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Cyanocobalamin: The REAL Reason Why You Should Avoid Synthetic B12

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/23/2023

Cyanocobalamin: The REAL Reason Why You Should Avoid Synthetic B12

Do you ever think about what's in those vitamin B12 supplements you're popping every morning? Probably not, right?

Well, here's a shocker. The most common form of B12 in your supplements is cyanocobalamin - a synthetic version that might do more harm than good.

Does that sound like something straight out of a futuristic flick? Unfortunately, it isn't. It's as accurate as the vitamins sitting on your kitchen counter.

We'll dive into why this seemingly harmless supplement could pose risks and explore natural alternatives that may better serve you and your health goals.

This isn't just another "vitamin scare" article. This is about giving yourself the best shot at wellbeing...one less pill at a time!

Understanding Cyanocobalamin: The Synthetic B12

Cyanocobalamin, the synthetic form of vitamin B12, is common in fortified foods and supplements. But did you know it's not as beneficial as its natural counterparts?

This lab-created version contains a cyanide molecule. Yes, that's right - the same substance used in deadly poisons. While the amount isn't enough to harm most people directly, it could cause issues over time.

When your body breaks down cyanocobalamin for use, it has to remove and detoxify this unwanted intruder. This process can stress your system unnecessarily—like trying to run with a weighted backpack.

The more we learn about B12 forms, the clearer it becomes that choosing naturally occurring types like methylcobalamin might be better for our health.

Cyanide's Impact on Mitochondrial Health

It's no secret that cyanide isn't exactly a health booster. But you may not know how it disrupts our mitochondria's work. The powerhouses of our cells, mitochondria, need oxygen to produce energy.

Cyanide messes with this process by blocking oxygen use in these tiny cell factories  (NCBI). Without their O2 supply, they can't generate ATP - the body’s primary energy source.

This can lead to mitochondrial damage and potential health risks like fatigue and muscle weakness. It’s like running your car without fuel won’t work.

"Side effects" text on card with tea mug and stethoscope on wooden table.

Side Effects and Genetic Considerations with Cyanocobalamin

Cyanocobalamin, the artificial type of B12, may bring about some adverse reactions. Some people might experience headaches or swollen ankles and feet. In some cases, cyanocobalamin can cause pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure.

The body's ability to detoxify cyanide released from cyanocobalamin depends on genetic factors. For example, those with MTHFR gene mutations may have reduced detox capabilities. Research shows that such individuals could be more susceptible to harmful impacts.

In these cases, using natural forms of B12 like methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin would be safer options. The body readily absorbs them without releasing harmful substances.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Form of B12

When it comes to B12, not all versions are equally effective. Many supplements contain cyanocobalamin, a synthetic version that's harder for your body to use and could even be harmful.

Your genetic makeup can also affect how well you absorb and utilize different types of B12. For example, people with specific variants of the MTHFR gene may struggle to convert cyanocobalamin into a usable form.

No need to worry. You've got options. Methylcobalamin, a natural alternative, is more accessible in your system and better suited for those with MTHFR mutations.

Methylcobalamin - A Natural Alternative to Cyanocobalamin

Unlike cyanocobalamin, a synthetic form of vitamin B12 widely used in supplements and fortified foods, methylcobalamin is a natural alternative with many advantages. It's the most bioavailable form of B12, readily absorbed and utilized by your body.

Besides being quickly absorbed, methylcobalamin supports nerve health. For those with neuropathy or similar conditions, methylcobalamin is an ideal choice due to its enhanced nerve health support. Research supports the efficacy of methylcobalamin for nerve health.

Folks with specific genetic issues, such as MTHFR gene mutation, can benefit more from methylcobalamin than its synthetic counterpart. So why not make the switch? Give your body what it needs naturally.

Causes and Consequences of B12 Deficiency

B12 deficiency can sneak up on you like a thief in the night. It's often caused by poor dietary intake or malabsorption issues. You might not realize it until anemia sets in, robbing your cells of oxygen.

The role B12 plays in red blood cell production is akin to that of a maestro conducting an orchestra; without it, things go haywire. This leads to megaloblastic anemia, where the body produces large abnormal red blood cells that cannot carry enough oxygen.

Studies show prolonged B12 deficiency could also lead to nerve damage, memory loss, and even depression - turning life into quite the sour symphony.

Other Natural Forms of B12: Hydroxycobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin

The quest for natural alternatives to cyanocobalamin doesn't stop at methylcobalamin. Two more worthy contenders are hydroxycobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.

Hydroxycobalamin - An Alternative Form of B12

This naturally occurring form is easily converted into the active forms our bodies need. While not as common in supplements, hydroxocobalamine's unique benefits, such as longer retention in the body, make it an attractive option.

Adenosylcobalamin - Another Natural Form of B12

Last but certainly not least, adenosylcobalamin gets a nod. This powerhouse is crucial for energy production within cells, particularly liver cells. Some people with specific genetic factors, though, might need adenosyl over other types of B12. So yes, folks.

The journey to optimal health isn’t one-size-fits-all.


Cyanocobalamin dangers and natural alternatives aren't just words but critical to your health journey. Knowledge is power.

So you've learned about cyanocobalamin - the synthetic B12 lurking in many supplements and fortified foods. It's cheap, but at what cost?

You now understand how excess cyanide from high doses can impact mitochondrial health, with methylene blue acting as a possible antidote.

We discussed the side effects of cyanocobalamin use, genetics' role in detoxification capabilities, and why choosing the suitable form of B12 matters. Methylcobalamin was highlighted as a beneficial alternative.

But let's not forget other players like hydroxycobalamin or adenosylcobalamin - more options for maintaining your vitality naturally!

Knowledge empowers choices; healthier choices lead to better well-being, one less pill at a time!

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