Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in many bodily functions. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many bodily functions. This vitamin can play a role in maintaining the nervous system healthy (study), DNA synthesis (study), and helping support red blood cell production (study).*
Vitamin B12 can be found in foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy, but it's also available in supplement forms, such as methylcobalamin. This form of vitamin B12 is often associated with better absorption (study).* It can be made synthetically, added to food products, or taken as a supplement.
Methylcobalamin as a form of vitamin B12
Methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin are two of the existing forms of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12 and is usually better absorbed by the body than cyanocobalamin (study).*
Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 that contains cyanide, which the body must convert into methylcobalamin before it can be used. Because of this and other factors, methylcobalamin is considered the superior form of vitamin B12.
Methylcobalamin and brain function
One of the most important roles of vitamin B12 is to support the nervous system (study).* This vitamin may help protect nerve cells from damage and plays a part in the production of myelin, a substance that helps insulate nerve cells (study).*
Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin may also provide support for cognitive function (study).* One small study showed that taking methylcobalamin improved mental speed and accuracy in people with cognitive impairment.* More studies need to be done regarding vitamin B12 and cognition, as the quantity and quality of data is still limited.
Methylcobalamin and red blood cell production
Vitamin B12 is also essential for red blood cell production (study).* Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Without enough vitamin B12, your body might not be able to produce enough healthy red blood cells, sometimes resulting to a condition called pernicious anemia (study).* Methylcobalamin may also be effective in treating other types of anemia.
Methylcobalamin and inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response that helps protect your body from infection and injury. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to some conditions. Some studies suggest that methylcobalamin may help reduce inflammation by affecting specific inflammatory markers for specific populations (study).*
Vitamin B12 deficiency
A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to a number of health problems. Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause fatigue (study), weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss.*
A study also found that vitamin B12 deficiency might cause megaloblastic anemia in some populations, a type of anemia characterized by large red blood cells that do not function properly (study).*
In addition, untreated vitamin B12 deficiency might lead to neurological problems, such as tingling in the hands and feet, balance problems, memory loss, and other cognitive challenges (study).*
Who may need vitamin B12 supplements?
Most people get enough vitamin B12 from their diet and do not need supplements. However, some people may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and may need supplements to prevent or treat deficiency.
These groups generally include vegetarians and vegans who do not eat animal products. It could also include some elderly people who have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12.
People with digestive disorders might also need, in some cases, vitamin B12, including those who had surgery to remove part of their stomach or intestine.* Talk with your doctor about vitamin B12 if this is your personal situation to know what they would recommend.
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient with many health benefits. Methylcobalamin is a form of vitamin B12 that's especially easy for the body to absorb.
This makes it a potential choice for people who might not be getting enough vitamin B12 through their diet or have a condition that makes it difficult to absorb this nutrient from food.
Read more about other vitamins B such as niacin - vitamin B3.
If you're thinking about taking methylcobalamin, talk to your doctor first to see if it's right for you. You can also read more about vitamin B complex.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a betaine supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.