Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body cannot obtain on its own, so you should get it from your diet or supplements.
Vegetarians, pregnant or lactating women and others at high risk of deficiency should strictly follow their diet to make sure they are getting enough.
This article lists 12 foods that are rich in Vitamin B12 to add to your shopping list.
What Is Vitamin B12?
This water soluble vitamin has many essential functions in your body.
You need to keep your nerves healthy and support the production of DNA and red blood cells, as well as maintaining normal brain function.
The recommended daily dose (RDA) is approximately 2.4 mcg but slightly higher in pregnant or breast-feeding women.
Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the stomach by a protein called intrinsic factor. This substance binds to the vitamin B12 molecule and facilitates its absorption in the blood and cells.
Your body stores excess vitamin B12 in the liver, so if you consume more than RDI, your body will preserve it for future use.
You can develop vitamin B12 deficiency if your body is not producing enough internal factor or you are not eating enough vitamin B12-rich foods.
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products, especially in meat and dairy products. Fortunately for those on a vegan diet, fortified foods can also be good sources of this vitamin.
Here are 12 delicious foods rich in Vitamin B12.
1. The liver and kidneys of animals
Organic meats are one of the most nutritious foods. The liver and kidneys, especially those from lamb, are rich in vitamin B12.
A 100 gram serving of lamb liver provides an incredible 1500% of RDI for Vitamin B12.
While lamb liver is more rich in vitamin B12 than bovine or veal liver, the latter two contain about 990% of RDI per 100 grams.
Lamb liver is also very rich in honey, selenium and vitamins A and B2.
Lamb, veal and veal kidneys are also rich in Vitamin B12, providing about 1300% of RDI per 100 grams per serving. They also provide more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin B2 and selenium.
SUMMARY: A 100 gram serving of lamb, beef or veal liver contains up to 1500% of the RDI for Vitamin B12, while the same portion of the kidney contains up to 1300% of the RDI.
Mussels are small, fluffy shells that are full of nutrients.
This mollusc is a lean source of protein and contains very high concentrations of vitamin B12. You can get more than 3300% of RDI in just 20 small clams.
Mussels, especially small whole mussels, also provide large amounts of iron, with almost 300% of RDI in 20 small mussels.
Mussels have also been shown to be a good source of antioxidants.
Interestingly, broth with boiled mussels is also rich in vitamin B12. Preserved broth provides between 2.7 and 14.1 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
SUMMARY: A serving of 100 grams of mussels contains up to 99 mcg of vitamin B12, or 1600% of RDI.
Sardines are small saltwater fish with soft bones. They are usually sold canned in water, oil or sauces, but you can also buy them fresh.
Sardines are super nutritious as they contain almost all the nutrients in sufficient quantity.
A 150 gram serving of sardines provides more than twice the RDI for Vitamin B12.
In addition, sardines are an excellent source of fatty acids that have been proven to have many health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
SUMMARY: 150g squeezed sardines contain up to 200% of RDI for Vitamin B12.
Beef is a great source of vitamin B12.
Grilled steak (about 186 grams) provides almost 200% of the RDI for Vitamin B12.
In addition, the same amount of steak contains reasonable amounts of vitamins B2, B3 and B6, as well as more than 100% of the RDI for selenium and zinc.
If you are looking for higher levels of Vitamin B12, it is recommended that you choose from low-fat cuts of meat. It is also best to grill or bake it instead of frying it. This helps to maintain the vitamin B12 content.
SUMMARY: A 100 gram serving of beef contains approximately 6.2 mcg of vitamin B12. This is 102% of RDI.
5. Enriched cereals
This source of Vitamin B12 can work well for vegetarians and vegans because it is synthetically produced and not derived from animal sources.
Although not usually recommended as part of a healthy diet, boosted cereals can be a good source of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. Food enrichment involves adding nutrients that are not originally in the food.
For example, high fiber fiber flakes provide about 140% of the RDI for vitamin B12 per 30 grams (varies by brand).
The same portion of cereals also contains 140% of the RDI for vitamin B6 and good amounts of vitamins A, C and E.
Research shows that eating enriched cereals every day helps to boost vitamin B12 levels.
In fact, one study found that when participants ate a glass (240 ml) of enriched cereals containing 4.8 µg of vitamin B12 per day for 14 weeks, their vitamin B12 levels increased significantly.
If you decide to use fortified cereals to increase your intake of Vitamin B12, be sure to choose a brand that is low in added sugar and high in fiber or whole grains.
SUMMARY: Cereals enriched with Vitamin B12 can also help you increase your Vitamin B12 levels. Serving 30 grams of high quality bran flakes provides about 137% of RDI (depending on brand).
6. tuna fish
Tuna fish are often eaten fish and an excellent source of nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Tuna fish contain high levels of vitamin B12, especially in the muscles under the skin known as dark muscles.
A 100 gram serving of fresh tuna contains almost 160% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
The same portion also contains a good amount of lean protein, phosphorus, selenium and vitamins A and B3.
Canned tuna also contains a fair amount of vitamin B12. In fact, a can (165 grams) of white tuna stored in water contains 85% of the RDI.
SUMMARY: 100 grams of boiled tuna provides 9.4 mcg of vitamin B12. This is 157% of RDI.
7. Enhanced yeast
Nutritional yeast is a good plant source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
It is a kind of yeast specially cultivated for use as food, not as leaven in bread and beer.
Vitamin B12 is naturally not present in food yeast. However, it is generally enriched, making it an excellent source of vitamin B12.
As with enriched cereals, vitamin B12 in food yeast is vegan because it is made synthetically.
Two tablespoons (16 grams) of nutritional yeast contain up to 130% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
One study added nutritional yeast to the raw vegan diet and found increased levels of vitamin B12 in the blood and helped reduce blood markers for vitamin B12 deficiency.
SUMMARY: Two tablespoons (16 grams) of nutritional yeast provide 7.8 mcg of vitamin B12. This is 130% of RDI.
Rainbow trout is considered one of the healthiest fish.
This freshwater species is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats and B vitamins.
A 100 gram serving of trout fillet provides about 125% of the RDI for vitamin B12 and more than 1300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (26).
The RDA for omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in combination is 250 to 500 mg.
Trout is also an excellent source of minerals such as manganese, phosphorus and selenium.
SUMMARY: A 100 gram serving of trout contains 7.5 mcg of vitamin B12. This is 125% of RDI.
Salmon is known to have one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is also an excellent source of Group B vitamins.
Half fillet (178 grams) cooked salmon may contain more than 80% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
The same portion also provides the incredible 4,023 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to its high fat content, salmon provides a large amount of protein, with about 40 grams in a half-fillet (178 grams).
SUMMARY: Half fillet (178 grams) of cooked salmon provides more than 80% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
10. Enriched vegetable milk
Vegetable milk is popular with those looking for a nutritious vegan substitute for cow’s milk.
While soy, almond and rice milk are not naturally rich in vitamin B12, they are generally fortified, making them an excellent source of this vitamin.
One example is soy milk, which can provide up to 45% of RDI for Vitamin B12 in a glass (240 ml).
For this reason, boosted plant milk can be a great option for those who want to increase their vitamin B12 intake and avoid deficiencies.
Like vitamin B12 in other enriched sources, vitamin B12 in plant milk is produced by synthesis, making it a vegan product.
SUMMARY: One glass (240 ml) of soy milk contains 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12, or 45% of RDI.
11. Milk and milk products
Milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of protein and many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12.
One glass (240 ml) of whole milk provides 18% of the RDI for Vitamin B12.
Among all cheeses, Swiss cheese has been shown to have the highest vitamin B12 content. 30 grams of Swiss cheese can contain about 16% of RDI.
All plain yogurt can also be a decent source. It can even help improve the vitamin B12 status of people with vitamin deficiency.
Interestingly, studies have shown that the body absorbs more vitamin B12 in milk and milk products than vitamin B12 in beef, fish or eggs.
A study of over 5,000 people has shown that dairy products may even be more effective than fish in raising vitamin B12 levels.
SUMMARY: Dairy products are an excellent source of vitamin B12. A glass of whole milk yoghurt provides up to 23% of the RDI, and a 28 g portion of Swiss cheese contains 16%.
Two large eggs (100 grams) provide about 22% of RDI for Vitamin B12, more than 28% of RDI for Vitamin B2.
Studies show that egg yolks have higher levels of vitamin B12 than egg whites and that vitamin B12 in egg yolks is easier to digest. Therefore, it is recommended to eat whole eggs, not just white ones.
In addition to getting a good dose of Vitamin B12, you’ll also get a good amount of Vitamin D. Eggs are one of the few foods that contain them naturally, with 9% of RDI in two large eggs.
SUMMARY: Two large eggs (100 grams) contain 1.3 mcg of vitamin B12. This is 28% of RDI.
Should You Take Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Vitamin B12 supplements are recommended for people at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
These include older, pregnant or lactating women, vegetarians and vegans, people with bowel problems and those who have undergone stomach surgery.
Both vitamin B12 in enriched sources and vitamin B12 in supplements are synthesized so it is vegan.
Vitamin B12 supplements can be found in several forms. You can swallow, chew, drink or inject them or place them under your tongue.
Studies have shown that vitamin B12, taken orally and injected into the muscle, is just as effective in restoring vitamin B12 levels in people with vitamin deficiency.
In fact, one study found that people with low levels of Vitamin B12 fill their stores after 90 days of supplements or injections of Vitamin B12.
SUMMARY: Vitamin B12 supplements are recommended for people who avoid animal products or whose absorption is reduced. They can be found in various forms and the dosage ranges from 150 to 2000 mcg.
Vitamin B12 is the essential nutrient your body needs for many basic functions.
It can be found in large quantities in animal products, fortified foods and nutritional supplements. Some of the richest sources are liver, beef, sardines, mussels and dairy products.
Whether you want to increase your vitamin reserves or prevent deficiency, consuming these foods can greatly improve your overall health.