Methylcobalamin vs cyanocobalamin

Demystifying Vitamin B12: Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin- Which Reigns Supreme?

Article Highlights
  • ⭐ Your body converts all forms of vitamin B12 into methylcobalamin, the most bioavailable form of vitamin B12.
  • ⭐ Methylcobalamin protects neurons and myelin sheath, enhances neuronal activity, and inhibits ectopic firing of nerve signals. It also regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
  • ⭐ Sublingual route of vitamin B12 is preferred over other routes as it bypasses first-pass metabolism and directly absorbs into the bloodstream.

Have you been feeling weighed down by fatigue and sluggish lately? Occasional fatigue and weakness are not something to get concerned about, but if you're constantly feeling the same, the reason might be vitamin B12 deficiency. While discussing Vitamin B12 supplementation, you come across two primary contenders, methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Apparently, it is assumed that methylcobalamin is active and bioavailable B12; is it true? Let's break the mold; Methylcobalamin Vs Cyanocobalamin, which is better? What is the difference between b12 methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin? What does vitamin B12 supplement do?

Here is a comprehensive guide to B12 methylcobalamin vs cyanocobalamin to answer all these questions!

vitamin b12 and sleep

What is Methylcobalamin - A dynamic form of Vitamin B12

Methylcobalamin is an active form of vitamin B12 that contains a methyl group (carbon and hydrogen). It is a naturally occurring form of a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B12. It plays a critical role in the synthesis of your DNA and the formation of your red blood cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to tissues. Our body needs an intrinsic factor (IF) to absorb methylcobalamin in the distal ileum (small intestine).

Methylcobalamin is a bioavailable or the most absorbable form of vitamin B12 that maintains the integrity of the myelin sheath around the nerves. Myelin sheath is a fatty layer that insulates the nerves and regulates the conduction of nerve signals. This highly bioavailable B12 helps in the synthesis of methionine and hydroxy methionine to protect myelin sheath, form red blood cells, and synthesize DNA and RNA. Moreover, methylcobalamin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, also called your body's circadian rhythm.[4][6]

What is Cyanocobalamin? An Intriguing Form of Vitamin B12

In contrast to methylcobalamin, Cyanocobalamin is a man-made cobalamin form containing a cyanide ring. It doesn't exist naturally. You mostly take cyanocobalamin in the form of nutritional supplements or fortified foods. It is a cobalt complex belonging to the class of "corrinoids''.

This synthetic form of Vitamin B12 is converted into an active form of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin, in your body to perform multiple functions.

Cyanocobalamin breaks down into cyanide and cobalamin. Cyanide in vitamin B12 or cobalamin is excreted through urine. Your mind might beg the question, can cyanide in B12 cause toxicity? The answer is it rarely causes cyanide toxicity because it produces extremely low amounts of cyanide that doesn't cause much harm to your body. Additionally, it is quickly excreted in the urine and doesn't stay longer in your body.

Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin - Let's Decode the Difference!

While cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin are two different forms of Vitamin B12, there are major differences between both. Talking about the occurrence, methylcobalamin occurs naturally, and cyanocobalamin does not. Cyanocobalamin is man-made vitamin B12 that is synthesized artificially. In contrast, you can get methylcobalamin from natural food sources like beef, milk, dairy products, and eggs.

methylcobalamin food sources

Both have a cobalt ion, but methylcobalamin contains a methyl group, while cyanocobalamin has a cyanide ring attached to one side of the cobalt ion. Cyanocobalamin depends on the cyanide group to convert it into an active or bioavailable form of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin relies on an intrinsic factor (IF, a glycoprotein produced by the stomach) for its absorption in the small intestine.

Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin - What's the superior choice?

Talking about vit B12 cyanocobalamin vs methylcobalamin, methylcobalamin takes the forefront, and cobalamin assumes a back seat!

You may wonder why vitamin B12 methylcobalamin is better than cyanocobalamin. Well, it's imperative to take bioavailability into account first. Methylcobalamin has a higher bioavailability and is readily absorbed compared to cyanocobalamin. [2] Methylcobalamin provides your body with more cobalamin and stays longer.

methylcobalamin vs cyanocobalamin which is better

For better understanding, imagine the small intestine as an event where the "methylcobalamin" dress code is allowed. Methylcobalamin has got a VIP pass. It can enter the small intestine readily and stay longer than others. While all other forms of cobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin need to change their dress to get entry. Cyanocobalamin transforms to dress up like methylcobalamin with the help of a skilled tailor, cyanide. This way, methylcobalamin is readily absorbed, and cyanocobalamin needs some time to transform into methylcobalamin. Finally, cyanocobalamin is excreted three times earlier than methylcobalamin.

Why is methylcobalamin an Exceptional Health Supplement?

While comparing methylcobalamin vs cyanocobalamin, you may wonder what makes methylcobalamin superior to cyanocobalamin. Let's break the ice!

Cyanocobalamin is not a part of human physiology, while methylcobalamin is a natural component of your body's physiology. It relies on cyanide for its activation and usage. In comparison, methylcobalamin can be used directly as it is an active form of vitamin B12.

Methylcobalamin has a higher retention rate and stays longer in your body compared to cyanocobalamin. According to clinical research studies, urinary excretion of cyanocobalamin is 3 times higher than methylcobalamin. It indicates that methylcobalamin isn't readily excreted from your body.

According to a research study, methylcobalamin supplementation stores 13% more cobalamin in the liver compared to cyanocobalamin supplementation. [3]

The following are a few health benefits of vitamin B12 or cobalamin:

1. Immediate Effectiveness:

As you know, methylcobalamin is actively and readily absorbed into the bloodstream, let's reflect on its effectiveness:

Vitamin B12 is a source of methionine. It interacts with an activated form of folate and converts homocysteine to methionine. Methionine plays a critical role in synthesis of nucleotides and proliferation and differentiation of cells that form red blood cells. This way, vitamin B12 improves pallor and cardiovascular health.

Additionally, Vitamin B12 enhances energy production in the body by oxidizing fatty acids. It breaks down amino acids and produces energy. [7]

⭐ A significant proportion of vegetarians tend to have vitamin B12 deficiency that leads to sluggishness, numbness in extremities, and fatigue. If you're feeling so, Wellabs Vitamin B12 Liquid Drops may help you!

the image of Wellabs Vitamin B12 Liquid Drops

Vitamin B12 drops are third-party tested B12 supplements that contain bioavailable form of B12, methylcobalamin. These drops possess neither scent nor flavor. B12 sublingual liquid drops are packed with methylcobalamin. Each serving size of 1 dropper (1ml) provides 5000 mcg of methylcobalamin. It may help improve vitamin B12 levels in your body.

2. Influence on Neural Activity

Research suggests that methylcobalamin is critical for the growth and protection of the fatty layer (myelin sheath) around nerves that improves nerve signal conduction. It also regenerates and regrows damaged nerves, enhancing neuronal activity. Moreover, Methylcobalamin acts as a coenzyme in folate metabolism and helps synthesize nucleotides (DNA and RNA). It scavenges free radicals (especially superoxide radicals) to protect neurons from their damaging effects.[8]

In addition, methylcobalamin is involved in methylation reactions that are essential for optimal biochemical functions of the body. It also regulates gene expression and synthesis of certain neurotransmitters to support the nervous system.

3. Impact on Peripheral Nerve Disorders

Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with demyelination of nerves in both the central and peripheral nervous system. It leads to loss of sensation, peripheral nerve disorders like neuropathy, and weakness of extremities. Do you know why it happens? Let's explain it.

A deficiency of methylcobalamin disrupts the transfer of methyl group to myelin proteins. It leads to peripheral nerve disorders but these are reversible at early stages. Methylcobalamin can cross the blood-brain barrier to rectify disrupted metabolism.[9]

Damaged nerves outside the central nervous system cause peripheral neuropathy. This condition causes numbness, weakness, and pain. Vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin prevents worsening and progression of symptoms.

4. Contribution to Homocysteine Metabolism:

Besides peripheral nerve disorders, deficiency of vitamin B12 is linked with high homocysteine levels in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disorders. Methylcobalamin supplementation helps with remethylation of homocysteine and normalizes homocysteine levels in the blood.

Other forms of Vitamin B12 cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin are converted to active form methylcobalamin before entering the bloodstream for remethylation of homocysteine to methionine. This conversion is critical for folate synthesis.

5. Absorption Efficiency

Methylcobalamin has higher absorption efficiency compared to cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin as it is already in its activated form. Intrinsic factor (IF) allows the absorption of methylcobalamin in the small intestine.
After absorption, methylcobalamin binds to transcobalamin II, distributed to all tissues of the body, and stored in the liver. [9]

The absorption efficiency of methylcobalamin also depends on the route of administration. The intramuscular route has the highest bioavailability, but the sublingual route has more advantages. Sublingual administration of methylcobalamin bypasses the first-pass metabolism, and methylcobalamin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. This route of administration is painless and cheaper compared to the intramuscular route.

the image of Wellabs Vitamin B12 Liquid Drops
Wellabs Vitamin B12 Liquid Drops are rich in methylcobalamin, the best absorbing B12. It is absorbed sublingually. When you place them under your tongue, they quickly diffuse into your bloodstream, bypassing the first-pass metabolism. These are easily digestible and free of soy, sugar, gluten, and dairy products. You can add these drops to smoothies or other beverages for a better taste.


In closing, vitamin B12 is critical for vital functions of the body, including DNA and RNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and protection of the nervous system. Analyzing methylcobalamin vs cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin is an activated and naturally occurring form of vitamin B12. It has higher bioavailability and retention rate. Other forms of Vitamin B12 are converted to methylcobalamin first in the body to perform different functions. If you or your loved ones are suffering from low energy, fatiguability, lethargy, insomnia, and pallor, Vitamin B12 drops may help you. In case of any adverse effects, stop consuming vitamin B12 supplements and consult your doctor.


  1. Which B12 is cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin?

    Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12, and methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring vitamin B12. You get cyanocobalamin from nutritional supplements and fortified foods, while methylcobalamin is found in natural foods like eggs, dairy products, meat, and fish. You can get vitamin B12 or cobalamin from both cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.

  2. Who should not take methylcobalamin?

    People allergic to vitamin B12 should not take methylcobalamin supplementation. If you have an existing kidney or liver problem, metabolism disorders like diabetes, eye problems, hereditary blood disorders, bone marrow suppression, hypersensitivity, joint health problems, folic acid deficiency, and low blood potassium levels, consult your doctor before taking methylcobalamin or vitamin B12 supplementation.

  3. What is the difference between B12 and B12 methylcobalamin?

    Vitamin B12 has four forms. Methylcobalamin is an active form of vitamin B12, but there is a structural difference between B12 and B12 methylcobalamin. In B12 methylcobalamin, there is an attached methyl functional group (carbon and hydrogen). In comparison, the adenosyl functional group is attached to the metal ion (cobalt ion) in vitamin B12.

  4. Which form of B12 is best for neuropathy?

    Methylcobalamin is the best form of vitamin B12 neuropathy. It plays a critical role in regenerating neurons, protecting myelin sheath (a fatty substance around nerves), synthesizing DNA, and healing injured nerves. It improves nerve conduction in patients with neuropathy, which in turn improves nerve functions.[4]

  5. How can I maximize my B12 absorption?

    Methylcobalamin absorption depends on folate levels and intrinsic factor. A balanced and healthy gut environment maintains the level of intrinsic factor. Absorption of vitamin B12 also depends on the route of administration. Intramuscular injections have higher bioavailability. Moreover, a few medications, gut health problems, acid reflux, and other stomach problems also affect the absorption of vitamin B12.

  6. Which is better, hydroxocobalamin or methylcobalamin B12?

    A comprehensive review of current research studies indicates that claims like supplementation with hydroxocobalamin yield a low amount of methylating metabolites are not scientifically substantiated. But in comparison, methylcobalamin performs better in transcellular methylation reactions compared to hydroxocobalamin. Considering absorption, bioavailability, retention rate, and natural occurrence, methylcobalamin supplementation may be a better choice compared to the other three forms of vitamin B12.[5]

  7. Is hydroxocobalamin the same as cobalamin?

    Hydroxocobalamin is a form of cobalamin. Cobalamin, or vitamin B12, exists in three forms, methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and cyanocobalamin. Cobalamin has an adenosyl ligand attached to the cobalt ion, while hydroxocobalamin has a hydroxyl group attached to it. Hydroxocobalamin is a man-made or artificial form of vitamin B12 or cobalamin.

  8. Does B12 cyanocobalamin cause acne?

    Long-term supplementation with cyanocobalamin can cause acne. According to research, Vitamin B12 supplementation enhances porphyrin levels that induce inflammation leading to acne. It alters molecular metabolism in skin microbiota that justifies acne development after B12 supplementation. Additionally, the development of acne depends on individual immune response, the use of medications, and existing health problems.[6]

  9. Is acne a side effect of cyanocobalamin?

    Long-term and excessive use of cyanocobalamin may cause acne in a few individuals. Cyanocobalamin alters the metabolism of bacteria (P. Acnes) associated with the development of acne, which justifies this theory. It may cause acne breakouts in a few individuals, especially those allergic to vitamin B12, or worsen existing acne. Individual response to cyanocobalamin supplementation may vary.[6]

  10. What is the difference between Methycobal and cobalamin?

    Methycobal or methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring form of cobalamin or vitamin B12. Both have approximately identical structures (a Corrin ring and cobalt ion) except for an attached group. Methylcobalamin has a methyl (carbon and hydrogen) group attached to the cobalt ion, while cobalamin has an adenosyl ligand. Our body absorbs cobalamin in the form of methylcobalamin.


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  3. Okuda K, Yashima K, Kitazaki T, Takara I, (). Intestinal absorption and concurrent chemical changes of methylcobalamin. J Lab Clin Med. 1973;81(4):557-567

  4. Zhang M, Han W, Hu S, Xu H, (). Methylcobalamin: a potential vitamin of pain killer. Neural Plast. 2013;2013:424651. doi:10.1155/2013/424651

  5. Paul C, Brady DM, (). Comparative Bioavailability and Utilization of Particular Forms of B12 Supplements With Potential to Mitigate B12-related Genetic Polymorphisms. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017;16(1):42-49

  6. Kang D, Shi B, Erfe MC, Craft N, Li H, (). Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis. Sci Transl Med. 2015;7(293):293ra103. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aab2009

  7. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A, (). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):228. Published 2020 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu12010228

  8. Wu F, Xu K, Liu L, et al, (). Vitamin B12 Enhances Nerve Repair and Improves Functional Recovery After Traumatic Brain Injury by Inhibiting ER Stress-Induced Neuron Injury [published correction appears in Front Pharmacol. 2021 Apr 12;12:598335]. Front Pharmacol. 2019;10:406. Published 2019 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.00406

  9. N/A, (). Vitamin B12 - Health Professional Fact Sheet Accessed July 18, 2023