Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a necessary nutrient the body needs but cannot produce.  This vitamin is essential for the development of nerve cells, brain function, DNA, and the formation of red blood cells.

A vitamin B12 supplement can be taken to aid in a person’s well-being, especially if they are at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Two of the most common chemical forms are methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. To have a better understanding of the benefits of vitamin B12, check out our previous post: What are the benefits of vitamin B12?

Types of Vitamins B12 Supplements

  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Methylcobalamin
  • Adenosylcobalamin
  • Hydroxocobalamin


Cyanocobalamin is an artificial form of vitamin B12 not found in nature. The body must convert cyanocobalamin into an active form of adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin before it can be used.

Cyanocobalamin is mostly found in supplements and some fortified foods such as bread, snack bars, breakfast cereals, daily, and milk. It is considered more stable and cost-effective than other forms of vitamin B12.


Methylcobalamin is the vitamin B12 that is absorbed the easiest in the body. Since it is naturally occurring, it can be found in animal-based food sources such as meat, eggs, fish, and milk.

This makes it readily available for people’s daily diets. Methylcobalamin is the most active form of vitamin B12 and, for best results, should be combined with adenosylcobalamin.


Adenosylcobalamin, much like methylcobalamin, is a naturally occurring compound form of vitamin B12. Adenosylcobalamin works together with methylcobalamin to cover most of your vitamin B12 needs.

Adenosylcobalamin is a key component of the insulated layer that protects the nerve cells and enables them to respond quickly to stimuli.


Hydroxocobalamin is naturally produced by bacteria in the digestive tract when food sources are broken down. It can also be developed in a laboratory. Hydroxocobalamin in supplement form is only available with a prescription and is usually given as a B12 injection. When converted by the body into adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin, it is ready for the cells to absorb and use it.

Methylcobalamin vs. Cyanocobalamin

The two most common forms of vitamin B12 supplements you are likely to come across is cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Both can be converted into other forms of vitamin B12 when ingested.

People sometimes ask which of the two supplements is better – the artificial (cyanocobalamin) or naturally occurring (methylcobalamin). Studies have shown that cyanocobalamin is known to absorb slightly better within the body while methylcobalamin is considered to retain better and for longer. Both are excellent at providing nutritional value of vitamin B12 to the body.

The amount of daily vitamin B12 recommended is primarily based on age, although studies have shown that a person’s lifestyle such as vegans and vegetarians, tobacco users, and obesity are at a higher risk of developing a B12 deficiency.

Cyanocobalamin is the form of B12 most used in supplements because it is the cheapest, however, methylcobalamin is rapidly gaining popularity. Research has shown that vitamin B12 taken by mouth or as a muscular B12 injection is equally effective at restoring B12 levels in people with a deficiency.

If you are wondering which of the two vitamin B12 supplements is best for you, cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin, the answer is to contact a medical professional. Since there are many elements that can affect the body’s ability to ingest substances, it would be in your best interest to consult with your doctor.

Administering Vitamin B12

  • Orally can be taken in tablet, capsule, or liquid form ranging from 50 to 5,000 mcg. It is usually best to take whole on an empty stomach and can take a few weeks before someone’s vitamin B12 levels and symptoms start to improve.
  • Intramuscular injection is typically used on patients who do not produce enough stomach acid or if they have autoimmune atrophic gastritis. It requires a prescription where a doctor will inject the vitamin B12 shot into the muscle.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can increase the risk of neurological issues and adverse side effects. It can also lead to anemia. People who are anemic might experience soreness in the mouth or tongue, weight loss, diarrhea, and much more. An insufficient level of vitamin B12 can become too low to meet the demands of the body. Therefore, if left untreated may progress to irreversible neurological issues.

See also: What are the Side Effects of Vitamin B12 Shots?

Vitamin B12 is a substance required for effective human metabolism and overall health. If you think you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, contact Dr. Corwin A Thomas today to schedule an appointment to see if you are a candidate for B12 injections in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Thomas will also work with you to formulate the best course of a treatment plan to optimize your health.

Our staff is well-trained and highly qualified to handle a variety of medical needs that affect your heart. Our passion bleeds into their care.

Contact us today!