The Truth about Vitamin B12 Supplements and Energy Levels
Everyone says "take B12 for energy", but no one says what form to take.
Supplemental nutrition comes in many forms - literally. Regardless of whether we're talking about vitamins or minerals, there are some forms that work better than others and some that don't work at all. Often, the nutrient being discussed has more than one form with each being responsible for different functions within the body. Below we'll discuss the differences between the 4 unique forms of vitamin B12 and why some are better than others.
With this knowledge and power, you can stop wasting money on supplements that don't work and give yourself the natural energy you've been searching for.
Let's start by looking at the most common form of B12 found in supplements, fortified foods, and prescription injections: CYANOCOBALAMIN
Cyanocobalamin is a man-made, synthetic form of B12 not found in nature. It is the combination of a cobalamin molecule with a cyanide molecule. The unnatural nature of this form indicates the need for conversion once absorbed into biologically active forms. During this conversion process, the cyanide molecule is detached from the cobalamin and replaced by either methyl or adenosyl groups. As a toxic substance, the remaining cyanide must be converted into thiocyanate, a known endocrine inhibitor that may block iodide accumulation in the thyroid gland, so it can be processed and excreted through the kidneys. The conversion process, or methylation, uses existing resources within the body including ATP energy and may take up to 18 hours to complete.
This form has long been recommended for its high absorption rate and ability to convert into hydroxocobalamin which is further converted into both bioactive forms, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. However, as a water-soluble compound, cyanocobalamin’s long conversion process results in a rather large percentage of it being excreted before having a chance to be converted. As such, the average absorption rate of cyanocobalamin is only 20-50% according to the Scandinavian Journal of Haematology.
Today, an estimated 45-50% of the American population has an MTHFR genetic mutation that inhibits or significantly reduces the conversion of synthetic and biologically inactive B12 forms into their bioactive, coenzyme counterparts.
Up next is the second most common form of B12 found in supplements and prescribed injections: HYDROXOCOBALAMIN
While this is a natural form of B12 found in foods, it is not a bioactive coenzyme form, therefore, it must be converted into either methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin just as cyanocobalamin does. The difference is that hydroxocobalamin is much more stable than its coenzyme counterparts and has a significantly higher retention rate allowing more time for the conversion process to complete making it a better option for individuals with certain MTHFR gene mutations that only slow the conversion process.
Interestingly, hydroxocobalamin is the go-to treatment for cyanide poisoning due to its ability to bond with cyanide molecules and shuttle them to our kidneys where they can be excreted.
There are only 2 natural and bioavailable forms of B12 guaranteed to go to work in our cells right away!
The only vitamin B12 supplements worth the money are the bioactive coenzymes forms: METHYLCOBALAMIN and ADENOSYLCOBALAMIN. Both entirely bypass methylation pathways allowing them to go to work right away despite MTHFR genetic mutations. Essential to improving and maintaining good health, these 2 forms offer very different benefits.
The form you've heard of: METHYLCOBALAMIN
Methylcobalamin is the hot name in the supplement industry because this form completely bypasses the methylation cycle. Arguably, this coenzyme has two main roles in the body: the conversion of homocysteine into methionine and the synthesis of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM/SAMe).
Homocysteine is a natural byproduct of protein breakdown and has been correlated with arterial plaque formation, reduced nitric oxide (vasodilator) production, increased risk of clot formation, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Made in the liver from methionine, S-adenosylmethionine (SAM/SAMe) is often regarded as the most important methyl donor in the body and contributes to more than 100 biochemical reactions. Most notably, SAMe encourages anti-inflammatory activity, the metabolism and synthesis of DNA and RNA, phospholipids, certain hormones, and melatonin (to name a few), and is often used in the treatment of chronic liver disease.
The form you haven't heard of: ADENOSYLCOBALAMIN
Adenosylcobalamin is the least common form of B12 found in supplements. In fact, less than 1% of supplements provide this essential coenzyme form, but this is the only form that works specifically in cellular mitochondria where energy is produced.
The Krebs Cycle (also known as the Citric Acid Cycle) takes place within cellular mitochondria and is the process by which our body converts food into ATP energy. However, this cycle cannot be completed without adenosylcobalamin leading to chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, and poor metabolism.
During the Krebs Cycle, methylmalonic acid (MMA) is converted into succinyl coenzyme A via adenosylcobalamin, but when there is a deficiency, MMA levels rise and begin interfering with normal fatty acid production. These fatty acids are then used by the body to create and maintain myelin sheaths - the protective layers that surround nerve cells. With weakened or damaged myelin sheaths, nerve cells may become damaged reducing the effectiveness of electrical impulses. Common symptoms of myelin sheath and nerve damage include numbness and tingling, muscle weakness, tremors, mood disturbances, and mental fog.
So, do B12 supplements really boost energy levels?
With the correct forms, B12 supplements do encourage healthy metabolism and energy production even in individuals with MTHFR gene mutations especially when combined with a full synergistic complex of biologically active B vitamins and mineral cofactors.
In fact, the importance of supplementing with the right, cell-ready vitamin forms is so substantial that we knew we had to create a product unlike any other.
With our Super-Potency B-Complex, you can win each day whether you’re a weekday warrior, athlete, or busy parent. It’s a difference you will feel from the very first dose and get others asking “What are YOU taking?!”