Vitamin B12 is important for a host of reasons: it helps with cellular function, it provides your body with energy, and protects nerve and brain cells from free radical damage. And surprisingly enough, you can be deficient in vitamin B12 if you're a meat-eater or a vegetarian. The key to getting the benefits of vitamin B for swimming performance is getting the right type. Here we'll talk about four different types of this important nutrient and how it can help improve your swimming performance.
If you've taken vitamin B12 in the past as a supplement, it's highly likely that you've taken it in this form, since cyanocobalamin is the most stable, enabling it to have a long shelf life. Sold at bargain prices in most drugstores, it is the most common form of this vitamin but also contains cyanide, as the name implies. While not toxic in small doses, your body does need to convert and excrete this cyanide molecule. This detoxification process makes cyanocobalamin not as easily absorbed as some of the other types of vitamin B12 that we'll discuss later.
This form of vitamin B12 is used primarily in your liver, brain, and nervous system. The most active form in the human body, it converts homocysteine into methionine, which helps protect the cardiovascular system, as well.
Beyond helping out with these key biological functions, methylcobalamin also has a positive effect on your sleep, which is something that swimmers need a lot of given their intense workout schedules. Studies show that "individuals supplementing this form of B12 often have improved quality of sleep, often will require slightly less sleep, and will not uncommonly report that they feel a bit more refreshed when waking in the morning."1 Our Nutriboost shake uses methylcobalamin to help your body repair and recover during a night of healthful sleep.
This is the form of vitamin b12 that you'll most likely get from your diet since it's created by bacteria naturally. Hydroxocobalamin easily converts into methylcobalamin in the body and is mostly present in animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, fish, and milk. If you're a vegetarian athlete, you will need to supplement with vitamin B12 to allow your body to maintain the processes of red blood cell formation, immune system functionality, and enhanced mood.
Found mostly in human livers, this form of vitamin b12 contains molecules that your body can use immediately and is easily absorbed. Adenosylcobalamin is one of the key forms of vitamin B12 needed for the process of creating cellular energy and without it, our bodies can experience potential DNA and RNA damage, setting the stage for fatigue, early aging, and degenerative diseases.
It is best to use this form of vitamin B12 in conjunction with the aforementioned methylcobalamin since "according to the National Institute of Health, a combination of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin is the most absorbable and bioavailable supplemental B12 and superior to formulations that only contain cobalamin or hydroxocobalamin."2
Now that you're aware of the different types of vitamin B12 available to help your body function properly, make sure you are eating the right foods and taking the right supplements to ensure your best performance in the pool!