Top 11 foods high in vitamin B12

The body does not naturally make vitamin B12. Therefore, it is essential to obtain adequate amounts from foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the production of DNA and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also critical for healthy nerve and brain function.
Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or vegetarian are at an increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg. For those at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, a practitioner may recommend additional daily requirements.
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Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the stomach. Any amount that is not used or excreted by the body is stored in the liver. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal products like dairy and meats. Fortified foods are good sources of B12 for those limiting meat and dairy products.
Below is a list of 11 foods that are rich in vitamin B12:
1. Organ Meats
Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidney, brain, tongue, and tripe are excellent sources of vitamin B12. Livers are exceptionally high in B12. Beef and veal livers are 990% of the RDI per 3.5 oz. serving. Lamb's liver is 1500% of the RDI per 3.5 oz. serving.
The kidneys of lamb, beef, and veal are also excellent sources of B12 offering 1300% of the RDI per 3.5 0z. serving. A typical 3 oz. portion of organ meats provides approximately 70 mcg of vitamin B12.
Organ meats also contain other valuable nutrients such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, E, and K. Organ meats are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, so it is important to keep consumption to 10% or less of total caloric intake.
2. Beef
Red meats such as steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburger, and sausages are great sources of vitamin B12. Red meats contain all of the eight essential amino acids needed for body growth and maintenance. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. Red meats are one of the best, complete sources of dietary protein.
One flat iron steak (186 gms) provides 200% of Recommended Daily Intake. A 3 oz. portion of beef offers 1.5 mcg of vitamin B12 per serving. Beef is also abundant in zinc, iron, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. Grilling or roasting meats preserve higher amounts of B12 than frying. Low-fat cuts of beef are also higher in B12, and other nutrients, than the high-fat cuts.
3. Salmon
Salmon is packed with heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids and provides 80% of the RDI for vitamin B12. A 3 oz. serving of salmon contains 4.9 mcg of B12. One-half of a cooked, salmon fillet (178 gms) provides 80% of the Recommended Daily Intake.
Salmon is nutrient dense, low in calories and fat, and high in protein. Properties found in salmon are thought to help combat dementia and cancer while boosting overall brain health.
4. Trout
Trout is another nutrient-rich cold water fish. Trout is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. Trout is packed with B12 containing 58% of the Recommended Daily Intake. A serving of 3 oz. contains 5.4 mcg of vitamin B12.
Additionally, trout is full of niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. Trout is also full of vitamin E, an antioxidant, which assists the body in the formation of red blood cells. Trout can provide 12% of the Daily Value for vitamin E.
5. Tuna
Water-packed, light canned tuna (3 oz.) provides 4.9 mcg of vitamin B12 and 85% of RDI allowances. One, 3.5 oz. serving of fresh tuna contains 160% of the recommended allowance.
Tuna has less than 50 mg of cholesterol and sodium per serving making it a healthy food option. Tuna fish is full of omega 3 fatty acids, lean protein, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B-3, and D.
6. Sardines
Sardines are packed with vitamin B12; containing 200% of the RDI in 150 gms of canned sardines. Sardines provide double the amount of RDI in one serving. Sardines are most commonly found canned in water and oil, but they can be consumed fresh.
These little fish are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D, calcium, niacin, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
Sardines are high in sodium and calories so consume in moderation. When consumed in healthy amounts, sardines can reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and slow cell damage.
7. Clams
Clams are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Clams are low in fat and high in lean protein. Twenty small clams have a staggering 3,300% of the RDI for vitamin B12.
Clam broth, even without the clams, contains 2.7-14.1 mcg of vitamin B12 per 3.5 oz. serving. Clam broth can provide 1600% of the recommended daily requirements. These mighty mollusks also have additional vitamins and minerals such as niacin, zinc, selenium, iron, antioxidants, and magnesium.
8. Fortified Cereals
For the healthiest options in fortified cereals, choose varieties that are high in fiber, whole grains, and low in sugar. Multi-grain Cheerios have 21 mcg of B12 in 3/4 cup or 100 grams. The same serving size of Malt-O-Meal Fiber Bran Flakes contains 137% of the recommended allowances. Instant oatmeal (most varieties and flavors) provides 14 mcg of B12 per serving. Grab a spoon and get a healthy dose of goodness and nutrients.
Include a serving of milk or fortified non-dairy milk to your cereal for an increased amount of vitamin B12. Fortified foods are an excellent way for children and adults to consume adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, D, E, and C.
9. Fortified Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is different from brewers yeast. Nutritional yeast is grown on a variety of sources such as blackstrap molasses, whey, and sugar beets. Brewers yeast is grown on hops and is a by-product of the beer making process. Nutritional yeast has a savory, nutty, and cheese-like flavor that can be added to, or sprinkled on, foods. Additionally, it is gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar, low in fat, and high in protein.
One-fourth a cup of nutritional yeast has 17.60 mcg of B12, 8 gms of protein, and 3 gms of fiber. Two tbsp. of nutritional yeast has 7.8 mcg of B12. Furthermore, it contains thiamine (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), B-6, B-3, potassium, calcium, and iron. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast on vegetables, pasta, and salads for a nutrient-packed punch.
10. Milk and Dairy
Milk and dairy have a long list of benefits; they help prevent osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and hypertension. One cup of whole milk has 18% of the RDI for vitamin B12, one slice (28 gms) of swiss cheese has 16% of the RDI, and two large eggs have 22% of the Recommended Daily Intake.
One of the healthiest and highest dairy sources of B12 is 6 oz. of full-fat yogurt totaling 23% of the daily requirements. Milk, cheeses, and yogurt are good sources for protein and vitamin B12. Research shows that the body absorbs greater amounts of B12 when consumed in milk and dairy forms versus red meat, eggs, and fish.
11. Fortified Non-Dairy Milk
Fortified non-dairy milk is a great alternative for vegans, those with dietary restrictions, allergies or lactose intolerance. Regular, whole milk is higher in saturated fat and calories than many non-dairy varieties making it a wise dairy substitute. One cup of regular, cow's milk has 150 calories and 8 gms of fat.
There are different varieties of non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, coconut, oat, rice, and cashew. Although most non-dairy milks are not naturally good sources of vitamin B12, when fortified, non-dairy milk is adequate substitutes for dairy.
For example, 1 c. (240 ml) of fortified soy milk has 2.6 mg or 45% RDI for vitamin B12. One cup of fortified almond milk has 50% of the daily values for vitamin B12. Enriched coconut milk (8 oz.) provides 25% daily requirements for B12, in addition to calcium, and vitamins A and D.
Signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include nervousness, dizziness, numbness, and tingling of the fingers and toes. Additionally, symptoms may involve weakness, weight loss, mouth and tongue tenderness, and confusion. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to mobility problems and memory loss.
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A health care provider can check B12 levels with a blood test. Deficiencies are typically easily treatable with supplements and injections. If you feel you may be deficient in vitamin B12, consult with a practitioner to discuss possible treatment plans.

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