Vitamin B12 is an extremely important vitamin and nutrient for your body. Also called Cobalamin, it’s so important that when your body doesn’t get enough of it, it could cause depression, fatigue, anemia, mania, and even possibly permanent brain damage if the deficiency lasts long enough.
One of the most important things about vitamin B12 is that it cannot – repeat cannot – be manufactured inside your own body. The only way to get the vitamin B12 that your body needs is either through supplements or by consuming animal products high in vitamin B12.
Luckily, when you take in too much vitamin B12 for your body to process, it’s able to excrete the excess or store it in your liver – so there’s no way to overdose on vitamin B12.
How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need Per Day?
In general, it’s recommended that the suggested daily allowance of vitamin B12 is between 0.4 and 2.8μg per day, and the recommended daily value of vitamin B12 is 6μg per day.
The reason why the recommended daily value is higher is because your body can excrete any excess vitamin B12 without being harmed by it, meaning that it’s easy for your body to tolerate extra vitamin B12.
For infants less than 6 months old, the recommended daily allowance is 0.4μg. Children from 7 to 12 months old should get 0.5μg, while children between 1 year and 3 years old should be getting 0.9μg per day.
As children get older, they need more vitamin B12. Children from 4 to 8 years old require 1.2μg/day, while children from 9 to 13 require 1.8μg/day. Anyone more than 14 years old has a recommended daily allowance of 2.4μg, with pregnant and lactating women needing slightly more.
Here are the best foods that are highest in vitamin B12 for your diet.
The Best Foods Highest In Vitamin B12
1. Cooked Clams
Cooked clams (and some other types of shellfish) are extremely high in vitamin B12. They top the list for foods that are highest in vitamin B12 per serving.
100 grams of cooked clams give you 98.9μg of vitamin B12 – or more than 1600% of your suggested daily value.
2. Beef Liver
Beef liver is the animal product with the second highest amount of natural vitamin B12 in it. It contains 83.1μg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams, adding up to nearly 1400% of your daily value.
Remember to avoid eating too much beef liver and other types of liver (including foie gras and chicken liver pate) if you are struggling with high cholesterol or heart disease.
3. Lamb Kidney
Lamb kidney is a huge source of vitamin B12. If you enjoy the taste, it’s a great way to get way more vitamin B12 than your body needs.
75 grams of cooked lamb kidney gives you 59.2μg – or almost 10 times the daily value you need.
4. Fortified Bran Cereals
Many bran cereals and other types of cereals come fortified with high levels of vitamin B12. Those cereals can have up to 20μg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams, making it an excellent choice to start your morning and get the vitamin B12 your body needs.
Mackerel (and many other types of fish) contain good amounts of vitamin B12 that your body needs.
Mackerel itself contains 19μg per 100 grams, making it the top fish on the list for a good source of vitamin B12.
Atlantic kippered herring is a great source of vitamin B12. It contains 14μg per 75 grams – making it one of the best foods to eat if you want to get a lot of vitamin B12 fast (and you like the taste of herring!)
7. Crab Meat
Crab and other crustaceans are foods that are high in naturally occurring vitamin B12. 100g of crab meat gives you 11.5μg of vitamin B12 – almost 200% of your daily value.
Beef, and other types of red meat, are an excellent source of vitamin B12. 100 grams of beef gives you 6μg of vitamin B12 – your entire daily value.
9. Swiss Cheese
Cheeses are also an excellent source of vitamin B12, being animal products that, when eaten in moderation, are healthy for you.
You get 3.1μg from 100 grams of swiss cheese – which gives you approximately 50% of your daily value of vitamin B12.
10. Fortified Soy
Any soy products that have been fortified with vitamin B12 are great candidates for getting you the vitamin B12 you need.
Many fortified soymilks and other soy products contain 2.4μg per 100 grams of serving, which means you’re getting 40% of your daily value from one 100 gram serving.
11. Tuna Canned In Water
For an easy fish fix, it’s hard to go wrong with canned tuna. And for a vitamin B12 fix, it’s a great option too.
One 75 gram serving of canned tuna gives you 2.2μg, getting you almost all of your recommended daily allowance and a little more than a third of your daily value.
Chicken eggs are a great source of vitamin B12. You get about 1.5 to 1.6μg of vitamin B12 from 2 whole large eggs.
In general, the most vitamin B12 is in the yolk of a chicken egg, so don’t cut out the yolks if you want to get the vitamin B12 your body needs!
What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 has several different health benefits that make a huge difference in how your body feels and functions as it goes through its day.
On a daily basis, vitamin B12 provides your body with the energy and endurance you need to accomplish your goals. If you’re not getting enough vitamin B12, you could develop anemia, which can cause weakness and hamper your ability to do everything you want to do in a day.
Vitamin B12 also provides long term health benefits. It has been shown to potentially protect against dementia and cognitive decline due to aging – although more research is needed.
In addition, studies have demonstrated that vitamin B12 deficiencies can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B12 also can help protect against heart disease, and even has been shown to reduce cancer risk by protecting your body’s ability to repair DNA and replicate it successfully.
Who Is At Risk Of A Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
People at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include vegetarians and vegans – which makes sense since the human body can’t create vitamin B12 on its own and it’s mostly found in animal products.
People with pernicious anemia are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency – and need regular vitamin B12 injections to get the B12 they need.
A hugely common condition that stops your body from being able to absorb all the vitamin B12 it needs is called atrophic gastritis. Between one third and one half of all adults over 50 have this condition – and thus are at greater risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency.
more: Top 10 Vitamin B12 Foods
Finally, pregnant women and women who are lactating and who are also vegetarian or vegan remain at greater risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, do to their higher daily need for vitamin B12, as well as the lack of animal products in their diet.
The Best Foods High In Vitamin B12
- Cooked clams
- Beef liver
- Lamb kidney
- Fortified bran cereals
- Crab meat
- Swiss cheese
- Fortified soy
- Tuna canned in water