Best OTC Prenatal Vitamins

If you’re looking for the best OTC prenatal vitamins, you’ve come to the right place! If you want to see all our recommendations, scroll to the bottom of the page. Or if you just want the short answer, these are the prenatal vitamins we recommend!

Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, but the best OTC prenatal vitamins (OTC=over the counter) do the job brilliantly and are far cheaper. Often the only difference is lower amounts of folic acid and iron, but that can easily be fixed with a couple of extra cheap supplements. Your local pharmacy should have everything you need.

But many women wonder whether they even need prenatal vitamins. It’s true that a healthy balanced diet should provide all the nutrients most people need, perhaps with a standard multivitamin thrown into the mix. But pregnant women have greater nutritional needs than anyone else, and simply eating your greens and avoiding processed foods isn’t going to cut it when you’re eating for two. And it’s even harder if you’re vegetarian or vegan.

The Most Important Prenatal Vitamins

Best OTC Prenatal VitaminsThe best OTC prenatal vitamins will contain folic acid, iron, iodine, calcium and vitamin D. There will probably be lots of other ingredients too, but those are the really vital ones, so check for them before buying. Other nutrients to look out for include omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, copper and vitamins A, C and E.

Vitamin B12 (ideally as methylcobalamin not cyanocobalamin) is often recommended too, as it pairs well with folic acid (see here) and is very important in its own right.

Folic acid is the most talked about prenatal vitamin. Low levels of folate/folic acid are known to cause neural tube defects in babies i.e. birth defects of the brain and/or spinal cord such as spina bifida. The importance of folic acid as a prenatal vitamin cannot be overstated. If you want the best OTC prenatal vitamins, aim to find one that includes 400-800mcg of folic acid (and possibly more if there is a history of neural tube defects in your family – speak to your doctor about this).

Healthy newborn babyLow birth weight, premature birth and fetal anemia are all linked to low levels of iron in the mother’s blood. Anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, but iron is essential for a baby’s growth and development. You should try to ingest around 30mg of iron per day.

Without iodine, your body can’t synthesize thyroidal hormones. In pregnant women, this can lead to congenital hypothyroidism, brain defects and even miscarriages and stillbirth.

Calcium and vitamin D work very well together. Calcium is needed to support bone growth and to build a healthy skeleton, making calcium especially important during the third trimester. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, so both nutrients are useless without each other.

Note that you won’t be able to get enough calcium from a multivitamin alone. You’ll also need to eat dairy products and/or other calcium-rich foods like kale, watercress and broccoli. A dedicated calcium supplement is also an option.

When to Take a Prenatal Vitamin

In an ideal world, every pregnancy would be planned and wanted. But we realise that’s not always the case. If you are trying for a baby, then make sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin now, even before you conceive!

Prenatal Vitamins for Pregnant WomenA baby’s neural tube (which later becomes its spinal cord and brain) develops during the very first month of pregnancy, before you even know a baby bump is on its way. This means that you should always take a prenatal vitamin if you’re hoping to get pregnant, with the folic acid component being particularly important.

As many pregnancies aren’t planned, there’s a strong argument to take prenatal vitamins (or at least a folic acid supplement) throughout your sexually active, pre-menopausal adult life.

You should keep taking your prenatal vitamins at least until your baby is born. Many women keep up their multivitamin regime after giving birth, which is generally recommended for mothers who intend to breastfeed their newborn.

Prenatal Vitamin Side Effects

Even the best OTC prenatal vitamins can cause side effects. This is also true of prescription supplements and will vary from person to person. Some lucky women won’t experience any side effects at all, while others will be less fortunate.

Prenatal Vitamins Side EffectsThe most common complaint when taking prenatal vitamins is feeling queasy. You can try to combat this by taking your vitamins with a snack or just before going to bed. If that doesn’t work, try another product – you’ll often find that while one set of prenatal vitamins makes you feel bad, you won’t even notice some of the others. (The very gentle Best Nest prenatal vitamins are particularly popular for women who have problems with nausea.)

As prenatal vitamins contain large amounts of iron, they can often cause constipation. The best options here (apart from trying other products) are to drink lots of fluids, get plenty of exercise and eat more fiber. You could also investigate taking a stool softener.

Love pregnancyIf you’re still plagued by side effects, talk to your doctor about taking the crucial vitamins separately. It’s more complicated, but it should be able to bypass your problems this way.

One final issue concerns vitamin A. Try to find a product that contains vitamin A as beta-carotene (which is absolutely fine) rather than retinol. In doses over ~2500 IU, retinol can itself cause birth defects, so high dosages of retinol should always be avoided.

The Best OTC Prenatal Vitamins

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to over the counter prenatal vitamins, so you’ll always have another option if one or two give you unpleasant side effects.

To save you the effort of trawling through endless products and reviews, we’ve done our own extensive research to find the best OTC prenatal vitamins. You can find our favorite choices below.

Rainbow Light Prenatal One

In our opinion, this is the very best OTC prenatal multivitamin. It contains everything that a prenatal supplement should, including a full 800mcg of folic acid and 30mg of iron – almost double the amount found in most competitors.

Crucially, the Rainbow Light Prenatal One is also one of the cheapest prenatal multivitamins on the market, despite outperforming most of the others. The tablets are even vegan and gluten free, (as well as yeast, sugar and dairy/lactose free).

This is without a doubt our recommended choice for a simple once daily prenatal multivitamin.

Check the current price by clicking here.

Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins

Our runner-up for best OTC prenatal vitamins goes to this Best Nest product. Another once daily pill, this supplement has a few advantages over our winner above, but it does cost twice as much.

The Best Nest multivitamin is vegetarian, non-GMO and gluten free. It’s also made entirely from whole food sources and it’s supposed to be much gentler on your stomach than its competitors.

While it has everything you need in a prenatal vitamin, Best Nest’s biggest selling point is the inclusion of methylfolate and methylcobalamin, natural alternatives to standard folic acid and vitamin B12.

Check the Best Nest price here.

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin

These are undoubtedly the best organic prenatal vitamins. The New Chapter tablets are also non-GMO and probiotic-cultured to prevent nausea, even when taken on an empty stomach.

Click here to check the current price.

Nature Made Prenatal Multi

These are the cheapest prenatal vitamins we recommend.  The Nature Made multivitamin even includes omega-3 fatty acids like DHA, a major selling point, as well as 800mcg of folic acid and 27mg of iron.

However, one possible downside is that these tablets don’t contain copper, one of the secondary prenatal vitamins. But if you’re looking for cheap prenatal vitamins, these are the ones to go for.

Check the price here.

Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Multivitamin

Garden of Life is always one of our favorite brands, and for good reason. Their products are pricey, but they’re always ethical and extremely high quality.

This prenatal multivitamin is no exception, being vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and based on whole foods with no binders or fillers.

Take a look at the tablets here.

Why Every Vegan Needs to Take B12

We all need vitamin B12 to survive, and of course vegetarians and vegans are no exception. The problem is that B12 is only produced naturally by bacteria that are usually found in the guts of animals. This makes meat and dairy products the best natural sources of vitamin B12 – not ideal for those of us who don’t eat meat!

Practically every medical body recommends that vegans (and sometimes vegetarians) take vitamin B12 supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough of this essential nutrient in a meat-free diet, and B12 deficiency is definitely something you should be concerned about.

What Does Vitamin B12 Do?

Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) plays an extremely important role in a number of biological processes. It’s essential for DNA synthesis and cell metabolism, which together make B12 crucial for energy production.

Doctor B12We also need B12 to synthesize fatty acids and to form healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around our bodies. Healthy nerve and brain function requires vitamin B12 too.

Slightly more abstract (but no less important), is the fact that high levels of B12 reduce the levels of homocysteine in the body. This is a good thing, as homocysteine is a known risk factor for a number of cognitive, cardiac and circulatory problems, including potentially fatal heart disease.

What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough B12?

Most people can cope just fine without B12 for a few weeks or months, as the vitamin is stored in the body for far longer than many other substances. And so the initial symptoms of B12 deficiency tend to be mild and hard to diagnose.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency MedicalHowever, if your B12 levels remain low for too long, the consequences can be serious. Leaving B12 deficiency untreated for just six months can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. Your brain tissue will also sustain damage, which could be irreversible.

More research is definitely needed in this area, but chronic B12 deficiency has been linked to a number of other unpleasant illnesses such as Alzheimer’s (see here).

Pregnant vegetarian and vegan women need to be particularly careful, as a B12-deficient infant may sustain lasting damage to both the brain and the nervous system. Stunted development is also a very real possibility.

How Do I Know If I Have Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

The best way to know for sure is to get your blood levels checked by a doctor. It’s a simple and reliable procedure. But unfortunately the truth is that many vegetarians (and the vast majority of vegans) who don’t take B12 supplements are, to some extent, B12 deficient.

Some of the physical symptoms of B12 deficiency to look out for include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Canker sores
  • Bruising more easily than normal
  • Paleness
  • Poor (or sometimes even absent) reflexes
  • Lack of vibration and soft touch sensation
  • GAVE syndrome (a gastrointestinal issue)

Mental problems from Vegan B12 DeficiencyAs B12 deficiency also affects the brain, a number of mental symptoms may also be apparent:

  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Changes in personality
  • Becoming irritable
  • Psychosis and dementia if left untreated

In the worst case scenario, untreated B12 deficiency will eventually be fatal. Sometimes this can happen within as little as three years.

Basically, you really don’t want vitamin B12 deficiency, but it’s alarmingly common among vegans and vegetarians. So how can you get more B12 in your diet?

Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

As mentioned earlier, the best sources of B12 are meat and dairy products. Reliable and natural vegan-friendly sources of B12 simply don’t exist. Claims that seaweed and other plants are some kind of miracle solution are everywhere on the Internet, but they’re not backed by any kind of scientific evidence.

If you’re vegan, you only really have two choices: take supplements or eat lots of B12-fortified foods.

Fortified Foods

Many cereals are now fortified with B12 in the US and much of the rest of the western world. This began as an effort to increase the average citizen’s B12 intake, and the program has been extraordinarily successful.

Lots of vegans rely on fortified foods for their vitamin B12, as they can potentially remove the need to take regular B12 pills. And it’s not just cereals anymore either – soy and almond milk, nutritional yeast and meat substitutes can all be fortified with B12.

The B12 used in these products is vegan-friendly, as it’s produced in laboratories using bacteria cultures rather than extracting it from animals.

The main issue is getting enough B12 from fortified foods alone. The amount of B12 varies enormously between different products, and you’ll spend half your life studying labels for nutritional info. Even if you find good fortified foods, you’ll need to eat them two or three times per day to maintain healthy B12 levels.

Fortified foods often also contain cyanocobalamin. This is a type of B12 that does not occur naturally – it only exists as a product of laboratory production. The natural form of B12 that you would get from a meat-based diet is methylcobalamin. This form has a number of advantages over cyanocobalamin, and so we always recommend finding supplements or fortified foods that contain methylcobalamin.

You can find out more about the differences in our Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin article.

Some of our favorite B12-fortified foods are granola, Special K cereal, soy milk, protein bars, Marmite and oatmeal. And there’s loads more choice if you search on Amazon.

Vitamin B12 Supplements

Taking B12 supplements is the easiest, cheapest and most reliable way to boost your B12 intake. Most vegans will only need to take a single 2000mcg pill once or twice per week to ensure adequate levels of B12. Of course this can be split into taking 1000mcg tablets 2-4 times per week or any other equivalent. (More dosage info here.)

Note that taking a multivitamin will not be sufficient on its own. (Find out more here.)

You’ll also want to be careful that your supplements definitely contain methylcobalamin rather than cyanocobalamin.

If you want to play it really safe, you can always take extra tablets. Many people take a 1000mcg tablet every day. B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, so any excess is easily excreted. There is essentially zero risk of overdosing or taking too much B12, so don’t worry about it. You can read more about this here if you’re still concerned.

It can be difficult to find vegan methylcobalamin B12 supplements in stores, but fortunately Amazon comes to the rescue. We always recommend these sublingual vegan tablets from Deva Vitamins. They’re basically the perfect B12 supplement, and we’ve never had any problems with them.

For any vegetarians reading this, you have a few more options. Good alternatives include these capsules from Thorne Research and these tablets made by Pure Encapsulations. Both will do the job brilliantly.

Methylcobalamin Dosage – How Much Should You Take?

How much vitamin B12 you need depends on how old you are and if you have any illnesses. You need the same amount of B12 whether you take the methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin form, so to keep things simple we’re going to talk about methylcobalamin dosage here.

After all, we think methylcobalamin is always the better choice!

Recommended Methylcobalamin Dosage

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 is set by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). If your daily methylcobalamin dosage is above that suggested in the RDA for your age group, then you shouldn’t have a problem. The RDA is a sufficient intake to meet the nutritional needs of about 98% of healthy people.

Methylcobalamin DosageThere isn’t enough evidence to calculate an RDA for infants under a year old, so Adequate Intake levels (AIs) are given instead. These are set at a level that is assumed to meet an infant’s nutritional requirements.

The RDAs and AIs for vitamin B12 are as follows:

  • 0.4mcg at 0-6 months old*
  • 0.5mcg at 7-12 months old*
  • 0.9mcg at 1-3 years old
  • 1.2mcg at 4-8 years old
  • 1.8mcg at 9-13 years old
  • 2.4mcg at 14+ years old
  • 2.6mcg for pregnant women
  • 2.8mcg for breastfeeding women

*These figures are AIs. All other figures are RDAs.

You may also see these figures written with μg instead of mcg. Either way it means micrograms i.e. 1/1000th of a gram – a microscopic yet medically significant quantity.

Upper Tolerable Index Level

Methylcobalamin DosageThe Upper Tolerable Index Level is the maximum amount of a substance that can be consumed in a single day with no adverse health effects. Vitamin B12 and methylcobalamin do not have an UTIL as there is no evidence that high levels of B12 are harmful.

You cannot overdose on vitamin B12 and it has vanishingly low toxicity. No matter how high your methylcobalamin dosage is, any excess will simply be excreted out in your urine because B12 is a water-soluble vitamin.

You can read more about this in our B12 Overdose & Side Effects article.

Methylcobalamin Dosage in Supplements

Most young and healthy people do not need to take methylcobalamin supplements, but there are plenty of people who do. Vegans and vegetarians, people suffering from a number of gastrointestinal disorders and anyone over the age of 50 should take B12 supplements.

If you don’t eat meat, you generally won’t be getting any vitamin B12 in your diet. You can increase your intake by eating fortified cereals, but that will rarely be enough on its own. That means you need to reach your RDA by taking regular vegan methylcobalamin supplements.

Don’t be fooled by the huge quantities of B12 found in supplements. Just because it contains 80,000% of your RDA doesn’t mean you can take one tablet every two years and stay healthy! Recent studies have shown that only around 10mcg of a 500mcg oral supplement will actually be absorbed in healthy people.

This means that a weekly 1000mcg methylcobalamin supplement should probably be enough to ensure adequate B12 intake. However, many vegetarians and vegans take higher dosage supplements and/or take them more often. There is no harm in this, so you may as well go for it if you want to be absolutely certain you’re getting enough B12.

Methylcobalamin Dosages With Impaired Absorption

People with gastrointestinal problems and many older people struggle with the same problem: neither group are able to absorb enough vitamin B12 from their diets (albeit for different reasons). This would traditionally have been treated with B12 injections, but modern high-dose oral supplements have made that unnecessary.

Many over-50s suffer from a condition where the body no longer produces enough of a protein called intrinsic factor (IF), which is essential for vitamin B12 absorption. The methylcobalamin dosage in some supplements is enormous compared to the RDA, but a lack of IF means lots of older people have to rely on passive diffusion in the gut to absorb B12 into their bodies. This means that the vast majority of the supplement does nothing, with only about 1% being absorbed passively. Therefore even 1000mcg supplements would need to be taken at least two or three times per week – and 5000mcg supplements would be even better. Some will even take these every day to be on the safe side.

Sublingual tablets may be a better solution, as these bypass the gut and allow B12 to be absorbed into the bloodstream directly. This effectively increases the methylcobalamin dosage you receive from the same strength supplement. However, the research so far is inconclusive, and the battle between oral and sublingual supplements is still hotly contested.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

For people who have already been diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, a course of methylcobalamin supplements should begin immediately. A large methylcobalamin dosage will be required every day at first, gradually reducing frequency over time. This ensures your B12 levels recover as quickly as possible, prevents you from sliding back into deficiency, and also ensures you won’t be taking pointless extra supplements when your B12 levels are back to normal.

1000mcg tablets have proven to be very effective, given every day initially. When B12 levels improve, the tablets can be taken every few days instead, and then once per week to maintain a healthy level.

If you’d like to see the methylcobalamin supplements we recommend, check out our Recommended Supplements page!

The Best Methylcobalamin Brands

The supplements industry gets bigger every year, but consumers are a lot more savvy than they used to be. More and more people are looking closely at the ingredients and doing their own research. What do all those long chemical names actually mean, and what do they do? Do I want methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin? And even when you’ve decided that methylcobalamin is the best form of B12, you have to choose between dozens of brands with similar products. So which methylcobalamin brands are best?

(If you just want to know which supplement to take without reading about all the little differences, take a look at our Recommended Supplements page.)

Cost of Methylcobalamin Supplements

Methylcobalamin tablets that seem to be more or less exactly the same can cost more from different brands. Often this is a case of well known brands being able to charge more simply because you’ve heard the name before – just think of Apple for the perfect example of brand recognition in action!

This means that if you’re buying methylcobalamin supplements from brands like Thorne Research, Jarrow Formulas or Garden of Life, you’ll probably be spending more than you would if you went with some new unknown company.

Different Dosages

This really muddies the waters when looking at the cost of methylcobalamin supplements. One brand offering tablets at twice the price of another brand for the same number of pills could still be better value.

For example, if the first brand’s tablets are 5000mcg each and the others are only 1000mcg, then you only need to take one of the former instead of five of the latter. So it actually works out cheaper in the long run to buy the first, more expensive brand!

What Type Of Supplement Do You Want?

Long gone are the days where oral tablets were your only choice. Now the market is full of options, including sublingual tablets (which dissolve under the tongue), skin patches, sprays and even lollipops!

Which style of supplement is best for you depends largely on personal taste, as all these supplements are capable of doing the job.

Other Ingredients

Many methylcobalamin supplements contain extra ingredients like artificial sweeteners. No matter what somebody else recommends, it’s always important to read the label so you know exactly what you’re getting. If for example you’re allergic to a particular sweetener, then obviously you’ll need to avoid certain supplements!

More significant for most people is the fact that some brands include folate/folic acid in their B12 supplements e.g. these capsules. Whether or not you need it depends on your personal situation, but you can read more about the link between B12 and folic acid here.

The truth is that the differences between products offered by various methylcobalamin brands won’t really matter for most people. It’s much more of an issue when you’re choosing a multivitamin, as the composition of multivits can vary hugely from one brand to another.

Do You Have Other Requirements?

If you want your methylcobalamin supplement to be vegan, there’s still plenty of choice. Take a look at these sublingual tablets from Deva Vegan, these oral pills from Pure Encapsulations (which are also non-GMO) or this spray from Pure Advantage.

Garden of Life produces excellent supplements that are vegan, organic, gluten free, non-GMO and made from real nutritious foods. Their methylcobalamin spray is brilliant (although the dosage is relatively low), and their multivitamins are among the best.

The Most Reputable Methylcobalamin Brands

There are plenty of well respected methylcobalamin brands that you can’t really go wrong with. Some of our favorites (along with links to their pages on Amazon) are below:

Are Bigger Brands Better?

A single study several years ago found that some of the bigger methylcobalamin brands were actually outperformed by smaller, less well known brands. But of course that won’t always be true in general, and most people are happy to stick to what they know is going to work.

When it comes to dietary supplements, industry standards are very high and regulations are strict, so you’ll probably be fine whatever you choose. Having said that, smaller and newer companies have a bigger chance of going bankrupt than established methylcobalamin brands, which could leave you with nowhere to turn if something did go wrong.

If you’re in any doubt at all, just spend some time reading the reviews on Amazon. At the time of writing, Wonder Laboratories’ methylcobalamin tablets have an average of 4.4/5 stars from over 150 reviews. Deva Vegan vitamins beat even that, with 4.8 stars from 300+ reviews. And you’ll struggle to find anything better than the methylcobalamin tablets offered by Jarrow Formulas that have been reviewed more than 2200 times and are still averaging a very impressive 4.4 stars.

Get any of those products and you’re more or less guaranteed that you’re getting a great deal. If you’ve found a product that sounds too good to be true and doesn’t have many (or any!) reviews, then it’s probably best avoided.

Recommended Supplements

Most of our recommended supplements have already been mentioned above, but you can see the full list here. It features many of our favorite methylcobalamin brands, and we’re certain you’ll be happy with whichever one you choose! 🙂

Methylcobalamin for Weight Loss

The internet is littered with claims that you need to take B12 or methylcobalamin for weight loss. It’s often talked about as a ‘miracle pill’ that avoids the need for lifestyle and diet change, and helps you shed the pounds faster than you can believe.

But of course there’s no such thing as a miracle pill, or else whoever invented it would probably be the richest person ever. The truth is that taking methylcobalamin for weight loss will not help directly. However, it can be of benefit for some people.

First though, we should talk about what methylcobalamin actually is.

What Is Methylcobalamin?

Vitamin B12 comes in a few different forms, one of which is methylcobalamin. The other common type is cyanocobalamin (you can find out why methylcobalamin is the better supplement here), and you might also come across hydroxocobalamin or adenosylcobalamin occasionally.

Methylcobalamin is a natural type of vitamin B12 that is readily found in meat, dairy and other animal products. Unlike cyanocobalamin, your body can use methylcobalamin straight away, so we say that it is a ‘bioavailable’ form of B12.

Most people get enough methylcobalamin/B12 from their normal diet, but older people often suffer from malabsorption and are recommended to take B12 supplements. The same applies to vegans and vegetarians, as B12 only naturally occurs in animal products.

What Does Methylcobalamin Do?

What Does Methylcobalamin Do?Methylcobalamin is an essential vitamin. It plays a key role in cell metabolism, DNA synthesis and red blood cell and energy production.

If you don’t get enough methylcobalamin, you will eventually start to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. This causes a whole range of problems such as megaloblastic anemia, nerve damage and cerebral problems, some of which can be serious and irreversible.

How Taking Methylcobalamin For Weight Loss Can Help

Energy loss and fatigue are two of the key symptoms of low B12 levels. So by taking methylcobalamin supplements, you can reverse this process and enjoy a boost of energy and motivation. This in turn means that you’ll be able to do more exercise and find it psychologically easier to diet.

Low levels of vitamin B12 will also lead to elevated levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, blood clots, osteoporosis, strokes and arterial damage. These health problems are normally associated with being overweight, so B12 deficiency may exacerbate the need to lose weight quickly.

So methylcobalamin supplements could help you to lose weight and to become much healthier overall, but they can only help indirectly.

Why You Don’t Need Methylcobalamin For Weight Loss

The case for taking methylcobalamin pills sounds great so far, right? It would be hard to argue against the suggestion. But only if you’re already B12 deficient.

The problem comes when we try to extend the effectsthat methylcobalamin supplements have on people with B12 deficiency to people who already have enough B12. Because the results don’t cross over. You can’t keep taking more and more vitamin B12 and expect more and more energy every time. It just doesn’t work like that.

If you’re over 50 or vegan or vegetarian or suffer from a condition like Crohn’s, then you’re at risk of B12 deficiency. In that case, methylcobalamin supplements may well make a small contribution to your weight loss goals. But if your B12 levels are normal, taking more won’t do a thing.

Methylcobalamin Toxicity

As a water-soluble vitamin, any excess methylcobalamin will be excreted in urine. This means that methylcobalamin has a vanishingly low toxicity, and even extremely high doses won’t do you any harm. It is possible to be allergic to methylcobalamin, but a vitamin allergy of any kind is incredibly rare.

Not convinced? Read more here – Vitamin B12 Overdose And Side Effects.

As excess vitamin B12 doesn’t pose any risk, lots of people choose to take methylcobalamin supplements just to be on the safe side. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You can see the methylcobalamin supplements we recommend here.

Why Do People Think Methylcobalamin Helped Them Lose Weight?

Weight LossIt’s true there’s no shortage of people claiming that taking methylcobalamin for weight loss will solve all your problems. But unless they were B12 deficient to start with, methylcobalamin supplements won’t have had any medical effect. The evidence just isn’t there.

One possible explanation is the placebo effect. The human mind is a powerful thing, and if you’re convinced that something is going to help, then it probably will. If you still want to give it a shot, then you may as well go for it – methylcobalamin isn’t going to hurt you.

The Unfortunate Truth

Running for Weight LossEating healthy foods, reducing your calorie intake and doing plenty of aerobic exercise is the best and healthiest way to lose weight. It always has been, and it probably always will be. A balanced diet is very important, and taking a multivitamin is a good idea to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs. But B12 supplements aren’t going to help unless you needed them anyway.

Vitamin B12 and Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss SurgeryGastric bypass surgery and similar operations are sometimes used to help achieve extreme weight loss. This can undeniably be very effective, but it comes with a whole range of additional concerns. One is the need to take dietary supplements (including vitamin B12) for the rest of your life, as you will no longer be able to properly absorb these essential nutrients from your food.

To find out more, take a look at our dedicated article – How Gastric Bypass Surgery Affects B12.

Vitamin B12 and Metformin

Another exception to the rule is for patients taking metformin. This drug is often prescribed to type 2 diabetics as part of a weight loss program. However, one of the most common side effects of metformin is low B12, so methylcobalamin supplements are recommended for anyone taking metformin.

Similar care also needs to be taken with a wide variety of other medicines.

You can read more about this by checking out our article Interactions of B12 With Medication.

Good Luck!

We wish you all the best on your weight loss journey – good luck! 🙂

Do You Need Vitamin B12 Injections?

Vitamin B12 is a hugely important nutrient that we all need to live long, happy and healthy lives. Without enough B12, your body will suffer from impaired brain function and a damaged nervous system. B12 is also necessary for DNA synthesis, the formation of red blood cells, and the metabolism of every cell in your body. It would be impossible to exaggerate just how important vitamin B12 really is.

Sources of Vitamin B12
Animal products are the best sources of B12, as the vitamin is synthesized by bacteria living in the guts of these animals. It is possible to get enough vitamin B12 from a non-vegetarian diet, and most young and healthy people won’t require any supplements.

Sources of B12If you want to make sure you’re getting enough B12 and you don’t want to take supplements, then you need to eat plenty of fish, meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products. Thanks to a hugely successful FDA initiative (and similar campaigns in other developed countries), many cereals are now fortified with B12, greatly increasing the average person’s intake.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are many and varied. They include fatigue, irritability, poor memory, depression, GAVE syndrome, numbness or tingling in the extremities and easy bruising. There are many other possible symptoms, and in extreme cases the patient may even suffer from dementia or psychosis.

Some of these effects may become permanent if the underlying deficiency is left untreated for six months or more. Irreversible nerve damage is unfortunately not uncommon.

A lack of vitamin B12 has also been linked to a number of other illnesses and diseases. Many of these links are still not confirmed and more research is required, but you can find more information about a few of the most likely connections elsewhere on this site.

For more information, check out our Vitamin B12 Deficiency article.

Vegetarian B12 DeficiencyAre You at Risk of B12 Deficiency?
After seeing the dietary sources of B12 above, it should come as no surprise that vegetarians and vegans are often B12 deficient. In fact all non-meat eaters are recommended to take vitamin B12 supplements, as it simply is not possible for your diet to contain enough of the vitamin if you do not eat animal products.

The fortification of cereals has gone some way to reducing this negative effect of vegetarian diets, but it has still not been eliminated.

The other large group of people with B12 deficiency are those with absorption problems. Your body produces less of a protein called intrinsic factor as you get older. This protein is necessary for the absorption of B12 in the small intestine, so an 80 year old will get less B12 than a 20 year old with the exact same diet. This is an extremely common condition known as pernicious anemia, and many doctors recommend all over-50s (or certainly over-60s) take B12 supplements.

Those with small bowel problems such as celiacs or people with Crohn’s disease will also have issues absorbing enough B12, as will many patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery.

Alcoholics are another risk group, and a number of medicines can also interfere with B12 absorption.

For more information, take a look at our Are You at Risk of B12 Deficiency? article.

Vitamin B12 ShotsVitamin B12 Injections
B12 deficiency has traditionally been treated with a course of injections. This is an effective treatment regardless of the cause of a deficiency, and it is certainly the fastest way to increase your blood B12 levels. After all, what could be quicker than injecting the vitamin directly?

However, many people have a fear of needles or generally don’t want any injections if they can be avoided. Fortunately modern medicine has given us a number of viable alternatives to B12 shots.

Alternatives to Injections
Oral B12 supplements are now widely available and very affordable. These are a fantastic option for vegetarians and other people with no absorption problems, and supplements of this kind generally negate the need for any injections at all.

B12 SupplementsThe situation is a little more complicated for those suffering from pernicious anemia or bowel problems. Oral tablets have the same problem as food, in that they cannot be broken down properly to give the body the B12 it needs.

The answer comes in the form of extremely high dose oral supplements. If the concentration of B12 is sufficiently high, then some of the vitamin will be absorbed in the gut by a process known as passive diffusion. Only a small percentage will be absorbed in this way, but that’s all you need when you ingest such large quantities. Supplements with dosages as high as 5000mcg or even more do not require a prescription and can be easily bought online.

It’s important to note that vitamin B12 has an extremely low toxicity, so overdosing is not a concern. The vitamin is water soluble, so any excess in the body will simply be eliminated via the urinary tract. If you’re not convinced, take a look at this article.

Other possibilities to consider include sublingual tablets, nasal sprays and skin patches. These supplements bypass the gastrointestinal tract and can also serve as viable alternatives to injections.

Disclaimer: you should always discuss the possibilities with your doctor before making a decision.

Most B12 shots and supplements use cyanocobalamin as the active ingredient. This is a synthetic form of B12 that does not occur in nature. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work, but it is less efficient, as your body has to convert it into a different form of B12 before it can be used.

It therefore makes sense to supplement with one of the more ‘bioavailable’ forms of B12 directly. So if you get injections, ask for methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin rather than cyanocobalamin. The same goes for buying supplements online – always check the labels. All the supplements that we recommend contain methylcobalamin, as we firmly believe that’s the best option for you.

You can read more about the different options and why the choice matters in our extremely popular article Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin.

So Do You Need B12 Injections?
The answer is probably no. Vitamin B12 deficiency is very serious, but the high-dose alternatives provided by modern medicine mean that B12 shots are no longer strictly necessary for most patients. If you don’t mind needles and would rather not take pills or your doctor has other reasons for recommending injections, then by all means follow their advice. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with B12 injections as a treatment method – they’re just not for everyone.

It should also be noted that many people take B12 supplements to boost their energy or improve their memory. And they work! But only if the cause behind your problems is B12 deficiency. If you’ve already got enough B12 in your system, then taking more isn’t going to help. Of course, taking B12 supplements to ensure you never become deficient may well be a wise choice.

Recommended Supplements
If you’d rather take supplements than get injected, we’ve got a list of recommended supplements to make sure you’re only getting the best. They include oral and sublingual tablets, nasal sprays and more – even B12 lollipops! They all contain methylcobalamin (the best form of B12) and you can get them all quickly and easily on Amazon. You can check out the full list of recommended supplements here.

Can B12 Help With Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a huge problem around the world, with 176000 people dying from the disease in 2013 alone. And now some recent evidence suggests that vitamin B12 may be able to play a significant role in the arsenal of techniques we have to fight this horrible illness. But first, let’s get a little background on sickle cell disease itself.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle Cell DiseaseThe name actually covers a whole group of genetically inherited blood disorders. The most common of these is naturally the only one that most people have heard of – sickle cell anemia.

SCD affects the haemoglobin in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is the protein that carries oxygen around your body, so any abnormalities here can have very serious consequences. Sickle cell disease causes red blood cells to become malformed, distorting their healthy uniform disc shape into a rigid, sickle-like shape instead.

Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease
The first problems tend to appear when a  baby is around five or six months old. The symptoms may include the following:

  • Anemia (decreased amount of haemoglobin or red blood cells)
  • Pain
  • Bacterial infections
  • Stroke

As the patient gets older, they will often develop long-term pain that may never go away entirely.

Painful sickle cell disease ‘attacks’ can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors, including dehydration, temperature changes, stress and high altitude.

What Causes Sickle Cell Disease?DNA Genetic Sickle Cell
If you’ve never shown any signs of suffering from sickle cell disease, you don’t need to worry about contracting it. SCD is a genetic disorder that only reveals itself if you receive an abnormal haemoglobin gene from both of your parents.

Diagnosis is confirmed by a blood test that is carried out at birth on all children in many western countries. It’s also possible to diagnose an at-risk baby while it’s still developing in the womb.

Many people are so-called ‘carriers’ of sickle cell disease. This means that they have only one abnormal haemoglobin gene, so it is not expressed and they suffer no ill effects. Indeed, lots of carriers will never know they have a faulty gene. However, if they go on to have children with another carrier, their baby will have a 25% chance of suffering from sickle cell disease.

Sickle Cell Disease DistributionThere are thought to be around 3.2 million people with SCD around the world, greatly outnumbered by the roughly 43 million carriers. The disease is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by people in India, the Arabian Peninsula and people of African heritage living in other countries.

Isn’t Sickle Cell Disease Connected to Malaria?
All many people know about sickle cell disease is a half-remembered fact from high school biology. In a curious twist, people with sickle cell trait are less likely to become ill with malaria in areas where it is endemic. This is due to a particular quirk in the life cycle of the malaria parasite.

Unfortunately this anti-malarial protection only extends to carriers of SCD, not the patients who actually suffer from the disease. In a double blow, they are in fact more vulnerable than the rest of the population.

Sickle Cell Disease Treatment
Sickle Cell TreatmentAs a genetic disorder, sickle cell disease generally cannot be cured. It is possible for a small number of children to be cured by a bone marrow transplant in the right circumstances, but most patients can only try to prevent painful attacks of the disease.

This is done by always maintaining a high fluid intake, avoiding excessive exertion, taking pain medication, preventing illness through antibiotics and vaccinations, as well as blood transfusions and hydroxycarbamide meds for some.

And this is where B12 finally comes in, as many doctors now recommend taking three B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid) every day. Folic acid supplements have been used to treat sickle cell disease for a long time, but the idea of using vitamins B6 and B12 is relatively new.

Vitamin SupplementsThe idea is that taking these supplements daily may help to reduce endothelial damage (damage in the cells lining the walls of veins and arteries) in sickle cell patients. The current recommended dosages are not yet standardized, but are generally around 1mg folic acid, 6μg B12 and 6mg B6, all once per day.

More research is definitely needed in this area, but there is good reason for sickle cell patients to take these supplements anyway. They work together to lower homocysteine levels, which makes strokes (one of the worst effects of SCD) less likely. And taking folic acid alone can mask B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia, which is again most common in African Americans.

Even if future research shows that B12 and B6 are not effective in fighting sickle cell disease, taking the vitamin supplements will have many health effects and such small doses would not be harmful anyway.

First image (‘Normal blood cells next to a sickle-blood cell, colored scanning electron microscope image’) courtesy of OpenStax College under a CC BY 3.0 license. Third image (‘Distribution of the sickle-cell trait shown in pink and purple’) courtesy of Muntuwandi at English Wikipedia under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Could It Be B12? Review

Could It Be B12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses is a truly remarkable book that can boast a number of readers who claim that it has quite literally saved their lives.

Could It Be B12? BookPatients suffering from a wide range of illnesses caused by vitamin B12 deficiency have endured agony for years or even decades, slowly becoming progressively weaker and more unwell. Some of these people were lucky enough to find Could It Be B12? before their symptoms completely took over their lives, but for some the book came only just in time.

This explosive 321-page call to arms gives patients the knowledge they need to stand up to the medical industry and demand treatment that their doctors might otherwise refuse. Could It Be B12? describes an alarming situation in which thousands of patients are routinely misdiagnosed, resulting in vast and completely unnecessary medical bills.

It seems possible that private healthcare firms exploit this fact to extract as much money as possible from each individual patient. Why treat the underlying condition with just a few cheap vitamin B12 supplements when you can charge a fortune for a battery of tests and ineffective treatments that do nothing but temporarily suppress your symptoms?

Many of the people featured by Could It Be B12? aren’t even tested for low B12 levels. Some patients report that instead of being given a simple diagnostic blood test, they were subjected to a number of extortionately priced alternatives that could never have found the real problem anyway.

Perhaps we should expect this by now. This is rampant capitalism at its finest – profit comes above all else, regardless of how many lives are ruined or even ended in the process.

But what may be more alarming is the possibility that many of our doctors are simply unaware of the problems posed by vitamin B12 deficiency. This is an illness that affects huge swathes of the population (vegetarians, vegans, anyone over the age of 50 and a number of other groups are all at risk), but the surprisingly wide array of possible symptoms cause it to be routinely misdiagnosed as a slew of other diseases, conditions and illnesses.

The very title of the book claims this to be an epidemic, and it certainly seems possible for it to be more than mere hyperbole. In Could It Be B12? the authors describe the cases of various unfortunate patients who have been misdiagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, cardiovascular disease and more besides. It could hardly be more shocking.

Another factor at play is that what many labs consider to be a ‘healthy’ level of vitamin B12 may in fact be anything but. It is a sign of how widespread B12 deficiency has become that dangerously low levels of the vitamin can now be reported as ‘normal’, a state of affairs that helps no one and harms thousands.

This damning insight into the dangerous lack of knowledge exhibited by healthcare professionals across the country offers hundreds, thousands or maybe even millions of people a glimmer of hope. The book includes an impressive number of case studies and testimonials, all featuring patients who have been misdiagnosed and given pointless treatments for years. They displayed a wide range of symptoms, but ultimately the elusive illness behind them all turned out to be vitamin B12 deficiency, and a simple (and extremely cheap) program of B12 supplementation was all they ever really needed.

Could It Be B12? was written by Sally M. Pacholok R.N., B.S.N and Jeffrey J. Stuart D.O., a pair of highly qualified healthcare professionals. Sally’s own experiences with B12 deficiency inspired her to write this book after she was forced to do her own research when her doctors failed to identify the problem. She self-diagnosed her vitamin B12 deficiency and was able to treat herself, but with 25 years of experience as an emergency room nurse and parademic, she knew that it might not be that simple for everyone.

It’s encouraging to know that this comprehensive guide to B12 was written by such knowledgeable minds, and the result is a treasure trove of information that everyone should read. There’s a good chance you’ll realize that you, a friend or a relative might well be suffering from B12 deficiency, and reading this book could have an incredible positive impact on their lives.

The book has sections on symptoms, testing, diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency, giving patients all the information they need to follow in the author’s footsteps and self-diagnose and self-treat.

All of the facts and conclusions in Could It Be B12? are backed up by not only a large number of case studies and testimonials, but also by extensive citations to medical literature and additional details in the appendices. The book has been revised to include new data from the latest cutting-edge research, so you can be sure that you won’t have to wade through reams of outdated information.

Overall this is an incredible book with the power to change and even save lives. One physician summed up his feelings on the book by simply saying, “I can only hope that malpractice attorneys don’t read this book”. That really should tell you everything you need to know about quite how much of an impact this book could have.

And for just $10, that’s got to be money well spent.

Could It Be B12? is now available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle ebook.

Vitamin B12 and Neuropathy – Everything You Need to Know

What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is defined as dysfunction or disease in at least one peripheral nerve. These peripheral nerves make up a complex network connecting the brain and spinal cord to the other regions of the body e.g. the organs, skin and muscles.

Peripheral neuropathy is the condition where some of these peripheral nerves are damaged or diseased, causing the information they relay to be corrupted in some way. It is peripheral neuropathy specifically that we’ll be focusing on here.

Peripheral Neuropathy SymptomsSymptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy can present in a number of different ways depending on which nerves have been damaged. The peripheral nerves can be split into three categories: sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. Damage can occur in any or all of these types of nerves, and the symptoms vary accordingly.

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Pain/numbness/tingling sensations, most commonly in the hands and feet
  • Sensory loss e.g. changes to temperature sensitivity
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Burning or shooting pains (often worse at night)

There are many more possible symptoms, but those are some of the most frequently encountered. They do not all have to be present for peripheral neuropathy to be diagnosed (see below).

Note that neuropathy is normally chronic rather than acute i.e. it usually develops slowly over a period of several weeks or months.

Causes of Peripheral NeuropathyDiabetes Neuropathy B12
There are many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy, the most common of which is diabetes. Another common cause is vitamin B12 deficiency, and that’s what we’re going to focus on here.

Having said that, the two can sometimes be interlinked. Metformin is a standard medication given to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. While metformin is a great drug from this perspective, it can also decrease B12 levels as an unfortunate side effect.

The B12 Connection
In a healthy person, the nerves are protected by a sheath made of a fatty substance called myelin. Vitamin B12 plays an extremely important role in both the synthesis and the maintenance of myelin, so B12 deficiency can cause the protective myelin sheath to deteriorate over time.

This demyelination is a serious problem, as without myelin your nerves will no longer function properly. For instance, the nerve signals that travel between your brain, spinal cord and other body parts can be disrupted, causing information to be misinterpreted or even blocked entirely.

Basically, vitamin B12 deficiency causes peripheral neuropathy, along with a whole host of other neuropsychiatric conditions. And that’s not to mention the other unrelated effects of B12 deficiency, which may include GAVE syndrome, megaloblastic anemia and many other serious illnesses.

Even mild B12 deficiency can cause serious damage to the brain and the nervous system, and this damage may be permanent if the underlying cause is not treated.

Diagnosis of Peripheral NeuropathyDoctor Peripheral Neuropathy B12
If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency or peripheral neuropathy, the best advice would be to see your doctor as soon as possible. If he or she agrees that it’s a possibility, they should then run a number of tests to confirm the diagnosis.

These tests may include a neurological exam, a nerve conduction velocity test, blood work and an electromyography. Don’t worry if your doctor doesn’t do all of these tests – sometimes they won’t be necessary. Trust them to know what’s best.

Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
The treatment obviously depends on the cause. As there are many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy, it would be ridiculous to list here all the treatments, medications and therapies available.

B12 Supplements for NeuropathyHowever, if your neuropathy is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, then the treatment is very simple: more B12. This could come in the form of B12 injections or dietary supplements. Relatively recent advances in high dose oral pills may mean that injections are no longer necessary (even in patients with impaired B12 absorption) so this is worth talking to your doctor about.

As noted above, some nerve damage may be permanent. However, if your B12 deficiency is treated quickly and effectively, there is a good chance of a complete recovery.

In the meantime, it may be wise to take extra safety precautions if you’re struggling with everyday tasks like walking, driving, cooking etc.

If your doctor recommends taking B12 supplements or you want to take some to be on the safe side, then rest assured that there are a wide range of products readily available online.

You can choose from oral pills, sublingual tablets, sprays and more.

We’ve even put together a helpful list of our recommended supplements here.

If you still have any questions, be sure to ask in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you out. 🙂

Why Cyanocobalamin Could Be Better Than Methylcobalamin

It might seem odd that a website created to educate people about the benefits of methylcobalamin is arguing the case for cyanocobalamin instead. We’re still very much of the opinion that methylcobalamin is a superior nutritional supplement – you can read exactly why in our most popular article here. But recent emails we’ve received suggest that people are getting the wrong impression about cyanocobalamin. It’s certainly not a nutritional disaster, and for some people it might even be better than methylcobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin MethylcobalaminWhat Is Cyanocobalamin?
For a solid overview of the science, take a look at this article we wrote. Basically, cyanocobalamin is one of four different types of vitamin B12. The others are methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. They all behave in roughly the same way, but cyanocobalamin is by far the most common form of B12 you’ll find in dietary supplements.

Cyanocobalamin Is Cheaper Than Methylcobalamin
The reason cyanocobalamin is so much more common in vitamin B12 supplements is because it’s a lot cheaper to manufacture and store. It is a synthetic compound i.e. it doesn’t occur in nature (the other three types of B12 all do) but it’s still more economical to produce cyanocobalamin in a laboratory than it is to make any other form of B12.

Cheap Vitamin B12 SupplementsIf you can’t afford methylcobalamin supplements, then taking cyanocobalamin supplements instead is an infinitely better choice than taking nothing at all. Cyanocobalamin still works, it just has a few downsides.

The fact that cyanocobalamin is cheaper also means that far more supplements have been developed that contain this compound rather than methylcobalamin. This means greater choice, whether you’re looking for sublingual B12 tablets, a vegetarian multivitamin or anything else you might want or need.

But Aren’t Synthetic Chemicals Bad?
Not always. Obviously some synthetic chemicals are bad for you (like crystal meth) but there are plenty that are completely harmless. Synethic, manmade substances are not necessarily worse for you than their natural equivalents. Sometimes they’re actually better!Dangerous Cyanocobalamin

And anyway, it’s not as if there aren’t any natural chemicals that will harm you. For a mild example, think about poison ivy. For something more serious, try potent snake venom or the flu virus or malaria or ebola or any number of other things you really don’t want to come into contact with.

Just because something is made in a lab doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad for you.

Isn’t Methylcobalamin More Efficient?
Methylcobalamin is the form of vitamin B12 that your body actually wants and needs. As an unnatural compound, cyanocobalamin isn’t directly useful – your body first has to convert the cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin before it can be used. It does this by swapping a cyanide group for a methyl group.

Because this conversion is necessary, we say that methylcobalamin is more ‘bioavailable’ than cyanocobalamin.

That’s not to say that cyanocobalamin isn’t effective (it is), it just takes a little longer and there’s an extra step involved.

CigaretteSmokers are an important exception, particularly heavy smokers. The long-term buildup of toxins and heavy metals in the liver can seriously impair the body’s ability to convert cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin. So if you smoke, you should definitely choose a supplement that contains methylcobalamin. You can read more about how smoking affects vitamin B12 here.

What About The Cyanide?
This is a tricky one. The key difference between cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin is that where the latter has a methyl group (just a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms), cyanocobalamin instead has one carbon atom and one nitrogen atom – a cyanide group.

No one is going to tell you that cyanide is good for you. No one sane anyway. It’s one of the most infamous poisons in the world, and for good reason. In a high enough dose, cyanide absolutely will kill you. But the amount of cyanide released into your body when cyanocobalamin is converted into methylcobalamin is utterly insignificant. It’s so negligible it doesn’t even matter. Your body won’t have the slightest problem removing such minute quantities of cyanide.

Cyanide AppleDon’t believe me? Then you should know that you’d get more cyanide in your bloodstream by eating an apple (or any number of other perfectly safe and healthy foods) than you would by taking a cyanocobalamin supplement. Seriously, there’s literally nothing to worry about here. It’s completely safe.

How About Hydroxocobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin?
These compounds (different forms of vitamin B12) are talked about far less than methyl- and cyanocobalamin. This is mostly because they are very rarely present in supplements, so most people will never even hear of them.

Your body is perfectly capable of converting between the different kinds of B12, and it does so all the time. So by not directly ingesting hydroxo- or adenosylcobalamin, you’re not missing out on anything.

And as you won’t be able to get hold of them anyway, it’s not really worth worrying about.

I’m Still Not Convinced Cyanocobalamin Is Safe
The availability of methylcobalamin in supplements and multivitamins is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s true that more and more products are being released and some companies are switching over from one to the other, but cyanocobalamin was in medical use long before methylcobalamin was.

Cyanocobalamin InjectionIn fact, the most common medical treatment for severe B12 deficiency is still injections of cyanocobalamin. Injections are normally no longer strictly necessary thanks to the advent of very high dose oral pills, and methylcobalamin could be used instead, but when cyanocobalamin injections have done the job perfectly up until now, many doctors don’t see any reason to change.

Cyanocobalamin has been in medical use for a very long time. Countless studies have been carried out by expert scientists and nutritionists to establish both its safety and its efficacy. If there was a problem, we would have seen something by now.

Cyanocobalamin is not dangerous.

So Why Would Anyone Take Methylcobalamin?
Many people consider methylcobalamin to be preferable because it’s more bioavailable (and therefore more efficient) than cyanocobalamin. Also, as mentioned above, heavy smokers and some other groups should definitely choose methylcobalamin if it’s available.

Recent research has also suggested that methylcobalamin might be retained in the body for longer than cyanocobalamin. This means that it could be possible for vegetarians and vegans to maintain a healthy level of vitamin B12 despite taking fewer supplements. More research is still needed, but it’s nevertheless a good sign.

There are still a few good reasons to choose methylcobalamin over cyanocobalamin, but don’t base your choice on bad science or unfounded fears about synthetic compounds.

It comes down to this: if you have the money and want the absolute best, then take methylcobalamin supplements. If money is tight and you just want anything that will boost your B12 levels, then don’t stress about it – just buy some cyanocobalamin supplements instead.

We’ve spent a lot of time finding and investigating various different B12 supplements that are readily available online. You can find our recommended methylcobalamin supplements here, and our recommended cyanocobalamin supplements here.

Still got questions? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 🙂

Everything you need to know about Methylcobalamin!