Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays

Liquid Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays

What are vitamin B12 drops and sprays? Are they effective? Are additives dangerous? Info on active ingredients, advantages, disadvantages and effectiveness.

Liquid Vitamin B12 as Drops or Sprays

Liquid vitamin B12 is becoming increasingly popular. But which advantages do vitamin B12 sprays and drops really offer?

Vitamin B12 drops and vitamin B12 sprays contain a solute version of vitamin B12 – since B12 is one of the water-soluble vitamins, this application is simple and should theoretically provide several advantages. The most evident of these is that liquid B12 supplements release the active ingredient immediately, which is advantageous over the vitamin B12 forms which must first be dissolved in the stomach, such as vitamin B12 pills. Thereafter, vitamin B12 can be absorbed readily through the oral mucosa, which can be beneficial for sufferers of stomach or intestinal absorption problems.

Vitamin B12 Drops, Sprays or Pills?

Vitamin B12 drops and sprays often have a better composition than B12 pills. Some of the additives found in vitamin B12 tablets, such as magnesium stearate, are suspected to negatively impact the absorption of the vitamin. These additives are not required in vitamin B12 drops and vitamin B12 sprays, meaning the body can absorb the B12 directly. 

The simplicity of the handling represents a second advantage of B12 drops and sprays: many people experience difficulties in swallowing tablets or capsules and can avoid this easily when substituting for a liquid B12 supplement. This form of B12 is also undoubtedly the most comfortable for children and the elderly at present. 

Vitamin B12 sprays have a further advantage over drops in dosage control, as a puff is often simpler to correctly administer than a drop from a pipette.  

The Effect of Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays

The direct availability is of the utmost importance for vitamin B12, since it allows it to be absorbed directly through the oral mucosa (sublingual absorption). The intake of B12 begins immediately in this case. 

The next point of absorption is the small intestine, however, leading to concerns that the vitamin B12 released could be destroyed by gastric acid. Fortunately, current studies available show that the intake of sublingual supplements is just as high as that of pills or capsules, meaning this negative impact either doesn’t exist, or is nullified by the extra oral absorption.2, 3

Absorption through the oral mucosa is therefore very advantageous, in cases where intake through the intestine is precarious or impaired. 

Advantages of Liquid Vitamin B12

The following is a summary of the prevalent advantages of vitamin B12 sprays and drops.

  • The vitamin B12 is available directly
  • Absorption begins immediately in the mouth
  • It is the easiest form to use
  • Most contain less additives than pills
  • Occasionally problematic intestinal malabsorption can to an extent be avoided

Disadvantages of Liquid Vitamin B12

The only central drawback of vitamin B12 drops and sprays could be a relatively shorter shelf life of products – pills can theoretically be stored over a very long period of time. Liquid vitamin B12 is somewhat more sensitive to light and should always be used within its shelf life, in order to ensure its full effect. However, this is no concern when the supplements are used regularly, as the shelf life is almost never reached. 

Active Ingredients of Vitamin B12 Drops

As in all vitamin B12 supplements, drops and sprays are available with various different active ingredients. Here is an overview of the forms available. 

Methylcobalamin

yes

Bio-active B12/B12 coenzyme: can be used directly by the body

Highly recommended, suitable for all uses

Adenosylcobalamin

yes

Bio-active B12/B12 coenzyme: can be used directly by the body

Highly recommended, suitable for all uses

Hydroxocobalamin

yes

Naturally occurring form found in foods, must be broken down first by the body into a coenzyme form

Recommended, good sustained release, supports detoxification of cyanide and nitrous oxide radicals

Cyanocobalamin

no

Artificial form which almost never occurs in nature. Must first be broken down by the body. Poorest availability and long-term effect of all forms.

Releases small amounts of cyanide, so not suitable for smokers. Despite its disadvantages, has a good and proven effectiveness against B12 deficiency

Dosages of Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays

The intake of B12 in the mouth corresponds roughly to the passive diffusion in the intestine. That means that around 1-2% of the dose is absorbed through the oral mucosa. In addition to this, around 1.5 µg is consumed through the swallowing of vitamin B12. 

Supplements should therefore contain around 300-500 µg of vitamin B12, in order to cover the daily requirements and provide a good buffer.

Vegan Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays

Since almost all questionable additives like gelatine and stearate don’t come into the question for vitamin B12 drops and vitamin B12 sprays, it is safe to say that these supplements are in most cases vegan. Glycerin, which occurs occasionally in vitamin B12 drops and sprays, can be of animal origin, but is far more likely to be extracted from coconut oil or produced synthetically. Readers who want to check this should look out for the additive ‘vegetable glycerin’ here.

Additives in Liquid Vitamin B12 Supplements

Vitamin B12 cannot be simply dissolved in water, because the shelf life would become too short. All vitamin B12 drops and sprays therefore also contain other additives besides water. Here is a short overview.

Glycerin (E 422)

Present in all natural oils and fats. Considered harmless. Approved for bio-products. Can be of animal origin, but in practice almost always produced from vegetable fats or synthetically. 

Potassium sorbate (E 202)

Preservative, which is synthetically produced nowadays, can be completely broken down by the body. Considered harmless. 

Sorbic acid (E 200)

See E 202

Propylene glycol (E 1520)

Used as an excipient for flavours, not fully researched yet, considered harmless at present

Sorbitol (420)

Naturally occurring sugar. Considered harmless

Propyl-p-Hydroxybenzoate (E 216)

Synthetic preservative, excreted through the kidney, can cause pseudo-allergies, particularly causing possible respiratory problems for asthma sufferers, negative effects in animal testing, poisonous to cats

Methyl-p-Hydroxybenzoate (E 218)

See E 216

Sodium methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate (E 219)

See E 216

Sodium hydrogen phosphate (E 339)

Synthetic preservative, contains phosphorus, consumer protection advises against regular consumption

Mannitol

Can act as a laxative, possible to genetically engineer, consumer protection advises against regular consumption

Sources

1 Sharabi, A., Cohen, E., Sulkes, J. and Garty, M. (2003), Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 56: 635–638. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01907.x
2 Yuka Yazaki, Gigi Chow, and Mark Mattie. „A Single-Center, Double-Blinded, Randomized Controlled Study to Evaluate the Relative Efficacy of Sublingual and Oral Vitamin B-Complex Administration in Reducing Total Serum Homocysteine Levels“ The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. November 2006, 12(9): 881-885. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.881.
3 Georges Delpre, Pinhas Stark, Yaron Niv, Sublingual therapy for cobalamin deficiency as an alternative to oral and parenteral cobalamin supplementation, The Lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9180, 28 August 1999, Pages 740-741, ISSN 0140-6736, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(99)02479-4.




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