Do You Have Enough Methylcobalamin?
Vitamin B12 is a critical vitamin for basic bodily functions. If you want to learn more about B vitamins and their roles in the body, check out our article here. In this article, we will explore vitamin B12 supplements specifically more in-depth.
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Vitamin B12 is derived through either cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. If these words aren’t familiar to you- don’t worry. The easy way to differentiate the two is that cyanocobalamin is the synthetic derivative of B12 while methylcobalamin is naturally occurring.
B12 supplements contain cyanocobalamin more often than they do methylcobalamin since it is a more stable way to contain and deliver B12. Cyanocobalamin is also more cost effective than its methylcobalamin counterpart.
If most supplements use cyanocobalamin, where do we get methylcobalamin? Methylcobalamin is typically ingested through foods such as meat, eggs, and milk; but methylcobalamin supplements exist as well!
Another differentiating point between methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin is how they’re absorbed and retained in the body. The studies between which form of the vitamin promises optimal health seems to differ depending on the health professional.
- For example, some studies suggest that cyanocobalamin is better than methylcobalamin considering the body absorbs it better. One study concluded that our bodies absorbed 49% of a dose of cyanocobalamin, compared to 44% of the same dose of methylcobalamin.
- However, another study concluded that methylcobalamin might be better for you in comparison to cyanocobalamin since the body excretes about three times as much cyanocobalamin through urine. Methylcobalamin also contains the methyl-compound which is needed for nervous system health and maintaining proper vision. Scientists are also currently conducting experiments to see if methylcobalamin is linked to the synthesis of melatonin.
- A third study even indicated that the battle between methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin depends on a person’s age and unique genetics.
In conclusion, while we might be conditioned to think that synthetic derivatives have a poor connotation, the truth is that methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin cannot be described in blanket statements such as which one is universally best. It depends on your personal biology! Each compound has its pros and cons, and many of the cons can be remedied through other means (such as taking a melatonin supplement to help you sleep with your cyanocobalamin B12 vitamin). If possible, it might be a good idea to take different forms of B12 in a day to make sure your body is obtaining its preferred method of B12. This could look like taking a daily multivitamin that contains a percentage of cyanocobalamin B12 and drinking some milk with your breakfast to get some methylcobalamin. When it comes to nervous system health, it’s better to be safe than sorry!