Ask The Herb Lady

With Cathy Burkemper


Please Explain Different Types of Vitamin B12


Q: I am confused about

the different types of B12. Can you please explain?


A: This is a question I get asked very frequently.  Many of us have a Vitamin B12 deficiency and look to a supplement to help.  However, if we are not taking the right type, we are wasting our time and money.  B12 is in a class of compounds called “cobalamins”.   There are many types but only three that are used as dietary supplements.  They are hydroxocobalamin (not common), cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.  Even though they are all technically B12, they are not the same and can affect you in different ways.  The most common form, cyanocobalamin, also the type that is given as B12 shots, is actually the poorest choice.  You need a much higher dosage in order for it to be effective and it is not always helpful for B12 deficiency.

Your overall top choice is methylcobalamin.  It is actually a coenzyme of B12.  This is the form that is found in food and has much higher bioavailability.  Other forms of B12 require a methyl donor in order to be converted into a biologically active form in the blood.  Methylcobalamin does not need to be converted.  Also, the methyl form is the only form that can help the central nervous system.  It protects nerve tissues and brain cells and should be used with neurological diseases.  It has been shown to slow the progression of ALS, MS and Parkinson’s disease.  It can help regenerate the myelin sheath that protects peripheral nerves.  It also reverses numbness from nerve damage or neuropathy.

It is widely used as an energy supplement, gives you mental clarity and has cardiovascular benefits.  Other maladies that are benefited include Alzheimer’s, Bell’s Palsy, Fibromalgia and Shingles to name a few.

You want to take a sublingual form (a tablet under the tongue) at a minimum of 1,500 mcg. per day.


This herb information is for health education purposes only.  It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners.  Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins?  Send them to Cathy Burkemper, CNHP and Certified Herbalist.  Write to:  Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO  63011.