Methylcobalamin is a water based vitamin that circulates through the bloodstream and is one of two naturally-occurring coenzyme forms of vitamin B-12 that the body utilizes. Adenosylcobalamin is the other form sometimes used in the dietary supplement industry. The body needs B-12 to convert homocysteine to methionine, protect DNA and RNA, support energy, protect nerve and brain cells, stimulate serotonin production, contribute to red blood cell formation, support immune function, and maintain a positive mood.
What’s So Great About Methylcobalamin?
Hydroxocobalamin is the main B-12 form found in meat, fish, and dairy products. Cyanocobalamin is a common but synthetic B-12 that is often added to foods, and the body must use precious energy to convert this form into methylcobalamin. This B-12 form has a higher stability and bioavailability and doesn’t require conversion. These next 4 facts will explain the benefits of methylcobalamin.
Every chemical reaction in the body expends energy. When the body needs to convert a vitamin into a form the body can use, this reaction also requires energy. For example, supplementing with the cyanocobalamin form of B-12 requires the body to expend energy that removes the cyanide molecule and replaces it with a methyl group. Taking methylcobalamin as a B-12 supplement eliminates the need for this extra chemical reaction.
Methyl groups activate hundreds of chemical reactions throughout the body. One such process includes triggering detox reactions. This includes the removal of heavy metals, environmental toxins, and waste products.
Methylcobalamin is the only form of B-12 that can cross the blood-brain barrier without assistance or conversion. Its methyl group stimulates serotonin creation, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood support. It also works directly on brain cells to protect against damage from excitotoxins. Researchers have found large doses of methylcobalamin may offer therapeutic value for those suffering from ALS and multiple sclerosis.[2, 3] This is the only form of B-12 that acts on the nervous system.
High homocysteine levels is undesirable and known to be an indicator of heart disease and stroke risk. Free homocysteine in the blood causes sclerosis of the arteries, putting strain on the vascular system and the heart. One of the primary reactions of methylcobalamin is to convert homocysteine to methionine, reducing the potential for damage. Outcomes from this reaction include the formation of cysteine, a precursor to the super-antioxidant glutathione. Methionine also contributes to the formation of adenosylcobalamin, the other form of B12 used by the body in mitochondrial energy creation, the foundation for all human energy.
Hydroxocobalamin is the natural form of vitamin B12 and a member of the cobalamin family of compounds. Hydroxocobalamin, or another form of vitamin B12, are required for the body to make DNA. Foods that naturally contain vitamin B12 include meat, eggs, and dairy products. As a supplement it is used to treat vitamin B12 deficiency including pernicious anemia. Other uses include treatment for cyanide poisoning, Leber’s optic atrophy, and .toxic amblyopia.
Hydroxocobalamin was first isolated in 1949. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines rrossneeded in a health system. Hydroxocobalamin is available as a generic medication. Commercially it is made from one of a number of different types of bacteria.
Vitamin B 12 Deficiency:
For most, the standard therapy for treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency has been intramuscular (IM) injections in the form of cyanocobalamin (CNCbl) or hydroxocobalamin (OHCbl). Cyanocobalamin is traditionally prescribed in the United States. Outside of the United States, hydroxocobalamin is most generally used for vitamin B12 replacement therapy and is considered the “drug of choice” for vitamin B12 deficiency by the Martindale Extra Pharmacopoeia (Sweetman, 2002) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Drugs. This preference for hydroxocobalamin in many countries is due to its long retention in the body and the need for less-frequent IM/ Subcutaneous injections in restoring vitamin B12 (cobalamin) serum levels
1. Kikuchi M, Kashii S, Honda Y, et al. “Protective effects of methylcobalamin, a vitamin B12 analog, against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in retinal cell culture.” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1997 Apr;38(5): 848-54.
2. Izumi Y1, Kaji R. “Clinical trials of ultra-high-dose methylcobalamin in ALS.” Brain Nerve. 2007 Oct;59(10):1141-7.
3. Kira J1, Tobimatsu S, Goto I. “Vitamin B12 metabolism and massive-dose methyl vitamin B12 therapy in Japanese patients with multiple sclerosis.” Intern Med. 1994 Feb;33(2):82-6.