Fact Check: Unpacking Claims That Monster and Celsius Energy Drinks Have Unhealthy Levels of Cyanide

Getty Images, Canva
Getty Images, Canva


Energy drinks such as Monster and Celsius have unhealthy levels of cyanide.


Rating: False
Rating: False

In May 2024, a video went viral on social media, claiming that energy drinks, such as Monster and Celsius, have unhealthy levels of cyanide. "Celsius energy drink has four times the amount of daily cyanide that human beings are meant to ingest," the person visible in the video said. One TikTok post with the video, as of this writing, had reached over 147,000 views, 2,200 likes and over 1,000 shares.

The video was also spread on other social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, and X (formerly Twitter). "I saw on social media that a lot of energy drinks have cyanide (small amounts) in them. Does anyone know of an energy drink that has methylated B12 in it instead?" one Reddit user asked.

In short, because energy drinks such as Monster and Celsius do not contain unhealthy levels of cyanide, we have rated this claim as "False." However, the video also spread other false and misleading information.

Below you can find our transcription of the speech from the viral video (emphasized terms will be explained below):

Have you ever heard of Celsius energy drink? Celsius energy drink has four times the amount of daily cyanide that human beings [are] meant to ingest. Four times, that's just one sample. So drink Monster or Bang. I mean drink Bang, not Monster or Celsius, right? Bang has methylcobalamin, this has cyanocobalamin. So, and we wonder what, you know, we're putting these toxic chemicals. He says you know where we get the hydrogen cyanide? Don't make me take you to that website, cause you'll just get up and leave. Do you know where we would get hydrogen cyanide? Because these facilities that actually compound this B12 they don't even pay for the hydrogen cyanide. You know where they get it? Human sewage treatment plants. It is the waste from a human sewage treatment plant, called sludge. It's foamy, yellow sludge. They scrape it off the top, they dry it, turn it into a powder, ship it to a facility, synthesize it with a metal and put it in your vitamins. They take metal, hydrogen cyanide, and put it in our supplements. So that's exactly, so when you get home tonight I want you to take all of your supplements and protein powders, spin them around and look for that word cyanocobalamin and if it has it throw in the trash.

To accurately address the misconceptions presented in the video, it is crucial to understand the terms highlighted in the above transcription:

  • Cyanide is any compound containing the monovalent combining group CN, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The presence of the cyanide (CN) group in a compound doesn't automatically mean the compound is toxic.

  • Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is, per the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), a colorless or pale-blue liquid or gas with a bitter, almond-like odor. It interferes with the body's use of oxygen and may cause harm to the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs. Exposure to hydrogen cyanide can be fatal.

  • Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 that includes a cyanide molecule. It's the most common form of vitamin B12 in dietary supplements.

  • Methylcobalamin is a biologically active form of vitamin B12, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  informs.

In short, the man in the video refers to the fact that energy drinks, such as Celsius or Monster, contain vitamin B12 and incorrectly links it to hydrogen cyanide. The cyanocobalamin found in energy drinks is a synthetic, non-toxic form of vitamin B12. While it releases a tiny amount of cyanide (not hydrogen cyanide) during its metabolism, this is far less than what is ingested from everyday foods and poses no health risk.

An article published in 2022 by the Office for Science and Society of McGill University, titled, "Oh My, There is Cyanide in B12 Supplements. Really," debunked a similar claim regarding vitamin B12 back in 2022, when a video of the same man went viral online about "the toxic ingredient in your child's vitamins." The man visible in the videos is Gary Brecka, who describes himself as a "human biologist," on the "basis of having a BS in Human Biology from National College of Chiropractic," the article informs.

The McGill University article explains that there is no reason to worry about cyanide in vitamin B12 supplements (emphasis ours):

Yes, there actually is cyanide in B12 supplements, but the scare about it is total nonsense. Vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria that inhabit the gut of animals and is present in animal foods. These bacteria are not found in fruits, grains or vegetables which is why vegetarians and vegans are generally advised to take a supplement. Vitamin B12, which the body needs for various tasks ranging from red blood cell production and DNA synthesis to proper nerve function, is actually not one compound. The term can refer to any one of four very closely related compounds, each of which has vitamin activity. They share the common feature of having an atom of cobalt at the center of the molecule, but differ in the substituents attached to that atom. This has no bearing on their biological activity.

The article continues, explaining that vitamin B12 supplements are produced through fermentation because they cannot be synthesized in the lab (emphasis ours):

None of these "vitamers," as they are called, can be synthesized from simple molecules in the lab, so supplements have to be produced by fermentation using the same bacteria that make B12 in animals. Fermentation yields adenosylcobalamine and methylcobalamin, but the problem here is that these tend to degrade when formulated into supplements. However, treatment with potassium cyanide (not hydrogen cyanide as stated in the video) converts these into cyanocobalamine which is very stable. Once ingested, cyanocobalamine is converted back into the original adenosylcobalamine and methylcobalamine, releasing the cyanide in the process. This is where the scare originates.

Moreover, the article highlights how difficult it would be for anyone to overdose on vitamin B12 (emphasis ours):

The recommended daily intake is 2-3 micrograms, but supplements can contain up to a couple of thousand because B12 is poorly absorbed from the gut. Even at the highest doses, the amount of cyanide released is about 20-40 micrograms which is far less than the amount of naturally occurring cyanide to which one could be exposed by consuming flax seeds, unpasteurized almond milk, fresh apple juice or apricots.

The oral dose of cyanide below which there is no risk has been determined to be 50 micrograms per kg of body weight. This means that a child weighing 15 kgs who is given a gigantic daily dose of 1000 micrograms of B12, would still be ingesting less than 3% of this safe amount! There is simply no issue here. How about people who are enticed by smoothies made of raw almonds or flaxseeds, which contain the highest doses of cyanide to which one could reasonably be exposed? A 70 kg adult would have to consume 16 regular-sized smoothies in less than two hours to be poisoned by cyanide! A child would have to drink about three. This of course is totally unrealistic. But how about someone who drinks a smoothie every day that contains as much cyanide as a smoothie can possibly contain, which is around 220 micrograms per serving? Still less than 6% of the maximum safe dose!

For reference, one serving of Monster energy drink has 6.17 micrograms of vitamin B12, while Celsius contains 6 micrograms of vitamin B12 (as cynocobalamin).

What's more, Celsius debunked the viral rumor in the "Essential Facts" section of its website. "These claims are untrue and the source of the claims has removed all videos where the claims are made. Some videos have been reposted but are removed quickly," the website informed:


A: No. These claims are untrue and the source of the claims has removed all videos where the claims are made. Some videos have been reposted but are removed quickly.

The website also informed that health authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and scientific organizations confirm that cyanocobalamin at normal supplemental levels is completely safe and non-toxic. It highlighted that Celsius products contain a common version of vitamin B12 called cyanocobalamin, adding that the FDA officially approved it as completely safe. Moreover, the site also debunked a false accusation that cyanocobalamin was made from hydrogen cyanide. "Cyanocobalamin is not made from hydrogen cyanide or anything else unsavory," Celsius' website informed, underscoring that it is made using the same bacteria that makes vitamin B12 in animals. Among other quoted sources were:

It's not the first time we have investigated a rumor related to energy drinks. For instance, in May 2018 we reported on a video purporting to show a small amount of Monster Energy Drink outperforming industrial brake cleaner in the task of removing grime from a workbench. In October 2017, we fact-checked whether energy drinks caused an expectant father to lose a large portion of his skull.


Calvillo, Álvaro, et al. "Bioprocess Strategies for Vitamin B12 Production by Microbial Fermentation and Its Market Applications." Bioengineering, vol. 9, no. 8, Aug. 2022, p. 365. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering9080365.

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1945. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Cyanide | Definition, Uses, & Effects | Britannica. 26 Apr. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/science/cyanide.

"Essential Facts." CELSIUS, https://www.celsius.com/essential-facts/. Accessed 5 June 2024.

Fact Check: Cyanocobalamin In B12 Supplements Is NOT Harmful | Lead Stories. 22 Feb. 2024, https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2024/02/fact-check-cyanocobalamin-in-b12-supplements-is-not-harmful.html.

FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171935/nutrients. Accessed 7 June 2024.

"GARY BRECKA: HUMAN BIOLOGIST & BIO HACKER | THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE." Gary, https://www.garybrecka.com. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Hydrogen Cyanide | NIOSH | CDC. 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/hydrogen-cyanide/default.html.

Kasprak, Alex. "Can Monster Energy Drink Remove Grime 'Better Than Brake Cleaner'?" Snopes, 12 May 2018, https://www.snopes.com//news/2018/05/12/could-energy-drink-better-brake-cleaner/.

Kasprak, Kim LaCapria, Alex. "FACT CHECK: Energy Drink Results in Hole in Expectant Father's Skull?" Snopes, 13 Oct. 2017, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/energy-drink-results-in-hole-in-expectant-fathers-skull/.

Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin B12. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12-healthprofessional/. Accessed 7 June 2024.

"Oh My, There Is Cyanide in B12 Supplements. Really." Office for Science and Society, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/critical-thinking-health-and-nutrition-pseudoscience/oh-my-there-cyanide-b12-supplements-really. Accessed 5 June 2024.

"---." Office for Science and Society, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/critical-thinking-health-and-nutrition-pseudoscience/oh-my-there-cyanide-b12-supplements-really. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Vasavada, Advait, et al. "Cyanocobalamin." StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2024. PubMed, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555964/.

---. "Cyanocobalamin." StatPearls [Internet], StatPearls Publishing, 2024. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555964/.