Vitamin B12 is responsible for a number of vital functions in our body. It is one of eight B vitamins, which all play an important role in creating energy from the food we consume. In order to feel good and stay healthy, you have to include vitamin B12 foods in your eating plan. Here you can find a list of 20 foods rich in this nutrient that you can easily add to your everyday diet.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is water soluble, meaning that it is dissolved in water and transported through the bloodstream. It’s also known as cobalamin because vitamin B12 forms also contain the mineral cobalt. Among other things, it contributes to nerve cell health, the formation of red blood cells, and the synthesis of DNA. Considering its numerous crucial roles in our body, we need to consume a sufficient amount of food containing this essential vitamin.
Vitamin B12 Benefits
Cobalamin has a number of health benefits since it may prevent cardiovascular disease, improve your memory, and boost your energy. As it plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, it prevents anemia, a medical condition characterized by a low level of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to your vital organs.
Since vitamin B12 contributes to the normal development of a fetus’s brain and nervous system, it is necessary that pregnant women have an adequate intake of this nutrient. It can also lower the risk of premature birth or miscarriage.
One study from 2016 showed that vitamin B12 may prevent dementia and improve cognitive function. However, additional research is necessary in order to provide more evidence about the role of vitamin B12 supplement in enhancing memory and slowing down mental decline.
Although more research is needed to support the conclusions about the relationship between vitamin B12 and heart health, this nutrient helps the body lower the levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are generally rich in vitamin B12. On the other hand, foods of plant origin don’t normally contain this nutrient, so vegetarians and vegans need to consume fortified food products, including breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast products. Below you can find a list of foods that are good sources of cobalamin, so try to include some of them in your eating plan.
We’ll start this vitamin B12 foods list with beef as it’s a very rich source of cobalamin. Beef liver is particularly high in this nutrient. A three-ounce serving of cooked liver provides you with 1,178% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin B12, which is over ten times more than your daily needs. Beef sirloin is also a good choice since three ounces of broiled top sirloin have 23% of your DV of cobalamin.
Another good source of vitamin B12 is a cured ham. Three ounces of roasted cured ham serve 10% of the recommended daily intake of cobalamin. Besides vitamin B12, it contains other B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Cured ham is also a great source of phosphorus and selenium.
Chicken is not as rich in vitamin B12 as beef, but it is a good source of this important nutrient. Three ounces of roasted breast meat have 5% of your daily value of cobalamin. In addition, it is high in other B vitamins, especially niacin and vitamin B6.
Seafood is generally high in cobalamin. A three-ounce serving of cooked clams covers 1,402% of your DV of vitamin B12. Apart from vitamin B12, vitamin C, riboflavin, and niacin are also found in clams. Moreover, this type of shellfish is rich in iron, selenium, phosphorus, and copper.
Many types of fish are rich in vitamin B12 and trout is no exception. Both wild and farmed trout are great sources of this vitamin. However, they contain different amounts of cobalamin. Three ounces of wild rainbow trout can provide you with 90% of your recommended value of vitamin B12, while three ounces of farmed trout have 58% of the DV of this vitamin.
Sockeye salmon is another highly nutritious fish rich in numerous vitamins and minerals. Three ounces of cooked sockeye salmon cover 80% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. It is also high in riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. In addition, it is a great source of minerals, such as selenium and phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Tuna fish is also one of the foods high in vitamin B12. Three ounces of tuna fish canned in water serve 42% of your DV of cobalamin. Furthermore, this type of fish, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein, is rich in niacin, vitamin B6, and selenium.
A great amount of vitamin B12 is also found in haddock. In three ounces of cooked haddock, there is 30% of your daily value of cobalamin. In addition, this fish from northern seas is rich in niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Octopus meat is another great source of cobalamin. Three ounces of cooked octopus meat can cover 510% of your DV of vitamin B12. It also contains other B vitamins, including vitamin B6 and niacin. When it comes to minerals, it is rich in selenium, iron, copper, and phosphorus.
Oysters are another type of seafood belonging to foods rich in vitamin B12. One ounce of cooked Pacific oysters provides you with 134% of the recommended daily value of this nutrient. They are also a great source of riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and copper.
Blue mussels are an excellent source of cobalamin. In three ounces of cooked blue mussels, you get 340% of your DV of vitamin B12. They also contain other B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. Moreover, they are rich in various minerals, such as manganese, selenium, and iron.
An Atlantic herring is another sort of fish that belongs to foods with vitamin B12. If you eat one herring fillet, you will cover 313% of your daily need of cobalamin. Furthermore, they are a great source of riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. They are also high in various minerals, such as selenium and phosphorus.
Sardines are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12. One cup of Atlantic sardines canned in oil serves 222% of the recommended daily value of this essential nutrient. They are also a rich source of vitamin D, riboflavin, and niacin. Among numerous minerals, they contain selenium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron.
There isn’t a great choice of vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians. However, those who don’t eat meat and fish, but eat other animal products, such as eggs and milk, won’t have a problem with the adequate intake of cobalamin. One large hard-boiled egg contains 10% of your DV of vitamin B12.
Milk is another option for vegetarians. In one cup of low-fat milk, you will get 18% of your daily value of vitamin B12. Milk is also a great source of riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Other dairy products, like yogurt, are also good b12 vitamin foods. Eight ounces of fruit non-fat yogurt can cover 18% of your DV of this vitamin. In addition, it will provide you with riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and other valuable nutrients.
Cheese is another milk product that has vitamin B12. In one ounce of Swiss cheese, there is 15% of the recommended daily value of cobalamin.
Fortified Soy Milk
There are only a few vitamin B12 foods vegan people can include in their diet in order to cover their daily needs of cobalamin. Their choice mostly comes down to fortified foods, such as soy milk. A cup of fortified soy milk gives you 44% of your daily value of vitamin B12.
Nutritional yeast is another vegan-friendly source of vitamin B12. One serving of nutritional yeast can cover up to 100% of your DV depending on how much cobalamin is added to it. Moreover, it usually contains other B vitamins as well.
Breakfast cereals are normally enriched with various B vitamins, including vitamin B12. Depending on the brand, they can provide you with up to 100% of the recommended daily value of cobalamin. Knowing what foods have vitamin B12 makes you easier to create a balanced eating plan that includes healthy foods rich in all the important nutrients.
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for all the nutrients are given in the Dietary Reference Intakes, which was created by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. So if you’ve been asking yourself “How much vitamin B12 should I take?”, you can find the answer to this question below:
- birth to 6 months – 0.4 mcg
- 7 to 12 months – 0.5 mcg
- 1 to 3 years – 0.9 mcg
- 4 to 8 years – 1.2 mcg
- 9 to 13 years – 1.8 mcg
- 14+ years – 2.4 mcg
As this vitamin is crucial for fetal development, pregnant women should increase their vitamin B12 intake to 2.6 mcg a day. Also, women who are breastfeeding need more vitamin B12, that is, 2.8 mcg per day to be more precise.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The symptoms of cobalamin deficiency include mouth ulcers, an inflamed tongue, problems with maintaining balance, mood changes, depression, and dementia. Low levels of vitamin B12 can also lead to megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and constipation or diarrhea. Furthermore, this type of nutrient deficiency may cause some neurological changes, including numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
Since a lack of vitamin B12 can result in permanent nerve damage, it’s crucial to diagnose cobalamin deficiency on time and treat it properly. The treatment includes either high doses of oral vitamin B12 or a vitamin B12 injection.
Who Should Take Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Supplements of this vitamin are usually given to people who are at risk of developing a deficiency in this vitamin. For example, up to a third of elderly people have problems with the absorption of vitamin B12 due to atrophic gastritis. Also, people with pernicious anemia cannot absorb this vitamin, so they are usually treated with vitamin B12 shots.
Some gastrointestinal disorders, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, may lead to a low concentration of vitamin B12 since they decrease its absorption. In addition, people who have undergone certain gastrointestinal surgical procedures can have inadequate levels of vitamin B12.
Since the sources of cobalamin are mostly foods of animal origin, strict vegetarians and vegans are likely to develop a deficiency in vitamin B12 if they don’t consume sufficient amounts of fortified food products or take dietary supplements. Pregnant and lactating women should be particularly careful if they follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet as their infants may also develop cobalamin deficiency.
Vitamin B12 Side Effects
According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, vitamin B12 is not toxic even if taken in large amounts. Since there is no evidence that too much vitamin B12 can have adverse effects on our health, this institution didn’t provide tolerable upper intake levels for this nutrient.
However, you should be cautious if you are taking supplements as they may have some side effects. Some of them include headaches, anxiety, itchy skin, and nausea. Therefore, never take dietary supplements without consulting your doctor.
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is one of the essential nutrients because it plays a number of major roles in our organism. Besides contributing to the process of energy production, it is crucial to the formation of red blood cells and the synthesis of DNA. A balanced diet can usually provide us with a sufficient amount of this vitamin as various meats, fish, and seafood are rich in cobalamin. However, strict vegetarians and vegans need to include fortified food products, such as breakfast cereals, in their eating plan, so they don’t develop a deficiency in this vitamin. There are also dietary supplements that may help people who are likely to have inadequate levels of vitamin B12. It’s good to know that high vitamin B12 doses are not toxic, but cobalamin injections can have some unpleasant side effects.
What are the benefits of taking vitamin B12?
Since vitamin B12 plays a number of crucial roles in our organism, it’s necessary that you have an adequate intake of this vitamin. Being responsible for the production of red blood cells, it can prevent anemia. Also, it is involved in the process of creating energy from the food we consume. Furthermore, it contributes to the synthesis of DNA and maintains our brain and nervous system healthy. In addition, by decreasing homocysteine, it prevents heart disease.
What are the symptoms of B12 deficiency?
Some of the symptoms of cobalamin deficiency include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and loss of breath. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and nerve damage, which is characterized by tingling in the hands and feet.
How much B12 should I take daily?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 depends on age. Healthy adults need 2.4 mcg of cobalamin daily. However, pregnant women have to increase their daily vitamin B12 intake to 2.6 mcg, while lactating women need even more cobalamin, i.e., 2.8 mcg per day.
Why do I need vitamin B12 injections?
B12 injections are used to prevent or treat cobalamin deficiency. Vegetarians and vegans usually have inadequate levels of this vitamin since vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products. Also, some people have a problem with the absorption of cobalamin due to some medical conditions. As a deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause serious health problems, it is crucial to treat it on time.
Which foods are high in B12?
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is naturally present in various foods of animal origin. Different types of meat, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, and dairy products are excellent sources of this vitamin. In addition, many foods are enriched with synthetically made vitamin B12.
Can you get B12 from plants?
Generally, plants don’t contain vitamin B12. However, this nutrient is usually added to cereals, soy products, nutritional yeasts, and other food products. Therefore, if you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to include these vitamin B12 foods in order to prevent cobalamin deficiency.