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Methylcobalamin vs. Hydroxocobalamin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 28, 2024
Methylcobalamin is a form of Vitamin B12 used in the body's cellular metabolism, while hydroxocobalamin is another B12 form used primarily for detoxification and in treating B12 deficiencies.

Key Differences

Methylcobalamin is a naturally occurring form of Vitamin B12, containing a methyl group (CH3) attached to the cobalamin molecule. It plays a crucial role in brain health, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. Hydroxocobalamin, another natural form of Vitamin B12, features a hydroxo group (OH) attached to the cobalamin. It is commonly used to treat Vitamin B12 deficiencies and is known for its ability to detoxify the body, particularly from cyanide poisoning.
Methylcobalamin is typically found in animal-based foods and is also available as a dietary supplement. It is often recommended for vegetarians and vegans who may lack sufficient B12 in their diet. Hydroxocobalamin is less common in dietary sources but is available as a prescription medication, often administered as an injection for treating B12 deficiencies.
Methylcobalamin is readily absorbed and utilized by the body, making it an efficient form of Vitamin B12 for those needing to supplement their intake. Hydroxocobalamin, while also effectively absorbed, is known for its longer-lasting presence in the body, which can be beneficial for maintaining steady B12 levels.
Methylcobalamin is often preferred for neurological applications, as it supports nerve health and cognitive function. It is also used in treating peripheral neuropathy and certain types of anemia. Hydroxocobalamin is used in emergency medicine for cyanide poisoning due to its ability to bind and neutralize cyanide. It is also used for its prolonged effect in treating Vitamin B12 deficiencies.
Both methylcobalamin and hydroxocobalamin are generally well-tolerated, with few side effects. However, methylcobalamin may cause mild digestive disturbances in some individuals, while hydroxocobalamin can occasionally lead to skin discoloration or allergic reactions, particularly at the injection site.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Group Attached

Methyl group (CH3).
Hydroxo group (OH).

Primary Function

Cellular metabolism, nerve function.
Detoxification, B12 deficiency treatment.


Animal-based foods, supplements.
Prescription medication, injections.


Readily absorbed and utilized.
Effectively absorbed, longer-lasting in the body.

Therapeutic Uses

Neuropathy, cognitive support, certain anemias.
Cyanide poisoning, Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Methylcobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin Definitions


Methylcobalamin supports cognitive function and mental clarity.
Elderly patients often take methylcobalamin for better cognitive health.


Hydroxocobalamin binds to cyanide, making it useful in emergency medicine.
Firefighters exposed to smoke may receive hydroxocobalamin as a precaution.


Methylcobalamin is a bioavailable form of Vitamin B12 found in animal products.
As a vegetarian, she included methylcobalamin supplements in her diet.


Hydroxocobalamin is administered as an injection for its sustained effects.
The hydroxocobalamin injection helped maintain his B12 levels over time.


Methylcobalamin is a form of Vitamin B12 essential for brain health and nerve function.
Doctors often recommend methylcobalamin supplements for neurological health.


Hydroxocobalamin is less commonly found in food but available as medication.
While not abundant in her diet, she received hydroxocobalamin through medical treatment.


Methylcobalamin participates in DNA synthesis and cellular metabolism.
The patient was prescribed methylcobalamin to aid in her cellular repair processes.


Hydroxocobalamin is a natural form of Vitamin B12 used in detoxification.
Hydroxocobalamin injections are used in emergency treatments for cyanide poisoning.


Methylcobalamin is used in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy and anemia.
Methylcobalamin injections were effective in managing his diabetic neuropathy.


Hydroxocobalamin treats Vitamin B12 deficiencies and maintains B12 levels.
Her doctor prescribed hydroxocobalamin for her severe B12 deficiency.


A cobalamin (form of vitamin B12) used to treat neuropathies.


(vitamin) A natural analog of vitamin B12, a basic member of the cobalamin family of compounds, with an intense red color.


What is hydroxocobalamin?

A natural form of Vitamin B12 used for detoxification and treating B12 deficiencies.

Is hydroxocobalamin available over the counter?

Hydroxocobalamin is typically available by prescription, especially in injection form.

What is methylcobalamin?

A form of Vitamin B12 important for nerve health and cellular metabolism.

How do methylcobalamin and hydroxocobalamin differ?

Methylcobalamin is used for neurological health, while hydroxocobalamin is for detoxification and B12 deficiency treatment.

Can methylcobalamin be taken as a supplement?

Yes, it's available as a dietary supplement, often recommended for vegetarians and vegans.

Is methylcobalamin effective for treating anemia?

Yes, especially in certain types of anemia related to B12 deficiency.

Can hydroxocobalamin be used in emergency medicine?

Yes, particularly for treating cyanide poisoning due to its detoxifying properties.

Is methylcobalamin beneficial for brain health?

Yes, it supports brain function and cognitive health.

How is hydroxocobalamin administered?

It is often given as an injection to ensure effective absorption and prolonged effect.

Are there any food sources of methylcobalamin?

Yes, it is found in animal-based foods like meat, fish, and dairy.

How long does hydroxocobalamin stay in the body?

It has a longer-lasting presence in the body compared to other forms of Vitamin B12.

Can hydroxocobalamin discolor the skin?

In some cases, it can lead to temporary skin discoloration.

Can vegetarians get enough methylcobalamin from their diet?

Vegetarians may need to supplement, as it is primarily found in animal products.

Is hydroxocobalamin a good option for long-term B12 supplementation?

Yes, due to its prolonged effect in the body.

Is hydroxocobalamin effective immediately after administration?

It starts working soon after administration, especially in cases of cyanide detoxification.

How does methylcobalamin support nerve function?

It aids in the maintenance and repair of nerve cells and myelin.

Can both methylcobalamin and hydroxocobalamin be taken together?

Yes, but it’s important to follow medical advice for correct dosing and combinations.

Should methylcobalamin be taken daily?

The frequency depends on individual needs and doctor’s advice.

Does methylcobalamin have any side effects?

It's generally well-tolerated, though some may experience mild digestive issues.

Can hydroxocobalamin cause allergic reactions?

While rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions, especially at the injection site.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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