If you are looking to supplement your vitamin B12, you will find many products to choose from. To make the choice easier I will explain how these supplements differ so you can get the best vitamin B12 supplement for yourself.
What Supplements you can choose from
You can get vitamin B12 in different forms. Not only in shape and structure like in pill- melting tablet- or liquid form but different in chemical forms too.
The shape form is the less important to focus on. But if I would choose one, I would take a liquid one, because digestion starts already in the mouth and it doesn’t have so many other ingredients like the melting tablet.
The main focus should be on the chemical form of B12 and there are mainly 4 to choose from. We have cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
Three of those are occurring naturally in the body and in food. Cyanocobalamin compared to the other three is synthetic.
Hydroxocobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are higher available in meat products. Methylcobalamin is higher available in milk products. There are more forms of B12 (Cobalamin) that are usually not present in food but are produced through conversion in the body.
What are the differences in these Vitamin B12 Forms
The major difference between these four B12 forms is that only two of them are bioactive and can be used by your body. That doesn’t mean that the other two are useless but need to be converted by the body into active forms first.
To give you an understanding of the converting process look at the infographic below.
As you can see the cyanocobalamin needs up to four conversion processes and the hydroxocobalamin up to three to produce the bioactive coenzymes methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
Methylcobalamin can be converted to adenosylcobalamin but not the other way around.
What is the best Vitamin B 12 Supplement
The synthetic cyanocobalamin has the negative effect of leaving cyanide during the conversion in the body. Cyanide is a toxic substance that has damaging effects in the body. It was used during world war 1 and 2 because of that.
So it is already clear which vitamin B12 form you better avoid.
The only positive thing about it is, that it is very cheap to produce and thus cheaper to buy.
Hydroxocobalamin has the positive effect to stay the longest in your bloodstream as a deposit. Another positive effect is its ability to detox the mentioned cyanide as well as nitric oxide. Cyanide is usually accumulated in the body through smoking. Too much nitric oxide can cause migraines.
The downside is that during conversion from Cob(II)alamin, S-Adenosyl methionine (in short SAM or AdoMet) is used to produce methylcobalamin.
S-Adenosyl methionine is a cosubstrate that has shown in studies to have:
- the same positive effects on depression like regular anti depressions
- similar positive effects on colon cancer like chemotherapy
- pain relief in osteoarthritis patients due to probably anti-inflammatory effects
- benefits for liver health, where it is produced and used in the body.
You can read more about it on www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
To avoid SAM being used up in your body, a reduced intake of hydroxocobalamin would be beneficial.
The best vitamin B12 supplement suitable for vegans I would recommend you to take, would be a mixture of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. This helps your body to get the two important coenzymes it needs without converting them and using up your body's resources.
Hydroxocobalamin can be considered as well for detox reasons. Because of its long durability in the body, compared with the two coenzyme forms, it won’t be necessary to take it on a regular basis.
Some people have a missing gene to convert the cob(I)alamin into methylcobalamin what seems to cause side effects. In case you realize side effects you should focus on getting your B12 from hydroxocobalamin, if you already know that you have a problem with methylcobalamin.
Don’t hesitate to share your experience or questions about the mysterious vitamin B12. You might help someone or can get new insights. You can read about my experience here.