Most of the foods rich in vitamin B12 come from animals, but there are some plants that can provide it as well. Because B12 assists everything from cell development to mood stability, it's an important part of anyone's diet.
List of Foods Rich in B12
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recommends a minimum of 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. You can meet that requirement with a cup of milk and a cup of raisin bran, or by eating one cup of plain low-fat yogurt, one egg and one chicken breast.
The human body tends to store several years' worth of this vitamin -up to 20 years worth in fact- so it's extremely rare to have a deficiency. The elderly are most at risk of having vitamin B12 deficiencies. You can get the most B12 from:
|Food||Estimated Amount of B12 (% of DRV)||Serving Size|
|Nutritional yeast||180||1 Tbsp|
|Brewer's yeast||5||2 Tbsp|
|Fortified cereal||varies by type||1-2 cups|
|Regular yogurt||18||8 oz|
|Greek yogurt||20||8 oz|
|Soy milk||50||1 cup|
|Milk, low-fat||18||1 cup|
|Calf's liver||1178||3 oz|
|Lamb (lean cuts)||up to 62 (shoulder)||3 oz|
|Cheese||up to 15 (Swiss)||1 oz|
|Egg (yolk included)||10||1 large|
Sea plants like algae, kelp, spirulina and nori used to be considered acceptable sources of B12. However, these may not actually be the best sources of B12 because they may not be usable within the human body (they don't contain "active" B12) and, in some cases, could even hinder the use of B12 from other sources, according to VeganHealth.org. The same is true for some fermented foods.
B12 Intake Concerns
The human body absorbs nutrients more efficiently from food than from vitamin supplements, so consuming foods rich in vitamin B12 is the best way to get the recommended dietary allowance. Vitamin B12 benefits many vital aspects of physiology, and without it you can suffer fatigue, mania or depression. Longer-term deficiencies of vitamin B12 can result in anemia and permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B12 is involved in red blood cell development, the creation of nerve cells, and the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Taking B12 Supplements
The USDA National Agriculture Library recommends getting all of your B12 from food, not supplements. However, consult with your doctor if you think you may be in need of a supplement. This is especially important for vegans, as the majority of the sources are from animal products.
Depend on Your Diet
In most cases, it's safe to depend on your diet to maintain an adequate level of B12. Look to lean cuts of meat and other animal products for the most reliable sources.