B12 supplementation: Hi All I am a... - Pernicious Anaemi...

Pernicious Anaemia Society

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B12 supplementation


Hi All

I am a vegetarian verging towards vegan and b12 deficient diagnosed over three years ago.

I have been reading on an American site ‘bebrainfit.com’ which raised a number of issues which concernedme.

Firstly it advised against using b12 based on cynocobalamin (sic) as it was synthetic and difficult to absorb as well as introducing cyanide to ones system. Instead it suggested b12 created with methylcobalamin or adenosucobalamin.

I would be interested to know if this is true and, if so, sources of b12 from the suggested alternatives. I am using b12 tablets bought from Holland & Barrett who, as far as I can see, do not offer and alternative source.

The site also claimed that fermented soys bean products should avoided as the b12 with in them actually makes the absorption of b12 more difficult. This is of obvious concern to any vegetarian/vegan as tofu in its many forms is an important part of ones diet both as a meat alternative and a source of b12.

Again educated opinions would be welcomed.

Thank you.

6 Replies

The amount of cyanide in a Cynocobalamin B12 supplement tablet is less than that in an Apple pip . It can be discounted . Because it is cheap to produce, it is the type of B12 used in supplementing cereals etc . There is absolutely no harm in you taking those tablets from Holland and Barrett. Hydroxocobalamin is a different version of B12 , and the one that is usually used for injections by patients with Pernicious Anaemia , which is an incurable autoimmune condition which produces antibodies that prevent Vitamin B12 from being absorbed. You can obtain Methylcobalamin sub-lingual lozenges from Amazon U.K. They are much more expensive . Adenosylcobalamin is very unstable , and I don’t know of a source .

There is no B12 in fermented soya beans .So carry on eating them . They are so good for you . B12 only occurs in animal products . Sometimes vegans can get some by eating vegetables that have been grown using natural fertilisers ( i.e. animal dung ) but only if they don’t wash them thoroughly!

Alfabeta in reply to wedgewood

Thank you for your response, Wedgwood, as always highly informed and very helpful. The site did not state that fermented soya contained usable b12 but said that eating such products could made b12 deficiency worse because they bind with b12 receptors which prevent the absorption of b12.

I did read a little more about b12 sources and it said that methylcobamalin was only really absorbable by injection as orally in tablet or spray form only about 1% would be absorbed - so it’s cynocobalamin forever for me!

Hope you enjoy your Sunday.


well done for being skeptical about the advice against cyano.

It does contain a cyanide molecule but this is very tightly bound to the cobalamin molecule - hydroxocobalamin is used to treat cyanide poisoning because it combines to form cyanocobalamin, most of which is removed from the patients system very quickly. The cyanide molecule will be released when the B12 is processed in your cells but it in such low quantities that it doesn't pose any sort of risk unless you have a particular and very rare genetic sensitivity to cyanide (leber's syndrome) ... in which case it will cause blindness. You probably take in more cyanide from food (yes, it is there in trace quantities).

All the forms of B12 used for supplementation/treatment of deficiency are created artificially in vats. Adenosyl and methyl are analogues of the two forms used in your cells but the process of absorbing it from your food and then transporting it into your cells involves stripping whatever binder there is on the B12 molecule and then recombining it with whichever of adenosyl or methyl the cell needs at that point in time. Generally speaking the statement that adenosyl and methyl are better is unfounded. I say generally because there are some variations in specific genes that can affect the efficiency with which an individual strips different binders so some people do find different forms better than others. Methylcobalamin does seem to work best in some people taking B12 to treat damage to the protective sheath around cells but other people can experience some quite unpleasant side effects. Personally I find B12 works quite well for some neuropathic symptoms but does absolutely nothing for psychological symptoms. Adenosyl works very well for me with incontinence ... but generally hydroxo and cyano deal with most of my B12 symptoms.

Whist there is B12 is some vegetable products this is generally a form that isn't biologically available to humans so won't prevent a dietary B12 deficiency occuring. Exception would be foods that have specifically been fortified with B12.

Not aware of any reason for avoiding them - just that they won't actually provide you with any dietary B12

Gambit62Administrator in reply to Gambit62

PS - would recommend avoiding very high dose supplements - and sticking with smaller daily doses - about 10mcg a day if you are supplementing for dietary reasons

Alfabeta in reply to Gambit62

Thank you for your in depth and authorative response which clarifies the situation perfectly.

However, I wonder if you could advise about ‘not being useful for psychological symptoms.

I have posted previously that most of my original symptoms ceased very quickly once my injections started but I have a recurring sequence of symptoms which have persisted since diagnosis.

I go into a semi conscious state during which tinnitus occurs - the sound of very poor radio interference on the old tube sets, followed by a euphoric feeling coupled with auditory hallucination - a dream like experience which seems to make sense but no sense afterwards.

This sequence lasts for about 10 seconds. During the attack, if I am reading the text makes no sense even though I can read the words and anyone talking to me makes no sense even though I can hear their words.

Fortunately, the tinnitus has stopped completely - none for over a year now - and mostly I only get the beginning of the process not the auditory hallucinations but they do recur sometimes but, thankfully, not often.

I generally get between 5 to 10 events on the first day then, over a 5/6 day period they reduce to 1/2 events.

I have regularly had them between injections 6/8 weeks and sometimes soon after the injection is given.

In this 12 week cycle I had them for 5 days a day after the injection, for five days in week 5/6 and this week - a third repeat which is quite rare.

I kinda think I’m getting better but who knows.

If my b12 supplements do not help with the psychological issues have you a recommendation for an alternative.

I take folic acid daily even though I get plenty in my diet and a multivitamin. I have two bananas so my potassium should be okay.

Thank you so much for caring and taking the time to respond.

Gambit62Administrator in reply to Alfabeta

my psychological problems are mood related - depression and anxiety.

we have had another member of the forum who experienced problems with auditory hallucinations but I can't remember the details.

What you describe actually sounds as if it probably isn't B12 related because it comes and goes but may be something that is on a cycle that co-incides with injections - hormonal? It also has elements that remind me of silent migraines - though generally those involve visual rather than aural disturbances.

Injections are used to correct absorption problems - so not sure that your diet is really what has caused your deficiency.

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