A post on Facebook claims that the most common form of B12, cyanocobalamin entirely synthetic and toxic. We fact-checked and found this claim to be Mostly False.
In a video posted on social media the speaker states, “The most common form of B12 in the world is entirely synthetic. We make it from hydrogen cyanide. It’s called cyanocobalamin. It’s a cyanide-based B12. I mean, it’s hard to believe that we’re allowed to make vitamins out of hydrogen cyanide in this country, but we are.” Similar posts can be seen on social media.
What is Cyanocobalamin?
Cyanocobalamin is a man-made form of vitamin B12 used to prevent and treat low blood levels of Vitamin B12. According to the NHS, “Cyanocobalamin is a manufactured version of vitamin B12. It’s used to treat and prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia (when you have low levels of this vitamin in your body).”
As published in the Encyclopedia of Food Safety, 2014, “It consists of a class of chemically related compounds (such as its two coenzyme forms, methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin) that display vitamin activity. This vitamin can be synthesized by bacteria, fungi, and algae; some ruminants (cattle and sheep) can obtain it from endogenous bacterial activity. Viscera (such as the liver and kidneys), meats, eggs, dairy products, and fish are good sources of this vitamin.”
Is Cyanocobalamin, which is the most common form of Vitamin B12, toxic?
No. Its consumption is safe. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Because vitamin B12 contains the mineral cobalt, compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called “cobalamins.”
When we checked with Clinical Nutritionist Nidhi Sarin, regarding the claim she replied, “Cyanocobalamin/Vit B 12 is safe to consume. The cyanocobalamin that we consume contains way too less cyanide that is toxic, and the cyanide consumed in such traces is excreted in the urine.Basically found in supplements, it helps increasing the b12 levels in body when combined with a healthy diet.”
Furthermore, it must be noted that the hydrogen cyanide present in the synthetic cyanocobalamin is not present as a parent compound, rather as a component compound. In a normal dose, the cyanide present would be minimal and even less the cyanide we consume from our food. The New York Department of Health states that, “Low levels of cyanides are found in nature and in products we commonly eat and use. It can be produced by certain bacteria, fungi and algae. Cyanides are also found in cigarette smoke, in vehicle exhaust, and in foods such as spinach, bamboo shoots, almonds, lima beans, fruit pits and tapioca.”
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