The Top 4 Forms of B12 Supplements

Vitamin b12 is a vital nutrient for the human body for multiple reasons. It provides the body with energy, helps in proper red blood cell formation, and protects the nerves, brain cells from damage.

Many problems like fatigue, digestive issues, neurological problems like memory loss, and depression can occur due to the lack of vitamin B12 in the body. Though there is a risk of deficiency of vitamin b12, it can be complemented with different forms of b12 supplements 1that are available along with a well-balanced diet2.

How Much Vitamin b12 To Get?

An individual’s vitamin b12 requirement depends upon their age, eating habits, and medical conditions.

The average recommended intake of vitamin b12, in micrograms(mcg):

  • Infants up to 6 months- 0.4 mcg
  • Babies up to the age of 7 – 12 months- 0.5mcg
  • Children between the age of 1 – 3 years- 0.9mcg
  • Children between the age of 9 – 13 years- 1.8 mcg
  • Teens in the age group 14 to 18 – 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnant women- 2.6 mcg per day
  • Lactating women- 2.8 mcg per day

Where Can You Get Vitamin b12?

Vitamin b12 is a vital nutrient that the body cannot produce independently and can only be got from diet and other supplements. Vitamin b12, in general, is found in animal-based food3.

A list of foods rich in vitamin b12 include:

  • Animal liver and kidneys- The liver and kidneys of the lamb are a vibrant source of vitaminb12. Kidneys of beef and veal are also high in vitamin b12. Apart from that, organ meats of animals also contain many essential nutrients.
  • Clams- Clams are also a high source of antioxidants and vitamin b12. It is to be noted that a 100 gram serving of clams contains about 99mcg of vitaminb12.
  • Fortified cereals- For vegetarians and vegans, cereals are the best source of vitamin b12. It is important to check the food product label to know if vitamin b12 has been added to the food product.

Forms of b12 Supplements

They are mainly four forms of b12 supplements, which include:
• Cyanocobalamin
• Methylcobalamin
• Adenosylcobalamin
• Hydroxocobalamin

1. Cyanocobalamin

Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly found and used form among other forms of b12 supplements found in fortified foods4 and other supplements. It is also considered the most stable form of b12 supplement because of its long shelf life.

Just as the name indicates, Cyanocobalamin contains cyanide in small amounts, which is considered toxically insignificant by the body.

Vitamin B12 Capsule, Cyanocobalamin, Nutrition, Diet.
Source: Depositphotos

When the body ingests cyanocobalamin, it is converted into active forms of the vitamin within the body’s cells; the body then uses a methylation reaction 5to leave the cyanide out of the body and convert it into its usable, absorbable form. Methyl Molecule is used to remove the cyanide out of Cyanocobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the commonly supplemented form as it is commercially used and can be purchased at most drugstores for bargain prices but on the downside. It is also the least safe and least effective among other forms of b12 supplements.

Note: It takes more than 48 hours for Cyanocobalamin to be converted into usable, absorbable methylcobalamin, and even then, only a small amount of it is converted.

To know more about Cyanocobalamin, Click here.

2. Methylcobalamin

One among the other popular, natural, and active forms of b12 supplements is methylcobalamin. This form is mainly used for our brain, liver, and nervous system. It helps to convert homocysteine into methionine, which also helps in protecting the cardiovascular system.

Methylcobalamin skeletal formula
Source: Depositphotos

Research studies have also shown that methylcobalamin has a positive effect on our sleep. This form of b12 could modulate melatonin synthesis, an important hormone in our daily sleep, and wake cycle regulation.

Methylcobalamin is also used to promote and enhance nerve function. In diabetic neuropathy patients, it aids in improving the loss of sensation, numbness, cramps burning sensations, and so much more.

On the downside, Methylcobalamin is considered the least stable because of its short shelf-life; it also converts back to hydroxocobalamin if not stored properly.

A clinical trial was done in Korea in the year 2011 found that 1,500 µg/day of methylcobalamin was required for increasing the vitamin b12 levels, thus reducing any forms of deficiencies caused by the lack of vitamin b12. This trial was done in particular on people who had gastrectomy.

It is also to be noted that compared to Cyanocobalamin, Methylcobalamin is better utilized and is around 2.5 times more potent than Cyanocobalamin. Comparatively, Methylcobalamin also has a higher bioavailability than Cyanocobalamin and also more efficient in its use.

To know more about methylcobalamin and its uses, Click here

3. Adenosylcobalamin

Adenosylcobalamin is considered an active form of b12 supplements; this form contains enzymes that the body can immediately use, easily absorbable.

Adenosylcobalamin is one of the key factors essential for the body to create cellular energy. The body could experience DNA and RNA damage leading to fatigue and various other problems.

On another note, it is advisable to use Adenosylcobalamin along with Methylcobalamin.

Proven Vitamin B12 Benefits, Different Types of B12, and Genes Linked to B12 Deficiency

The National Institute of Health suggests that a combination of Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin is the most absorbable and available among the other forms of b12 supplements. Adenosylcobalamin isn’t available through injections and can be consumed in the form of adenosyl b12 tablets.

To know more about Adenosylcobalamin and its uses, click here.

4. Hydroxocobalamin

Hydroxocobalamin is different compared to other forms of b12 supplements since it is not produced by the body and is majorly produced by the bacteria naturally.

Hydroxocobalamin is then converted into Methylcobalamin and can be found in animal-based foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and milk products.

Hydroxocobalamin is an inactive form of b12 and does not contain any cyanide. It is highly recommended to people with cyanide toxicity. It is also important to note down the levels of nitric oxide while administrating Hydroxocobalamin.

To know more about Adenosylcobalamin and its uses, click here.

The different forms of b12 supplements will help anyone suffering from vitamin b12 deficiency and help the body function effectively. However, it is also important to eat the right diet and supplements for the body’s efficient functioning and well-being.

To read more about the different forms of b12 supplements, Click here.


VITAMIN B12 | Deficiency, Supplements, Foods and Daily Recommendation

Read more health-related articles at:

  1. Paul, Cristiana, and David M. Brady. “Comparative bioavailability and utilization of particular forms of B12 supplements with potential to mitigate B12-related genetic polymorphisms.” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 16.1 (2017): 42. ↩︎
  2. Miller, Jennifer L., et al. “A reduced‐energy intake, well‐balanced diet improves weight control in children with Prader‐Willi syndrome.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 26.1 (2013): 2-9. ↩︎
  3. Xu, Xiaoming, et al. “Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods.” Nature Food 2.9 (2021): 724-732. ↩︎
  4. Martınez-Navarrete, N., et al. “Iron deficiency and iron fortified foods—a review.” Food Research International 35.2-3 (2002): 225-231. ↩︎
  5. Szyf, Moshe. “Mind-body interrelationship in DNA methylation.” Allergy and the Nervous System. Vol. 98. Karger Publishers, 2012. 85-99. ↩︎

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Jenita T.J

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