We all know that vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that our body needs. It’s involved with many processes like energy generation, brain and nerve functioning, blood cell production, and immune system functioning. In recent years, B12 vitamins have also been linked to an ability to promote weight loss

But while we know the different benefits of taking it, we may find ourselves confused on the different types of vitamin B12. This article will help you answer the most common questions that you have about the different types of this vitamin. 


Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 with a cyano group attached to it. The cyano group is composed of a small amount of cyanide. You may think that this is toxic to the human body after hearing the word cyanide. However, it’s important to note that the amount of cyanide is too little to cause harm to the body. Afterall, the FDA will not approve its release if it has ill effects. 

In terms of absorption rate, cyanocobalamin has the poorest performance of all the types of vitamin B12. This is probably the reason why it is also the cheapest among its rivals. Because of its absorption rate, some health practitioners may recommend other forms of vitamin B12 to their patients. 


Another commonly marketed type of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin. Like cyanocobalamin, it is ultimately reduced in the body to cobalamin. However, instead of a cyano group, this type of vitamin B12 has a methyl group attached to it.

Methylcobalamin is a bioactive form of vitamin B12 that the body can readily use. In contrast, cyanocobalamin needs to be converted into methylcobalamin first before it’s active. Because methylcobalamin is readily available for use by the cells, it is considered to be superior to cyanocobalamin. 

One study compared the rate of absorption of methylcobalamin with cyanocobalamin. The results show that with the same dose, there is more unused cyanocobalamin that is removed from the body versus methylcobalamin which is more readily absorbed. 

Inside the body, methylcobalamin helps in the normal metabolism of folate. It may be used for those with known vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to depression, psychological problems, nerve damage, dementia, visual problems, and anemia. For this reason, many people who take vitamin B12 see an improvement in their health after taking the supplement. 


The third type of vitamin B12 is the adenosylcobalamin. In simpler terms, it is the kick starter of all the B12 vitamins. It is involved with important processes in the nerves and the mitochondria, or the energy factory of the cell. 

Doctors and health specialists recommend its use to boost brain development, cellular energy, and muscle strength. It can be very helpful for patients experiencing chronic muscle fatigue, digestive disorders, and muscle weakness. 


Hydroxocobalamin contains a hydroxyl group instead of the methyl or cyano group of methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. It helps reduce the unwanted amount of nitric oxide in the body which, if not removed, can lead to a range of diseases. 

Compared to cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin helps detoxify the excess cyanide that is produced from smoking and polluted air. Hydroxocobalamin can therefore help protect against the ill effects of too many free radicals, which are known to cause oxidative stress. Hydroxocobalamin can also work hand in hand with glutathione to help fight against autoimmune diseases and chronic fatigue. 

Which type of vitamin B12 should you choose? 

While there is no consensus among health practitioners as to which type of vitamin B12 is the most effective or superior, one thing is for sure: the best type of vitamin B12 is the one that works best for you. Compared to cyanocobalamin, which may be poorly absorbed, the other three types of vitamin B12 may be better options.

Each form of vitamin B12 may have a different target or goal in the body. For example, if you want a boost in energy, adenosylcobalamin may be preferred. If you wish to remove free radicals, hydroxocobalamin may be the answer. If you want to have a boost in your mental performance, methylcobalamin may be the better choice. Cost and availability may also be additional factors in determining the right form of vitamin B12 to take. 

Bottom line

While vitamin B12 is normally found in a variety of food products, you may not be able to get enough of it to boost your overall health. Unless you are eating tons of fish or red meat, you may want to supplement with one of the different types of B12 vitamins. Ask your health care provider about the appropriate amount you need to take, and make sure to choose legitimate sellers to get the correct dose in each capsule, tablet, or injection.  

If you have further questions about the different types of vitamin B12, experts from Rocky Mountain Skin Care Clinic are available for support. Health practitioners are also available to recommend the appropriate form of vitamin B12 for you.