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?
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.
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?
It’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
Eating 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
Gastric 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.
We wish you all the best on your weight loss journey – good luck! 🙂