Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that participates in crucial metabolic processes in the body. The prevalence of B12 deficiency varies in the population ranging from about 10 to 40%. Lack of this critical nutrient can result in grave health consequences. There are many purported uses of B12 in addition to health maintenance, ranging from diet, energy, and exercise adjunct to mood and sleep aid with different efficacy. B12 can be supplemented via three primary methods, orally with food and nutrient fortification, intravenously thru vitamin drips such as the Myer’s cocktail, and intramuscularly with popular B12 shots. The background of B12 significance and deficiency has been previously explored in another article. This document will focus on the types of B12 supplements available, typical therapy costs, and how they compare.
B12, also known as cobalamin, naturally exists in the body in the form of Methylcobalamin. This active form of B12 works with several enzymes to synthetize amino acids, produce red blood cells, repair DNA, and assists with other important physiologic processes.
$$$ – Commonly found in injections and oral supplements
This is another intrinsic form of B12 required for energy metabolism present in every cell. Even though this and methylcobalamin are listed as distinct forms of B12, it should be noted that the body can interconvert between the two compounds.
N/A – Difficult to find due to instability of molecule
A natural type of B12 normally produced by bacteria in the digestive tract from food sources. This form of supplemental B12 can also be engineered in the laboratory by isolating it from micro-organism cultures. Hydroxy-B12 is readily converted in the body into the active forms of Adenosylcobalamin and Methylcobalamin.
$$ – Generic form of injectable B12 shots
An artificial form of B12 that contains a cyanide molecule that provides its stability and prevalence of use. Cyanide is commonly referred to as a poison because it interacts with and disrupts the energy pathways in the cells. The amount of cyanide in Cyanocobalamin is inconsequential to cause harm, has been demonstrated not to cause toxicity, and approved by the FDA for use. Cyanocobalamin is also easily converted by the body into its active form.
$ – Most prevalent form of oral, intramuscular and IV B12 supplement
With so many types of B12 to choose from, is there a benefit of one over another? Since the various types of B12 are easily interconverted between the different forms, does it matter what type is used? These are questions frequently asked.
A study published in 1971 in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology compared the 4 types of B12s and suggests no significant difference in the retention rates after oral supplementation at 1, 5 and 25 mcg doses. Another study published in the European Journal of Hematology in 1964 suggests that hydroxycobalamin has a higher retention rate compared to cyanocobalamin when administered as an intramuscular injection.
There is no consensus in the medical community regarding a superior form of B12 and available data can be interpreted in different ways. Some users attest to dramatic distinctions between the formulations where as others don’t notice any dissimilarities. The important thing to note is that B12 fortification is safe. Every individual is unique and should find a solution that is most suitable for and consistent with their goals especially when the formulations can have a wide range of price tags.
As more and more IV medspas and doctor’s offices start to offer wellness therapies such as B12 IVs, CoQ10 shots, and Glutathione therapies it is important for the consumer to be well educated about these types of services so that they can make a well informed decision. REVIV is the leading global provider of wellness. We offer various nutrient IVs and injections for a variety of needs. Our goal is to help our clients look and feel their best and to create a healthy and more productive society.