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Which form of B12 is best?

Posted on March 19, 2018 at 12:35 AM


There are several different ways of supplementing with vitamin B12. The most popular choices include fortified foods, tablets and injections. To decide which is the best form for you, first you need to understand the different forms of B12.


1. Methylcobalamin

This is the most active form in the human body. It can cross the blood-brain barrier–without assistance to protect brain cells and contributes methyl groups needed for detoxification.


2. Cyanocobalamin

This is a synthetic version of vitamin B12 which is created in a lab. It is the cheapest supplement option and offers the most stable form of B12. This form contains a cyanide molecule and while the amount is not dangerous, it does require the body to expend energy to convert and remove it. This form has also been liked to acne breakouts in a number of studies.


3. Hydroxocobalamin

This form is naturally created by bacteria, making it the main type found in foods. It easily converts into methylcobalamin in the body.


4. Adenosylcobalamin

The energy formation that occurs during the Citric Acid cycle requires this form of B12. Although naturally occurring, it is the least stable of the four types of B12 outside the human body and does not translate well into a tablet-based supplement and can thus be difficult to find in supplement form.


In addition to the 4 different types of B12 which exist, there are also several different modes of transport. For example, tablet form, sublingual drops, skin patches and injections.


1. Tablets or pills

These are easy to find and often inexpensive. However if you have gastrointestinal problems (gastric surgery, crohn’s disease, etc) they are of little value since the orally taken B12 won’t be absorbed.


The maximum amount of intrinsic factor production will only help you absorb around 10 mcg even if the ingested dose is 500 mcg. So if you want to take in high doses of B12, forget about ingestible tablets.


2. Sprays or sublingual drops

Sublingual (under the tongue) drops and oral spray forms of vitamin B12 are both absorbed by the blood vessels in the mouth. These are often better options for those with gastrointestinal problems as it bypasses digestion.


3. Skin Patches

Patches are extremely easy to use. You can wear the patch once a week and it usually only needs to be worn for 24 hours. It is very cost effective as you only have to wear it once a week and you can easily order it online. Some mild skin reactions have been reported but these are rare and usually only miner irritations.


4. Injections

Injections are another good option because it does not depend on intrinsic factor for absorption and high doses go straight into the blood stream. The disadvantage is that B12 injections can cause pain where injected and require a trip to the doctors for administration.


Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which is the best form of B12 for your body. If you have been recently diagnosed with a B12 deficiency consult an accredited nutritionist who can help guide you through the process of selecting the best supplements for your body and incorporating fortified foods into your diet.


To book an appointment email [email protected]esnutrition.com 


Jessica Bayes BHSc NutMed (Honours) ANTA

Clinical Nutritionist, Wellness Coach, Skin Therapist




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