Liquid vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, is a form of a water-soluble substance necessary for a wide range of body functions such as red blood cell production. Normally taken under the tongue or mixed in a drink, people use it to treat conditions such as fatigue, pernicious anemia or gastrointestinal problems. Like other supplements, it can interact with other substances, so even though it’s readily available over the counter, a person should talk with a doctor to see if using it is okay.
The consistency of liquid vitamin B12 is normally very thin, similar to water. This can vary a little bit depending on how concentrated a company makes the product. It’s normally a dark pink to reddish in color, because it contains the heavy metal cobalt, which is found in those shades.
How to Take It
In most cases, this form of the vitamin is packaged in a small plastic bottle with an eyedropper lid. To use it, a person fills the eyedropper, places a few drops under the tongue, holds them there for 30 seconds and then swallows. If this is too uncomfortable, it’s typically acceptable to mix it with juice or another drink. Manufacturers often recommend giving the bottle a quick shake before going through this process.
The product occasionally doesn’t come with a dropper. In this case, it’s important to use a measuring tool for liquid medicines to get the right amount, because regular spoons usually hold too much and aren’t accurate enough. It’s not uncommon for a manufacturer to include a small dosing cup in the package for this purpose instead.
Combination With Other Substances
Sometimes, this substance is mixed with liquid forms of other vitamins, especially the additional seven in the B family: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin and folic acid. Many people think the taste of it isn’t very good, so many companies add some fruit flavoring. Common preservatives such as xanthan gum and sweeteners such as sucralose often are ingredients, as well.
Preference Over Other Forms
Some people like liquid B12 because it’s so convenient. It doesn’t require going to a doctor’s office, as it’s ready to buy over the counter in pharmacies, health food shops and retail stores. This version also absorbs into the blood extremely fast, providing quick results. Individuals often turn to this type if they have trouble swallowing pills and don’t want to wear a patch. They usually opt for the more expensive shots when their bodies can’t produce enough intrinsic factor, a protein that moves vitamin B12 into the small intestine.
Reasons for Use
Doctors have figured out that vitamin B12 is necessary to change carbohydrates into glucose, the simple sugar the body can use for energy. It is connected to cell metabolism, as well, particularly in the synthesis of DNA. They recommend it, therefore, when a person has a problem with fatigue. Along with the other B vitamins, it ties to cell reproduction and is needed for healthy nails, skin and hair. The product also plays a role in normal brain and nervous system function, so scientists are studying its effects on conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, poor memory, depression, mania and psychosis.
One common reason to take the liquid form is because a person has pernicious anemia, a condition in which someone has trouble absorbing the vitamin because they don’t have enough intrinsic factor. The deficiency that happens as a result causes the number of red blood cells to drop. Other people who might not get enough B12, such as strict vegetarians or those who are pregnant, typically benefit from taking a supplement. Individuals who have stomach or intestinal problems also might take it, because it generally promotes good digestion and absorption of foods.
In general, manufacturers recommend storing liquid vitamin B12 at temperatures somewhere between 55 and 85° Fahrenheit. In most cases, this means a person can keep it in a cabinet at normal room temperature. Some companies suggest that buyers put the container in a refrigerator, however, which is thought to extend shelf life. No matter the temperature, it should be kept out of the reach of children.
Similar to many other drugs, B12 in liquid form potentially can interact with a variety of other things, such as alcohol, antibiotics, nicotine, metformin and even other nutrients such as potassium. Those who want to take it, therefore, should consult a doctor to avoid problems and determine what dosage might be best. Additionally, the form most often sold is cyanocobalamin, which is synthetically made and which is bound to the toxic cyanide molecule. Experts are concerned that, as the liver filters out the cyanide, it depletes levels of useful “methyl” molecules, which might increase the risk for heart disease. Methylcobalamin is an alternative form found in nature that is thought to be safer.