7 years on, I am on only 3x50mcg per day with the iron and folic acid, and although I still have no intrinsic factor and appearently will never return, I am able to lead a normal life. Thank you for the research and effort you do.
Tuesday February 6, 2018 at 3:20pm by teodora
hello, I am a vegetarian and I would like to know if taking Methylcobalamin B-12 5000 mcg (Sublingual) once per week is enough to supplement the lack in this vitamin. I do eat dairy products as well but not too often. Thank you
Replied to on: Tuesday February 6, 2018 at 3:30pm
Hi Teodora

The daily recommended intake for Vitamin B12 is 1.5mcg - 2.0mcg/day. However B12 supplements can contain as much as 1000mcg without toxic effect. It should certainly be enough to supplement your diet, but is would be considered as too much in one dose.

5000mcg in one go is a lot and may have toxic effects, we would recommend that you consider reducing this intake and taking a lower strength supplement of 1000mcg or less once per day instead of once per week.

You should always consult your doctor if you wish to have guidance on your diet and overall health.

Just Vitamins
Friday February 23, 2018 at 5:15pm by Theresa
How is Methylcobalamin B-12 made? Is it vegan, or is it made from animals?
Replied to on: Thursday March 1, 2018 at 10:11am
Hi Theresa

Methylcobalamin B12 is normally made in a laboratory. Our version of Methylcobalamin is indeed Vegan and can be purchased here: https://www.justvitamins.co.uk/Methylcobalamin-Vitamin-B12.aspx

Just Vitamins
Tuesday March 6, 2018 at 3:17am by Birthouskhan
Hiwhich one is better A multi vitamin tablet which contains 1)1500mcg of methylcobalamin or 2)15mcg cyanocobalamin?All of the other things were same in both category. Please reply me.Thanks in advance.
Replied to on: Tuesday March 6, 2018 at 9:39am
Hi Birthouskhan

Methylcobalamin is superior to Cyanocobalamin so if you were to compare the same dosage i.e. 1000mcg of Methylcobalamin vs 1000mcg of Cyanocobalamin then Methylcobalamin would be preferable.

I hope that helps

Just Vitamins


Wednesday May 23, 2018 at 3:32pm by Olmos
Simple and useful explanation. Thanks!
Saturday October 6, 2018 at 11:41pm by becky mills
super helpful and learned a lot too
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