Your body needs vitamin B12, which is also referred to as cobalamin. The major supplement sources of this vitamin are methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.

Are you aware of vitamin B12 deficiency? You wouldn’t want to experience symptoms such as fatigue or have issues with your digestive system, damages to your nerves, or conditions such s memory loss and depression. Well, these are things you can avoid with the help of the water-soluble vitamin B12. However, when you can’t meet your daily requirement, you might opt for the supplements instead. This can lead you to a tough choice between thetwo most common sources; methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Are there any differences between the two? Read on to find out.

What is Methylcobalamin?

This supplement source of vitamin B12 has a cobalt ion with a corrin ring surrounding it. Furthermore, it contains a methyl group and occurs naturally. You can obtain it from supplements or food sources such as meat, eggs, fish, and milk.

What is Cyanocobalamin?

Like the methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin also contains a cobalt ion, and a corrin ring surrounds it. Moreover, this supplement source of vitamin B12 has a cyanide molecule and is in synthetic form; hence it cannot be found in nature.

This is the most commonly used form of vitamin B12 since it is more stable and relatively cost-effective compared to the others. So, what happens when cyanocobalamin enters your body? It will get converted into either of the two active forms of vitamin B12 in your system; adenosylcobalamin or methylcobalamin.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

At this point, you might have already figured out some differences between these two common sources of vitamin B12. First, you have learned that methylcobalamin is natural while cyanocobalamin is synthetic. Also, methylcobalamin naturally occurs in supplements and foods like meat, fish, and eggs. On the other hand, cyanocobalamin is mostly used in supplements.

Additionally, the two have different rates of absorption and retention within your body. For instance, some studies suggest that the absorption of cyanocobalamin in your body is better than that of methylcobalamin.

Regarding the retention of the two forms, one study reported that methylcobalamin is better retained in your body than cyanocobalamin. However, according to research, the difference in absorption rates can be linked to the genetics and age of individuals.

The sad part is, currently, there is not enough research and studies conducted on the two forms; thus, concluding can be tricky due to limited evidence. Furthermore, there is still a need to conduct similar studies and research on healthy individuals to determine the absorption and retention rate of the two forms of vitamin B12.

What is the Similarity

Enough on the differences between the two. What brings them together? Is there a link or a similarity between the two? First, you might be glad to know that you can easily convert vitamin B1 into other forms regardless of the form you take.

When you intake cyanocobalamin, your body can convert it to two active forms of vitamin B12; adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin. The two are essential for good health.

Moreover, your body requires both methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin for an improved neurological function. Furthermore, the two forms are both reduced to a molecule of cobalamin. As much as there are specific differences between the two forms, it is clear enough they have one major similarity; health benefits. They also protect you against the risks of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.

Therefore, it is not a surprise to see recommendations for taking these capsules for a while to get the potential health benefits. These range from reduced chances of developing diabetic neuropathy, which can otherwise cause damages to your nerve.

Therefore, since both animal and human studies have shown the benefits of using both forms of vitamin B12 on diabetic neuropathy and other conditions affecting the nerves, you can use the supplements. However, it is essential to combine them all with a healthy and balanced diet.

Why Take Vitamin B12?

At this point, you might wonder why it is vital for you to take vitamin B12, whether it is from methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin. Remember that it is essential in your body, but unfortunately, it can’t produce it naturally. This, therefore, calls for you to take it from other sources, either supplements or foods. Well, you can consume it since it helps keep your blood healthy. Moreover, it supports the proper functioning of your nerve cells and is necessary for forming red blood cells and DNA synthesis.

Other benefits you can realize from this vitamin are boosting your energy, improved memory, a healthy heart, and others. Notably, it is advisable for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers to consume more vitamin B12. Therefore, you have a reason to take this vitamin. However, where can you source it from?

Food Sources

Other than getting vitamin B12 from the supplements, you can have it in your diet. The following are some of the foods enriched with the vitamin;

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products like milk
  • Nutritional yeast

Therefore, it is evident you don’t have to consume supplements to get vitamin B12. Instead, you can obtain it from the food sources which are rich in it. Remember, you can’t get it from plant foods unless they are fortified.

Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin; What to Go For

The decision of which form of vitamin B12 to go for can be tricky. However, if you want a more natural source that is more retained in your body, you can settle for methylcobalamin. On the other hand, you can settle for cyanocobalamin if you wish to go for the better-absorbed form.

Therefore, you can choose what form to consume depending on the effect you want. Moreover, you can consult your doctor first.


Vitamin B12 is essential in your body. It is available in two main forms; methylcobalamin which occurs naturally, and cyanocobalamin which is synthetic. Your body absorbs cyanocobalamin better and retains methylcobalamin better. Importantly irrespective of the form you choose to consume, it would be best to take a healthier diet. Getting good health might not all be about supplements. Do your best as you try to optimize your health. Also, consult your doctor or healthcare provider to determine if you can take the supplements.

MS, Lund University, Sweden

Nutrition plays an important role in human life. Eating habits are one of the factors that affect our health. There is often a misconception among people that nutritionists force a very restrictive diet, but that is not true. In fact, I don't ban any products, but I point out dietary mistakes and help change them by giving tips and new recipes that I've tried myself. I advise my patients not to resist change and to be purposeful. Only with willpower and determination can a good result be achieved in any area of life, including changing eating habits. When I don't work, I love to go climbing. On a Friday evening, you are most likely to find me on my couch, cuddling with my dog and watching some Netflix.

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