I recently received a question from a concerned reader about vitamin B12. She asked if the form of B12 called cyanobalamin is less healthy than methylcobalamin.
It’s a great question.
A lot of people see the “cyan” prefix and assume it has something to do with cyanide. And yes, a trace amount of cyanide is used during the processing of cyanocobalamin. But this small trace poses no danger. And it can actually have a positive metabolic effect through a technical process called “hormesis.” In fact, many seeds, nuts and the pits of fruits have trace amounts of arsenic or cyanide. It protects them from damage by small predator microbes and insects as a natural “pesticide.”
So, cyanobalamin is completely safe. And no less healthy than methylcobalamin. In fact, cyanobalamin is the most commonly used form of B12 for many reasons.
Both forms belong to the all-important B vitamin family. Supplement manufacturers typically combine them with other micronutrients, especially others in the B vitamin family.
Once it is in the body, cyanocobalamin converts into the physiologic forms methylcobalamin and adenosincobalamin (bound with a nucleic acid). However, outside the body methylcobalamin can be chemically “unstable.” We use cyanocobalamin because it is much more stable before it gets into the body.
What does it mean if a micronutrient is “unstable”?
It means the micronutrient can break down before you can get it into your body. So you don’t know what (if any) potency is left. And you don’t know if potentially dangerous byproducts are present.
Obviously, this feature is important for any micronutrient. Especially during manufacturing and shipping. You only want to take stable micronutrients that stay fresh, safe and potent on your shelf.
Cyanocobalamin is used in many pharmaceutical preparations. And I always favor pharmaceutical-grade ingredients when they are available.
While we are concerned about the safety and effectiveness of most of the new drugs that are brought out by the pharmaceutical industry, the actual quality-control standards for the pharmaceutical industry are far superior technically to the wild west of most of the dietary supplement manufacturers and marketers.
Of course, you will find 20 mcg of cyanocobalamin (B12) in Core Brilliance, my “genius” answer for unrivaled brain protection. And you can rest assured it’s perfectly safe. And it will help keep your memory sharp and keep “brain sludge” in check. You will also find 20 micrograms in CoreCell Essentials, my multivitamin that promotes whole-body vitality. Taken together, these two supplements provide 667 percent of the RDA for vitamin B12. And that’s a healthy dose for everyone.