Vitamin B12 is one of the most important B vitamins for those who train. Also called “cobalamin,” because it contains the metal cobalt, vitamin B12 helps the body use dietary fats and certain amino acids. In fact, without B12, your body would be less efficient at creating energy from fat and protein, which means the body resorts to storing more nutrients as body fat. Vitamin B12 also helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells – both important components for exercise.
If you’ve done any online research on vitamin B12 supplements, then you may be worried about the use of the cyanocobalamin form of vitamin B12 in my Vita JYM multivitamin and mineral supplement. After all, there are many “experts”out there warning you about the dangers of cyanocobalamin, which contains the deadly poison cyanide. However, if you truly know me and my dedication to bringing you the safest and most effective supplements on the market, then you know that I must have a very good reason for including cyanide in my vitamin supplement.
The 500 mcg (microgram) dose of vitamin B12 in Vita JYM as cyanocobalamin provides you about 10 mcg of cyanide. Sounds deadly, doesn’t it? Far from it. This amount is physiologically insignificant. In fact, you actually consume far more cyanide in your daily diet. And no, it’s not added in the manufacturing process of processed foods. Cyanide occurs naturally in many plants — fruits and vegetables! The average human consumes about 100 mcg of cyanide per day, with some consuming close to 400 mcg per day. This is far from problematic because the lethal dose of cyanide, depending on the form, is about 35,000 – 250,000 mcg.
Just because a molecule has a lethal dose, does not mean that you can never ingest it. This concept is hard to grasp for “experts” with a science background that consists of little more than perusing ScienceDaily.com. So when they hear the word “cyanide,” alarm bells go off and and before you know it, there’s misinformation spreading worldwide about a very helpful molecule.
For example, even caffeine can be lethal. While a 10,000 mg dose of caffeine may kill you, a 100-300 mg dose can provide significant benefits. I’m not suggesting that cyanide in small doses has any health benefits, although stabilizing the cobalamin (B12) molecule is one, and evidence of it killing cancer cells is another one, but I am telling you that a tiny microgram dose is perfectly fine and healthy.
Why Not Methylcobalamin?
Many of the same “experts” who are warning you about cyanocobalamin are also touting the use of a different form of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin. They’ll tell you that methylcobalamin is not only safer (not true), but also far more effective than cyanocobalamin. This is also not true and quite the opposite. This misinformation stems from the fact that cyanocobalamin is an inactive form of vitamin B12.
Methylcobalamin, however, is an active form of vitamin B12. But what these experts do not realize is that there are two main active forms of vitamin B12, and your body needs both. These active forms are methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Both of these active forms of vitamin B12 perform very different functions in the body. If you supplement with just methylcobalamin, which does not get converted to adenosylcobalamin, then you run the risk of being deficient in this form of B12.
Only cyanocobalamin is converted in the body to both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Anyone who recommends that you take methylcobalamin is not telling you anything that is backed up with real science. You should also be careful of buying vitamin B-complex supplements and multivitamins that only provide vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin. You are not getting any adenosylcobalamin and are shortchanging yourself.
One solution would be to supplement with both active forms of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. But not only is it hard to find adenosylcobalamin (also known as dibencozide) supplements, the real issue is the stability of these active forms of vitamin B12. Evidence suggests that these active forms of B12 break down quickly and therefore provide very little actual B12 when you take them. Cyanocobalamin, on the other hand, is a known stable form of B12 and delivers the full dose.
Don’t get caught up in the Internet sensationalism about ingredients like cyanocobalamin. I used it for a reason in Vita JYM and that reason is its superiority as a vitamin B12 supplement, not to mention its safety. Now you know.
Seal, E. C., et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of oral vitamin B12 supplementation in older patients with subnormal or borderline serum vitamin B12 concentrations J Am Geriatr Soc. 50(1):146-51, 2002.
Kelly, G. The Coenzyme Forms of Vitamin B12: Toward an Understanding of their Therapeutic Potential. Alternative Medicine Review 2:459-471. 1997.
Butler, C. C., wt al. Oral vitamin B12 versus intramuscular vitamin B12 for vitamin B12 deficiency: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Fam Pract. 23(3):279-85, 2006.