Buying Vitamin B12 in Switzerland? Don’t!

It was October 2017 and I was just making the transition from unhealthy vegetarian to vegan. Having recently had a blood which showed my B12 levels were fine I wanted to continue that trend as I made the switch.

Local supermarkets stocked a huge range of supplements. But when it came to getting just B12 without a plethora of other vitamins I did not want, I was out of luck. I turned to my friendly local Apotheken (pharmacies). There I could certainly get B12 – vegan too! I handed over my cash and received 40 tablets… one-a-day. For slightly under 20 Swiss Francs.

I didn’t know what I had really bought at first. And then I started doing my research. Methylcobalamin was the best way of getting B12 into the system according to consensus opinion. But it was the expensive form. Difficult to manufacture and unstable.

Given the high price I had paid I assumed my purchase must have been Methylcobalamin… but on closer inspection of the small-print. No. It was Cyancobalamin. The cheaper type that requires extra processing to strip out the Cyanide molecule and release the pure Cobolamin (the B12).

So I set about finding the proper stuff. I ended up buying from Biovea. This has all the hallmarks of a Swiss operation. Except when I got the postage tracking number I found out my B12 would be coming via UPS from the USA(!) Not good. On a more expensive item I might have paid dearly with added customs duties on the Swiss side. But I was lucky. The 100 Methylcobalamin vegan tablets were so cheap (with the price being correctly disclosed on the parcel) no charges were levied. So I got a bargain!

I certainly don’t recommend Biovea, although I was happy with the service as it turned out. Next time I would probably order from Germany. In effect it seems one has to purchase outside of Switzerland to get the premium product at a reasonably price (about half that of the inferior one).

Of course, one cannot really say Cyancobalamin is inferior to Methylcobalamin. It all depends how the body processes and can access the Cobalamin (B12) part. Each person is different. I just wanted to be on the safe side and get what in theory is usually easiest for the body to use.

[Edit: perhaps you will be more lucky finding reasonably priced Methylcobalamin (or simply Cyancobalamin even) in Switzerland – I didn’t have unlimited time to search around…]