Hydroxocobalamin – a Natural B12 Form
Hydroxocobalamin (also hydroxycobalamin) is a natural form of vitamin B12, exactly as it is produced by most microorganisms and found in our body. Hydroxocobalamin is one of the most common B12 forms found in natural food sources.1
This means that hydroxocobalamin is unfortunately not a bioactive coenzyme form of vitamin B12 and must first be converted in the body – but it does have some noticeable advantages, which positively differentiate it from other B12 forms, particularly the artificial cyanocobalamin, making it an interesting option in vitamin B12 supplements.
The Special Effects of Hydroxocobalamin: Detoxifying and Long Lasting
Hydroxocobalamin has some staggering special effects, which the other B12 forms cannot achieve.
Long Lasting Effect and Sustained Release
Hydroxocobalamin bonds to the body’s transport molecules and circulates much longer in the blood than all other forms of vitamin B12, ensuring a long lasting and balanced vitamin B12 supply.2 Hydroxocobalamin also features an excellent sustained release, which on the one hand ensures an even supply of vitamin B12 for the cells and on the other side also ensures that the body’s B12 store is optimally topped up. In doing this, the body is protected in times of heightened need, such as during periods of stress or difficulty.
Detox and Quitting Smoking
Additionally, hydroxocobalamin performs other special effects before conversion to its coenzyme forms; a detox effect and a disease preventative. This is because hydroxocobalamin is an excellent cyanide catcher and is thus used amongst other things in the treatment of smoke poisoning.3 This way, the active ingredient can be a useful tool for accompanying a person quitting smoking and for a detox effect in the body.
Blocking Nitrosative Stress
At the same time, hydroxocobalamin is also useful in blocking nitric oxide (NO) radicals and thus is an outstanding tool against the development of so-called nitrosative stress, which is considered the cause of a wide variety of diseases.
When taking B12 supplements regularly, readers should be aware of this and try to ensure that hydroxocobalamin is listed as an active ingredient alongside the active forms contained in the supplement. This active ingredients is considerably more expensive than the cheap cyanocobalamin, but offers many clear advantages and is better suited to covering the natural profile of food sources too.
The Advantage of Hydroxocobalamin over Cyanocobalamin Injections
When the absorption of vitamin B12 is disturbed, for example during and after various diseases and stomach or intestinal problems, it can be necessary to take temporary vitamin B12 injections, in order to avoid the often uncertain absorption passage involved in digestion. This can also be necessary and useful to quickly refill the body’s B12 store after a long deficiency.
Here, hydroxocobalamin is particularly advantageous, as it is noticeably well absorbed by the body. In many countries, hydroxocobalamin is the standard when it comes to vitamin B12 injections; this table below compares it with cyanocobalamin, highlighting its many clear advantages:4
Necessary Conversion Steps to Coenzyme Form
Cyanide detox, blocks NO-radicals
No particular effect
Absorption After Injection
On the one hand, hydroxocobalamin has a much higher rate of absorption, on the other, it circulates for much longer in the blood, where cyanocobalamin is quickly excreted.
Both these factors facilitate a much longer period of time between individual vitamin B12 shots. When used in maintenance therapy, an injection every three months can be enough to cover the body’s vitamin B12 requirement.
Hydroxocobalamin Supplements: Pills and Capsules
These advantages are also very noticeable in oral supplements like pills or capsules. The high absorption rate is clear evidence of how well the body responds to this form of vitamin B12.
Additionally, when the total amount of absorbed hydroxocobalamin in the oral supplement reaches its limit in the intestine – an occurrence for all B12 forms – the outstanding resorption and long lasting effect of the active ingredient come into play, giving hydroxocobalamin a clear advantage.5
When buying supplements, it is advisable to avoid products with the active ingredient cyanocobalamin, despite its admittedly cheaper price and longer shelf life. Instead, products with as many natural ingredients as possible are recommended. The optimal solution would be a supplement with a mixture of hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
Hydroxocobalamin for Detox
As mentioned above, hydroxocobalamin is a very effective cyanide catcher. Interestingly, it reacts with the cyanide to form cyanocobalamin, which is then excreted by the body. Cyanocobalamin can thus in this context be considered a product of detoxification, which begs the question as to how sensible it is to take it as an active ingredient.
Smokers are a relevant example of a common case of cyanide exposure in the body. Here, hydroxocobalamin is a particularly good alternative to cyanocobalamin.
Along with cyanide, hydroxocobalamin also bonds to nitrous oxide (NO), which reduces nitrosative stress; the presumed cause of many diseases. Amongst others, research is being carried out on the connection between nitrosative stress and diseases like autoimmune diseases, atopic eczema, psoriasis, asthma, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Hydroxocobalamin – a Good Option in Vitamin B12 Therapy
Hydroxocobalamin is one of the naturally occurring B12 coenzymes in our body. Since it is so common in foods, our body can absorb this form of vitamin B12 particularly well.
Due to its excellent sustained release, it is able to ensure a long lasting B12 supply, making it one of the best choices in vitamin B12 supplements. When it comes to injections, hydroxocobalamin is comfortably the first choice amongst the available vitamin B12 active ingredients – the bioactive forms are unfortunately unavailable in commercial supplements and can only be prescribed by specialist drugstores. Hydroxocobalamin is similarly highly recommended for oral supplements, where it can be interchanged or combined with methylcobalamin.
1 Farquharson J, Adams JF. The forms of vitamin B12 in foods. Br J Nutr. 1976 Jul;36(1):127-36. PubMed PMID: 820366.
2 Keith Boddy, Priscilla King, L. Mervyn, A. Macleod, J.F. Adams, Retention of cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, and coenzyme B12 after parenteral administration, The Lancet, Volume 292, Issue 7570, 28 September 1968, Pages 710-712, ISSN 0140-6736, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(68)90752-6.
3 Shepherd G, Velez LI. Role of hydroxocobalamin in acute cyanide poisoning. Ann Pharmacother. 2008 May;42(5):661-9. doi: 10.1345/aph.1K559. Epub 2008 Apr 8.Review. PubMed PMID: 18397973.
4 Hertz, H., Kristensen, H. P. Ø. and Hoff-JØrgensen, E. (1964), Studies on Vitamin B12 Retention Comparison of Retention Following Intramuscular Injection of Cyanocobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin. Scandinavian Journal of Haematology, 1: 5–15. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0609.1964.tb00001.x
5 Hall CA, Begley JA, Green-Colligan PD. The availability of therapeutic hydroxocobalamin to cells. Blood. 1984 Feb;63(2):335-41. PubMed PMID: 6692038.