What Form of Vitamin B12 are You Taking? 4 Tips You Need to Know

Vitamin B12

What’s the best type of B12?

What kind of vitamin B12 are you taking? Cyanocobalamin is the most common form, but it’s also the worst form.

This is a great way to tell if your multivitamin is a good quality product or a piece of worthless junk. If your B12 is in the cyanocobalamin form (you’ll likely have to look at the actual ingredient list) you might as well just toss it in the garbage because the forms of the all the other vitamins are likely low quality as well.

The methylcobalamin form is the preferred form of vitamin B12 for the brain and this is the form I’ve typically recommended in my blog posts. In our office, I have always recommended Biotics’ brand B12 2000 which has the hydroxycobalamin form. But I’ve never really given much thought to why Biotics uses this form instead of the methylcobalamin until my education was expanded.

Dr. Harry Eidenier from DSD International sent out a communication that detailed why Biotics uses the hydroxycobalamin form. It turns out that the methyl from the methylcobalamin form has a tendency to bind up with mercury. And this information was discovered way back in the 70s and you can read about it in this particular study.

“But I don’t suck on mercury thermometers, doc,” you think to yourself.

Got any amalgam fillings? Mercury containing fillings are constantly giving off mercury vapor which can bind to the methyl in the methylcobalamin, creating methylmercury.

Methylmercury is a much more potent and absorbable form of mercury in mammals. If you have any concerns about the health of your brain, avoiding methylmercury is a good idea.

While we’re on the topic of vitamin B12, here’s a few additional tips:

  1. As mentioned, if you’ve got amalgam fillings, stick with the hydroxycobalamin form.
  2. If you’re getting injections, the cyanocobalamin form should NOT be used. The other two forms are acceptable.
  3. Although the RDA is around 15 mcg, a decent dose is closer to 2,000 mcg. It can take a very high dose to bypass poor absorption. Bad absorption occurs with older age (the region of the stomach that makes intrinsic factor needed to absorb B12 wears away with age). Stress and gastric bypass also affects absorption.
  4. I have never recommended sublingual forms. B12 is not absorbed in the mouth so holding it under your tongue does not help absorption.

Vitamin B12 is an important part of good health. Normally we get B12 from animal products, but the bacteria in the gut also produces B12. Of course, if you’ve had antibiotics you’ve likely blown this source of B12. A good quality multivitamin is likely to have a good level of vitamin B12, but if you’ve got a problem with absorption listed in #3 above, you’re going to need to be on a B12 vitamin. The brand (Biotics) that I recommend has B12, folic acid and B6—a very good combination.


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.