Methylcobalamin - The Active Form of Vitamin B12

What is methylcobalamin?

Vitamin B12 is a unique element in its category because it contains cobalt, which is a metal ion. For this reason, you will hear people referring to this vitamin as cobalamin.

Methylcobalamin, on the other hand, is a coenzyme form of vitamin B12. This is the active form of vitamin B12 that your cells can use. Methylcobalamin is indispensable for the function of an enzyme called methionine synthase. Without this enzyme, DNA synthesis does not occur. Methylcobalamin also interferes in a process known as methylation. The latter is crucial for several metabolic functions.

Researchers consider methylcobalamin to be the most effective form of vitamin B12 when it comes to supporting the central nervous system. You can think of methylcobalamin as the nootropic form of vitamin B12.

In this article, we will cover the differences between methylcobalamin and other forms of vitamin B12. After that, we’ll take a look at some evidence-based research on the benefits of methylcobalamin, as well as its appropriate dosage.

Methylcobalamin Vs. other forms of vitamin B12


This is the second coenzyme form of vitamin B12. With methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin works to provide your body with full B12 coverage. Think of the two as partners in crime.

The role of adenosylcobalamin in the cell revolves around supporting the processes that occur in the mitochondria. As a result, your nerve cells become more efficient at producing ATP and managing energy.

Moreover, adenosylcobalamin is the main component of myelin sheaths. These structures are vital for your nerves to ensure rapid signal transmission.


Hydroxocobalamin is a form of vitamin B12 that’s produced by bacteria in your gut. Scientists also managed to produce this form in the laboratory.

Typically, doctors prescribe hydroxocobalamin for patients with severely low levels of vitamin B12. It is an injectable form that requires medical supervision.

Note that your cells will transform hydroxocobalamin into the active forms of vitamin B12 –Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin.


This is an artificial form of vitamin B12. Once consumed, the body converts cyanocobalamin into the active forms mentioned above.

The name of this form may be familiar to you because of the word ‘cyano.’ This means the vitamin has a cyanide molecule. While cyanide is extremely toxic, the minuscule amounts present in cyanocobalamin make it safe.

Because cyanocobalamin is man-made, you won’t find it in any food. Instead, it is marketed as a supplement.

The benefits of methylcobalamin

As we mentioned above, methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12. Therefore, supplementing your body with this molecule eliminates the need for intermediary steps.

It is important to remember that converting a molecule from A to B is not a perfect process.

Here is what happens when you take an inactive form of vitamin B12:

Upper digestive loss – Before B12 reaches the stomach, a small portion will be lost.

Absorption loss – This applies to active and inactive forms of vitamin B12.

First-pass effect – When B12 reaches the liver, large quantities will get metabolized, lowering its concentration.

Conversion loss – Finally, a considerable portion of inactive B12 will be lost in the conversion.

All of these steps are necessary to convert an inactive form of vitamin B12 to methylcobalamin. For this reason, it is better to take methylcobalamin from the start to avoid any losses.

Now that we understand the superiority of taking methylcobalamin over other forms of vitamin B12, let us briefly discuss the benefits it offers:

1.      It mediates the production of neurotransmitters

We mentioned above that methylcobalamin is an indispensable cofactor for methionine synthase. This enzyme is responsible for converting homocysteine into methionine. Finally, methionine gets converted into S-Adenosyl methionine.

This process allows for the transfer of methyl groups around the brain. Without methylation, the production of DNA and RNA would not be possible. Therefore, gene expression and protein synthesis get disrupted.

When taking methylcobalamin in appropriate quantities, it promotes the production of the following neurotransmitters:

  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Melanin
  • Acetylcholine
  • Adrenaline
  • Noradrenaline

Each one of these chemicals is essential for several metabolic pathways. All in all, taking methylcobalamin supplements will sharpen every aspect of your cognition.

2.      It optimizes energy production

Vitamin B12 mediates the degradation of odd-chain fatty acids and a few amino acids. This step is important for producing ATP.

Without B12, a byproduct known as methylmalonic acid (MMA) will build up in the cells. MMA is extremely toxic to the mitochondria and can lead to nerve cell death.

3.      It protects nerve cells

Methylcobalamin has neuroprotective properties. Differently put, it removes toxic chemicals from nerve cells and optimizes their function.

Furthermore, methylcobalamin is vital for the synthesis of myelin sheaths. Any disruption to these structures leads to debilitating consequences. Just think of disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

4.      It supports vision

Scientists found that methylcobalamin supports eye health and vision by:

5.      It promotes a healthier gut flora

While this benefit may not seem related to nootropic effects, extensive evidence suggests that gut health is closely associated with brain function.

The healthier and more diversified your gut microbiome is, the better your cognition will be.

The dosage of methylcobalamin

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day. Unfortunately, there is no consensus when it comes to dosages of methylcobalamin. In limited clinical trials, researchers used 1,500 mcg/day of methylcobalamin.

It is safe to say that taking up to 2.4 mcg of methylcobalamin per day does not carry any side effects.

As for the contraindications of taking this vitamin, there are currently no warnings from the dangers of methylcobalamin.

Finally, pregnant or breastfeeding women can safely take methylcobalamin.

Takeaway message

Methylcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12, allowing it to reach your brain in greater concentrations. It is one of the best nootropics on the market, sharpening every aspect of your cognition.

We hope that this article managed to highlight the superiority of methylcobalamin and the number of benefits it offers to the brain and body.