Difference Between Vitamin b12 Methyl cobalamin and Vitamin b12 Cyanocobalamin

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

Difference Between Vitamin b12 Methyl cobalamin and Vitamin b12 Cyanocobalamin

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a chemical substance, also called cobalamin. It is one of the essential water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin B12 or cobalamin was first discovered by George while. Due to the presence of cobalt, it has a deep color crystal or solution. It plays a significant role in the production of red blood cells, RBCs, and DNA. It is also required for the proper functioning of the nervous system. The human body can store vitamin B12 for up to four years, and unwanted vitamin residue is excreted readily in the urine due to its hydrophilic nature. Vitamin B12 present naturally in meat products and can only be synthesized by the bacterial fermentation process. There are four different types of vitamins, having different shades of cobalt.

Types of vitamins:

  1. Cyanocobalamin.
  2. Methylcobalamin.
  3. Hydroxocobalamin.
  4. Adenosylcobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin are the two most frequently used vitamin B12 supplements.


It is naturally present in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Some cereals and types of soya milk are also fortified with Vitamin B12.

It is not independently synthesized by any plant or animal because of the absence of enzymes required for its bio generation.

Health benefits:

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. It helps to regulate DNA synthesis. It is also involved in the formation of red blood corpuscles. The metabolism inside every cell of the human body depends on vitamin B12. It promotes the absorption of folic acid. It also plays a part in the synthesis of fatty acid and energy production.


A slightly lower than normal levels of vitamin B12 can cause deficiency symptoms, like a Memory problem, depression, and fatigue. The other symptomatic condition may also include loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia.


Cyanocobalamin is the synthetic form of vitamin B12. It is used for the prevention and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency. It is also prescribed after surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestine, to assure sufficient levels of Vitamin B12. Cyanocobamide is used to perform a schilling test to examine the quality of absorbed vitamins. It can be used by mouth, injectable, and as a nasal spray form. It is considered as cost-effective than other forms of vitamins. The cyanocobalamin is entered into the body and metabolized into adenosylcobalamin or methylcobalamin. These both are the active component of vitamin B12 in animals and humans.


Methylcobalamin is the naturally occurring vitamin12, can be obtained from synthetic supplements or food sources like milk, egg, fish, and meat. It retains for longer periods of time in your tissues than synthetic cobalamin. In methylcobalamin cyano of the cobalamin is replace by the methyl group. It is obtained as bright red crystals. They have considerable benefits in the nervous system including synthesis of neuronal lipids, revitalization of axonal nerve, and has unique neuroprotective activity. It is used to synergize the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Dementia, and other neuropathic syndromes. Methylcobalamin is also commonly prescribed for diabetes associate neuropathy. They are provided in the dose of 1500mg/ day for 2-3 months to overcome the deficiency.

Difference between Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin:

Cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin both are very identical in their structure containing a cobalt ion surrounded by corrin ring molecule. Methylcobalamin contains a methyl group attached to cobalt ion. Cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide group attached to the cobalt ion. Some researches recommended that Vitamin B12 deficiency should be treated either by Cyanocobalamin or a combination of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.

Natural vs. Synthetic:

Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic kind of cobalamin or vitamin B12, that is not found naturally. It is obtained more frequently as a supplement because it considers as a more stable and cost-effective form of vitamin B12 than other forms. When it is entered into the body it is metabolized and converted into methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin.

Methylcobalamin is a biological form of vitamin B12. It can be obtained through supplements or from natural food sources like fish, eggs, meat, and milk.

Absorption and Retention capability:

The major distinction between cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin is the way they are absorbed and retained in the body tissues. According to recent researches, they suggest that cyanocobalamin absorbs slightly better than methylcobalamin. A study was conducted that conclude, the human body absorbs more cyanocobalamin than methylcobalamin if provided in the same dose. This indicated that methylcobalamin may be retained better in your body. But this variation between absorption and retention is minimal.

Metabolism and their derivatives:

When you take cyanocobalamin supplements, after metabolism it is converted to the other kinds of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin, both are bioactive molecule and slightly different from the molecule of cyanocobalamin. Both cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin are converted to different other forms of cobalamin within the body. Methylcobalamin should be combined with adenosylcobalamin for better results.

Importance in the nervous system:

Methylcobalamin is a particular form of vitamin B12, requires for the nervous system health. It is an important nutrient for vision. Methylcobalamin enhances and improves vision while Cyanocobalamin has shown ineffective for this action.


Eto, I., & Krumdieck, C. L. (1986). Role of vitamin B 12 and folate deficiencies in carcinogenesis. In Essential nutrients in carcinogenesis (pp. 313-330). Springer, Boston, MA.

Kapadia, C. R. (1995). Vitamin B12 in health and disease: part I--inherited disorders of function, absorption, and transport. The Gastroenterologist3(4), 329.

Oh, R., & Brown, D. L. (2003). Vitamin B12 deficiency. American family physician67(5), 979-986.

Okuda, K., Yashima, K., Kitazaki, T., & Takara, I. (1973). Intestinal absorption and concurrent chemical changes of methylcobalamin. The Journal of laboratory and clinical medicine81(4), 557-567.

Thakkar, K., & Billa, G. (2015). Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency–Methylcobalamine? Cyancobalamine? Hydroxocobalamin?—clearing the confusion. European journal of clinical nutrition69(1), 1-2.

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