There are several types of vitamin B12, and cyanocobalamin is one of them. Part of the vitamin B complex family of vitamins, cyanocobalamin occurs naturally in animal-derived foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. People consume cyanocobalamin, and your body converts it to methylcobalamin, another form of vitamin B12.
Do vegetables have cyanocobalamin?
The short answer is no, there exist no natural sources of vegan vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). While it is possible to purchase vegetarian foods fortified with cobalamin, the existence of vegetables containing vitamin B12 is very rare. To date, dried seaweed (nori) is the only widely recognized vegan source of vitamin B12.
Unfortunately, seaweed does not contain sufficient amounts to prevent a deficiency of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin). For that reason, strict vegans are strongly advised to supplement with cyanocobalamin, a highly digestible, efficient, and inexpensive form of vitamin B12.
To get maximum health benefits from vitamin B12, it’s important to supplement with cyanocobalamin daily. While certain bacteria and algae-type microorganisms are able to synthesize cyanocobalamin on their own, people and animals cannot.
Here are some ways that cyanocobalamin benefits your health:
- Prevention of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) deficiency
- Cyanocobalamin increases stamina
- Cyanocobalamin regulates proper red blood cell production
- Cyanocobalamin is instrumental for sustaining cognitive thinking skills
- Cyanocobalamin support metabolic functioning
- Cyanocobalamin breaks down homocysteine, a hormone linked with heart attack and stroke
- Cyanocobalamin enhances memory in elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia caused by aging
- Cyanocobalamin boosts DNA synthesis
- Cobalamin protects myelin, a fatty substance that coats your nerve cells
Are you getting enough cyanocobalamin?
Even if you eat plenty of foods that contain vitamin B12, there is still a fair chance that you may develop vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
An increasing number of people are unable to produce or utilize intrinsic factor, a necessary digestive enzyme for absorbing cyanocobalamin and converting it to methylcobalamin. This occurs with pernicious anemia, a form of vitamin B12 deficiency. It can also occur if you have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass, which inhibits cyanocobalamin absorption.
Symptoms of low levels of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) include:
- Constant fatigue
- Memory loss
- Confusion (brain fog)
- Difficulty performing calculations
- Unusual aggression
- Heart palpitations
- Muscular pain and weakness
- Face twitching/spasms, particularly in one eye
- Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet (“pins and needles”)
- Difficulty walking
- Trouble holding things without dropping
To prevent and/or treat vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor will likely prescribe cyanocobalamin supplements in sublingual form or vitamin B12 injections (usually methylcobalamin).
As an alternative, many types of over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements are available for extra doses of cyanocobalamin.