Methylcobalamin Cyanocobalamin

Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin

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There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you’re likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. The latter is much more common in multivitamins and B12 supplements, but there are lots of strong arguments to replace this ingredient with methylcobalamin.

Methylcobalamin is rapidly gaining popularity and will surely one day dominate the industry. But what is it that makes methylcobalamin a superior health supplement?

The Difference Between Methylcobalamin And Cyanocobalamin
These two different B12 formsCyanocobalamin Methylcobalaminare very similar. The only chemical difference between them comes down to one small part of the molecule, where the names give it away: where methylcobalamin has a methyl group (just carbon and hydrogen), cyanocobalamin has a cyanide group. And obviously cyanide isn’t something you normally expect to find lurking in your multivitamin.

In fact, cyanocobalamin isn’t something nature ever intended your body to deal with – it exists only as a chemical synthesized in laboratories. It doesn’t occur naturally in any living organism.

How Your Body Deals With B12
Your body actually has no use for the cyano- compound itself, and 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.

B12 MoleculeThis doesn’t only mean that cyanocobalamin is a less efficient way to supplement your vitamin B12 intake. You also face the problem of what happens to the cyanide group that is liberated during conversion into the ‘active’ (useful) form of B12 i.e. methylcobalamin. Cyanide is of course famous for being a poison, so your body needs to remove this unwanted substance.

It should be noted that the amount of cyanide released in the conversion process isn’t thought to be large enough to actually cause any damage, and some common foods will also introduce small amounts of cyanide into your system. Still, it’s probably fair to say that most people would prefer not to start deliberately ingesting cyanide!

Where Methylcobalamin Outperforms Cyanocobalamin
Methylcobalamin also has a few other explicit benefits over its cyanide-containing sibling. Research has shown that it remains in the body for a longer period of time and at higher The Best Supplementlevels than cyanocobalamin, which means that your body is supplied with vitamin B12 for longer if you use methylcobalamin than if you use cyanocobalamin.

The former may well also improve visual accommodation, but there is no evidence to suggest that the cyano- compound has the same effect. (Visual accommodation is the ability to quickly shift your focus from something nearby to something further away. It’s often impaired by things like staring at a computer screen, and is affected by methylcobalamin because it is closely related to the nervous system).

Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency
However, perhaps the greatest benefit of methylcobalamin comes when you consider the problem of B12 deficiency. In the majority of cases, this isn’t actually caused by not getting enough of the vitamin from your diet, but from being unable to absorb the vitamin properly. This can be caused by a variety of medical problems.

Taking sublingual methylcobalamin (under the tongue) or with an injection allows the body to bypass the problematic absorption in the small intestine and use the vitamin immediately. This ensures that your body gets exactly what it needs, whereas if cyanocobalamin is used there can be further problems with converting the chemical into the active methyl- form. Heavy smokers in particular may struggle to process cyanocobalamin because of heavy metals and toxins that build up in the liver.

An Inconvenient Truth
So why do pharmaceutical companies use cyanocobalamin in the first place? Why does it ever appear in multivitamins, and why do so few people know about the better alternative? The answer is predictably disappointing: money.Money and Profit

Synthesizing the unnatural cyano- form is far cheaper than making or obtaining methylcobalamin. And of course most of these businesses are more focused on increasing their profits than making sure you get the best possible supplementation.

Methylcobalamin is what your body actually wants and needs; cyanocobalamin is the substandard and unnatural substitute brought to you by the laboratories of big pharma. It doesn’t perform as well and even releases a known toxin into your body. So next time you buy a multivitamin or a B12 supplement, check the ingredients and make sure you’re getting the superior methylcobalamin that your body can actually use.

Vitamin B12 Supplements
We’ve picked out a few methylcobalamin products for you that are readily available on Amazon. Please take a look at our Recommended B12 Supplements page if you want to give your body the best!

If you choose to take cyanocobalamin supplements instead (after all, despite the problems mentioned above, they are generally cheaper), we’ve found some of the best of these products on Amazon too – see Cyanocobalamin Supplements.

The first two images were obtained through Wikimedia Commons. Other images, from top to bottom, are courtesy of renjith krishnan, digitalart, Yai Sirichai, and kittijaroon, all at

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19 thoughts on “Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin”

  1. This article blew me away. I have celiac disease which has come with a couple of vitamin deficiencies, B-12 being one of them. I started taking B-12 shots (cyanocobalamin form) 7 years ago (once a month) and would’ve continued taking them for the rest of my life (as suggested by my old gastroenterologist), had I not heard about the methylcobalamin form of B-12 from a holistic nutritionist. (I am only 36) In doing some research, it really sounds like this is the way to go and so I’ve received in the mail today my 1st bottle of GF sublingual B-12 (methyl form). I am very excited about giving this a try!! And, I truly hope that this article gets out there to many more people. It is super informative, thank you so much!
    The things your doctors do not tell you, things that make you go hmmmmmmm.

    1. Really glad we could help you out Kristin! Fingers crossed that methylcobalamin makes the difference you’re hoping for 🙂

    2. Hi Kristin,
      I understand from a dear ‘bio chemist’ friend of mine that the ‘effects’ of the B-12 on the body is a slow process and begins to see improvement around the 6 month mark. As you’ve been taking this form of of B-12 since October, can you feel a significant improvement ie. any blood work you may have done show any signs of improvement?? thanks!

  2. Excellent TRUTH about even suppliers that PRETEND to be providing “” Health “” products, that actually have cyanide / POISON as one of the main in-greed-ances.

    I used to use one of the more known products, that was the most potent multivitamin on the market, with B12 at 1800 % for a days recommended dosage by of big pharma’s LAP dogs the, FDA. An d I find OUT… Cyanocobalamin is made form cyanide.

    SO… I and everyone was taking 1800% above the daily minimum requirement (?) of “CYANIDE.” WOE!

    And these anti-health product pushers “CALL” that “health” products? They need a frontal-lobotomy reversal, asap!

    Everyone say….. “CYANIDE” Duh YUM YUM!

    Logically NO one with an IQ above their shoe size would EVER ingest “CYANIDE” into their bodies unless they wanted to commit voluntary sue-a-cyande, er ah suicide.

    No one can convince me other-wise!

  3. I am having severe adverse reactions to Cyanocobalamin and don’t know what to do. Would one have better luck with Methylcobalamin or would the adverse effects likely be the same?

    1. Hi Brenda,
      It’s hard to say for sure, as reactions to any kind of B12 are exceptionally rare. If it’s definitely the supplements that you’re reacting to, then it’s more likely to be another ingredient causing the problem than cyanocobalamin itself.
      Switching to methylcobalamin might solve the issue, but you might just need to change the brand of cyanocobalamin supplement! But it’s possible that neither of these options will work.
      Severe adverse reactions need to be taken seriously – I’d suggest seeing your doctor before taking any more B12 supplements of any kind – always better to be safe than sorry!
      Good luck! 🙂

    2. Brenda,

      What type of adverse reactions are/were you experiencing while consuming B12-cyanocobalamin? Have you tested to see if it is not another supplement, food, water, etc…?

      If you’re consuming a vitaimin B complex supplement, it could be one or more of the B vitamins which is causing your reactions. If your adverse reaction pertains to a skin disorder (itchiness, redness, flushing) then it could be B3 niacin (some have said that even niacinamide, which is purportedly to mitigate the flushing, has very little, if any discerable affect; however, it could be something else within the brand) that is causing the skin problems, if pertainable to you. Another possibility is the filler(s) that are used in your vitamin supplement. Btw, do you know if you have a gastrointestinal condition? If so, then your condition could be reacting to an ingredient(s) within your vitamin supplement. I suggest that you research high quality, vegan? vitamin supplements.

      Finally, as you probably know, some vitamins can alter the effectiveness (both increase and decrease) of certain vitamins/herbal supplements.

    3. Hi Brenda,
      It is possible for some people to have a sever adverse (allergic) reaction to cobalt, which is present in both of these forms of vitamin b12 (it’s the -cobal- in the middle of each name, & is a fundamental building block of the vitamin ). Initial reaction could include hives, (extreme) itching etc, & then progress on repeated exposure. That said, it’s fairly unco mm on to have a cobalt allergy, so it’s more likely to be a reaction to an ingredient in a particular brand of supplement than an allergy you have just discovered (altho if you’very suddenly started taking a very high dose supplement, an allergy IS possible, so please proceed with care).
      If it’s a cobalt allergy or sensitivity, the m or c form won’t make a difference, if it’s a dose-related sensitivity, perhaps try a smaller dose *if you are deficient -and once you know it’s not an allergy*. If you’re reacting to one of the fillers in the tablet, try another brand.
      HTH -stay well,

  4. I have been having problems with dizziness and being off balance. Have been getting vestibular rehabilitation, but it only helped a little. I have poor digestion, so I take a good probiotic daily. Also taking multivitamins, D3, and a magnesium/potassium supplement. But, I just noticed that my B12 is in the cyancobalamin form!!!!!! I do not have a job now, but as soon as I can afford it, I will buy the methylcobalamin form! Thanks!

  5. Interesting article and well presented, but is it missing an important piece of the puzzle? Doesn’t the body also needs adenosylacobalamin, which it can manufacture from cyanocobalamin, but NOT from methylcobalamin?

    While methylcobalamin can be one form of preferred B12, without adequate diet, or supplementation with cyanocobalamin (or hydroxycobalamin) can we get the optimal nutrients and health from B12 when taking ONLY methylcobalamin. Doesn’t this speak to importance of WHOLE FOODS and not just supplementation?

    So, while I agree that too many of the players in BOTH the supplementation and the pharmaceutical industries are only focused on profits and offer poor quality (and often fraudulent claims as well as fraudulent products) to the public, like most things in science — and in life — the reality is that it Almost always appears to be more complicated than we wish it was.

    1. Hi, it’s true that the human body also needs adenosylcobalamin, but I’m afraid you’re wrong on your next point – the body definitely is able to switch between methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. If we could only produce adenosylcobalamin from cyanocobalamin and adenosyl- was necessary for us to be healthy, then the human race would have gone extinct long ago as the cyano- form is entirely synthetic and doesn’t occur in nature!
      The ability to convert methyl- into adenosylcobalamin and vice versa is detailed elsewhere on this website.
      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  6. I also am a celiac patient & have been taking the vitamin B 12 with Cyenocobalamin& haven’t had any results so am thinking I will change to B-12 with Methylcobalamin..Is there a special kind I should take?
    Thank you.

  7. I have a question. I am severely allergic to cyanocobalamin. May I not be allergic to the methylcobalamin? I thought it was the trace of Cobalt but maybe it’s the cyanide. Thoughts?

    1. Cobalt allergies are rare but certainly possible – I’d suggest talking to your doctor and getting tested before taking any form of B12 again.

  8. Hi, I just took a vegan cyano form of supplement. I know methyl is more effective but so far that was what my money could buy. I’m not vegan but lacto vegetarian. Would I really get poisoned by taking a capsule a day ?? =x

    1. You won’t get poisoned – you ingest more cyanide when you eat an apple! There are lots of reasons to choose methylcobalamin rather than cyanocobalamin, but trying not to get poisoned isn’t one of them.

  9. Having been a victim of cyanocobalamin myself I have quite a bit of first hand knowledge about this subject. I wish I could fit it into a short space like this but It would take me an hour to tell the full story. I had been taking a multi B for a few months and not feeling well. I stopped. My doc asked me how I was going with it and I said I stopped because I couldnt handle it. He told me 1/3 of his clients said that. He said just take B12 then so I did for one day. I got sort of depressed/low mood within 30 mins of taking the sublingual. I tried it again the next day, same thing happened. I decided to stop taking it. Some years later on researching I found out there were other types of B12 eg Methylcobalamin. I tried methyl, no problem no mood swings. I since found out that I am far from alone and according to my naturopath at least 40% of patients dont handle Cyanocobalamin well. There seems to be a connection with the gene mutation of the C677T or A1268C which I know that I have (and is quite common). People with this Gene mutation dont handle folic acid well, and need folate instead. In my observation it also effects the ability to process cyanocobalamin.

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