3 Types of Vitamin B-12

by Melissa Chichester

Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in health.

This water-soluble nutrient is part of the B-complex group.

B-12 helps maintain proper metabolic function and cellular energy levels by helping convert food into energy.* In addition, it supports the health of your heart, circulation, gums,  mouth, and nervous system.* 

Furthermore, B-12 helps the development and regeneration of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen through the body.* It’s also involved in DNA synthesis and renewal.* 

While B-12 is naturally found in animal-based foods, some individuals may require supplementation to meet their daily needs. There are three primary forms of Vitamin B-12 supplements: methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. 


Methylcobalamin is the active form of Vitamin B-12 that naturally occurs in food and can be readily utilized by the body. It is the most bioavailable form of B-12 and plays a vital role in various metabolic processes.* This type of Vitamin B-12 can also be found in natural food sources such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. People following a plant-based diet can get Vitamin B-12 in nutritional yeast, fortified products, and supplements. 

>>How to Increase Your B Vitamins Intake Through Food


Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of Vitamin B-12 commonly used in supplements and fortified foods. When consumed, cyanocobalamin is converted into methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin in the body. In the body, both methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin can be converted into other forms of Vitamin B-12.

Cyanocobalamin is the most popular choice for supplement manufacturers.

>>Shop all Vitamin B-12 supplements


Hydroxocobalamin is a form of Vitamin B-12 that is typically administered in an injectable form by a doctor. This injection can be intramuscular or intravenous. 

When considering B-12 supplementation, it is important to consult with your doctor first to make sure it’s a good fit for your current routine. Vitamin B-12 is a vital nutrient that supports overall health and well-being, and understanding the different forms of B-12 and their unique characteristics can help you make better decisions about maintaining optimal B-12 levels.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.