Have you been told that the best way to take B12 is with a methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin supplement? In this article we explain what science says about it.
Vitamin B12 (or cobalamin) plays key roles in our body through processes that require intense cell replication, such as the formation of new red blood cells. It also participates in the formation of the so-called myelin sheath, which covers nerve cells and is essential in the transmission of nerve impulses1.
Methylcobalamin is one of the active forms of vitamin B12 and it has been proposed that ingesting B12 supplements in this chemical form is advantageous. This idea is based on the assumption that, being an active form, ingested methylcobalamin could act directly, without needing to be processed in our organism.
However, scientific studies (1,2,3) carried out on this subject reveal that all the forms of vitamin B12 that we ingest follow the same process of chemical transformations in our organism. This process reduces any form of vitamin B12 to cobalamin, which is then converted to the active forms of vitamin B12, such as methylcobalamin. Furthermore, current evidence indicates that all forms of vitamin B12 are absorbed in the intestine with similar efficiency (3). Therefore, in light of this information, there is no reason to justify the preference of methylcobalamin over cyanocobalamin as oral supplements (1,2,4).
Substance stability, an important issue
To this must be added issues related to the stability of the substance, its safety of use and the level of knowledge that exists about long-term supplementation: there is insufficient information to determine the safest and most effective doses of methylcoabalamin (1,4) In contrast, cyanocobalamin is the most studied form of B12 and it has been concluded that it is a very safe substance even at high doses (5). In addition, cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 that is most stable to heat, light and pH (1,4,6).
In conclusion, Answering the question methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin is a secondary choice for oral B12 supplementation due to its lower stability. and the scarcity of scientific information on its long-term safety; moreover, although it is an active form of B12, it follows the same processes of chemical transformations in the body as any other form of vitamin B12, thus nullifying its supposed superiority. Cyanocobalamin, however, is the most stable form, the most studied and safe in the long term even at high doses, and is absorbed and processed in our body as efficiently as other forms of B12. Therefore, cyanocobalamin becomes the preferred choice as an oral vitamin B12 supplement.
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By Evidentia vegetalis
- Rizzo G, Laganà AS, Rapisarda AM, La Ferrera GM, Buscema M, Rossetti P, Nigro A, Muscia V, Valenti G, Sapia F, Sarpietro G, Zigarelli M, Vitale SG. Vitamin B12 among Vegetarians: Status, Assessment and Supplementation. Nutrients. 2016 Nov 29;8(12). pii: E767.
- Rima Obeid, Sergey N. Fedosov, Ebba Nexo. Cobalamin coenzyme forms are not likely to be superior to cyano- and hydroxyl-cobalamin in prevention or treatment of deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Jul;59(7):1364-72. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500019.
- Paul C, Brady DM. Comparative Bioavailability and Utilization of Particular Forms of B12 Supplements With Potential to Mitigate B12-related Genetic Polymorphisms.Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017 Feb;16(1):42-49.
- Norris J, Vegan health: httpss://veganhealth.org/vitamin-b12/. Accessed on 24 January 2019.
- EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for cobalamin (vitamin B12). EFSA Journal 2015; 13 (7):4150.
- Jägerstad, K. Arkbåge, cobalamins: properties and determination, Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), Academic Press, 2003, Pages 1419-1427, ISBN 9780122270550, httpss://doi.org/10.1016/B0-12-227055-X/00257-1. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B012227055X002571)