Difference Between Cyanocobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin (With Table)

Vitamin B12 in natural form is an animal-based vitamin (found in meat, fish, and dairy products). It is vital for the development of the brain, blood flow, and nerves. Since vegans do not consume animal products, they take vitamin B12 supplements (lab-formed vitamins).

Both cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin are types of vitamin B12 that can be taken to help the body operate properly, especially in older people. Patients must consume these supplements by taking doctors’ prescriptions.

Cyanocobalamin vs Hydroxocobalamin

The main difference between cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin is that cyanocobalamin is made artificially in a laboratory. However, hydroxocobalamin is both (can be produced naturally while digestion in the human body, or is prepared artificially in the labs). Moreover, cyanocobalamin can be consumed as a capsule, mouth spray, or injection. In contrast, hydroxocobalamin is injected into the muscles.

Cyanocobalamin is a dietary nutritional supplement of vitamin B12 that is essential for optimal body functioning. It is required for the normal blood flow in the human body to prevent humans from fatal conditions( amenia and nerve damage). Depending on the doctor’s prescription, it is taken through injections, sprays, or capsules.

Hydroxocobalamin is also a nutritional supplement of B12. It is consumed if a person is deficient in vitamins or, in the rare instance of cyanide poisoning. Injections are used to administer it into the muscles. Once ingested, it quickly treats the sufferer. Diarrhea is a typical side effect following ingestion.

Comparison Table Between Cyanocobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin

Parameters of Comparison



Invented in

Cyanocobalamin was invented in the 1940s.

Hydroxocobalamin’s invention started in the 1920s.

Generic Name

The generic name of cyanocobalamin is oral cyanocobalamin.

The generic name of hydroxocobalamin is Cyanokit.


Cyanocobalamin treats people within 5-7 days.

Hydroxocobalamin treats people immediately.

Available in

Cyanocobalamin is available as injections, sprays, and tablets.

Hydroxocobalamin is available as injections.


It is produced artificially in the labs.

It can be produced naturally by the human body or artificially in the labs.

What is Cyanocobalamin?

Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 having the chemical formula C63H88CoN14O14P. It consists of potassium cyanide, sodium nitrite, and heat that is added to fermented microorganisms (a mixture of different B12 supplements) in chemical labs.

It is available for medical use primarily to treat vitamin deficiencies. Other applications are for treating fatal diseases( fish tapeworm, bowel cancer). It is advisable for pregnant women and older people too.

It may also be beneficial to persons who have had stomach surgery or have other stomach-related issues. There is no odor or flavor to this red-colored vitamin B12. It is not produced inside the human body, although, could be found in smokers in rare cases.

It is a widely used drug in the United States and other Western countries. These vitamins can also be available in generic medicine, which is relatively economical. Though it shows its results in a week, it is very stable in air in dry form.

When these supplements are exposed to light, they may become inactive in rare cases. These supplements can leave a few non-fatal side effects such as diarrhea, itching. In some cases, side effects can be fatal such as heart failure, Hypokalemia (loss of potassium level).

What is Hydroxocobalamin?

Hydroxocobalamin is also another type of vitamin B12 supplement. It is produced naturally in the stomach while the digestion process takes place. Also, it is prepared synthetically by adding certain chemicals. 

Its chemical formula is C62H89CoN13O15P, which means, it consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide, nitrate molecules, and potassium. The suffix cobalamin indicates that hydroxocobalamin, like cyanocobalamin, belongs to the cobalamin chemical family.

Apart from treating deficiencies, it is the best supplement to treat cyanide poisoning, eye-related inherit diseases, and anemia. This dark red-colored supplement is injected into the veins of humans rather than being taken as a pill.

An adult is usually given 4g of the dose, however, the amount of the dosage may vary depending on the prescription. Though experiments on preparing synthetic hydroxocobalamin have been conducted since the 1920s, it got approval in Europe in 1996.

This supplement is even listed under the medicines of the world health organization and is available in generic form by the name of Cyanokit.

It also leaves side effects, similar to the side effects of cyanocobalamin once injected into the body but, shows the result instantly. Since when it is injected, it does not interfere with the oxygen inside the body, it is a more superior form of vitamins.

Main Differences Between Cyanocobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin

  1. Cyanocobalamin may react with oxygen inside the body, making it inferior to hydroxocobalamin vitamin B12.
  2. Cyanocobalamin is consumed in higher quantities for best results than hydroxocobalamin that are injected after every three months.
  3. Cyanocobalamin is a human-produced supplement. On the other side, hydroxocobalamin can be created both naturally and artificially in the labs.
  4. When compared to hydroxocobalamin, which shows results within minutes, cyanocobalamin takes longer to exhibit results.
  5. Cyanocobalamin’s chemical formula is C63H88CoN14O14P. On the contrary, the chemical formula of hydroxocobalamin is C62H89CoN13O15P.
  6. Cyanocobalamin’s generic term is oral cyanocobalamin. However, the generic version of hydroxocobalamin is Cyanokit.
  7. Cyanocobalamin was invented in the 1940s. However, research on hydroxocobalamin started in 1920.


Both cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin are vitamin B12 belonging to the cobalamin compound of vitamins. Both the vitamins are not present in animals. The problems such as vitamin deficiencies, optical damage, and anemia can all be treated by taking synthetic forms of cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin. Both the vitamins originated in the nineteenth century for the normal functioning of the human body, especially in old age.

Patients who consume both types of vitamin B12 experience identical side effects such as headache, diarrhea, itching, and dizziness. Both the vitamin B12 are red, tasteless, and are available in generic form at an economical price. Moreover, hydroxocobalamin is recommended more because it shows instant results and has to be consumed in a lesser quantity comparatively. Otherwise, both vitamins B12 are famous worldwide.


  1. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19541400473
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1796408/
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3181/00379727-122-31041