Which Foods Are High in Vitamin B12?

Health and Nutrition


Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble essential vitamin. In its molecule is an atom of cobalt and hence the name cobalamin (1, 2). It has an important role to play in the body, it is required for DNA synthesis and for maintaining nerve myelin sheath (3).


Role of vitamin B12 in our body


Vitamin B12 is very important for appropriate utilization of folate in the body. If vitamin B12 is deficient in the body it can lead to folate deficiency too. Because of vitamin B12, folate requirement is kept at the level we right now are recommended, otherwise the amount of folate we need would be much higher (1).


It is also required in the metabolism or breakdown of certain amino acids and fatty acids. 


Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the maintenance of the myelin sheath that serves as an insulation for nerve cells. The speed with which the nerve impulses are passed depends on this myelin sheath.


Vitamin B12 plays a critical role along with other B vitamins in homocysteine metabolism. In vitamin B12 deficiency elevated levels of homocysteine are seen in blood. And elevated homocysteine levels are linked to cardiovascular issues (4, 5). 


Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12


RDA of vitamin B12 is 2.4 µg a day for healthy adults. The RDA during pregnancy increases to 2.6 µg and during lactation to 2.8 µg (4).


Which foods are good sources of vitamin B12?


We get vitamin B12 only from foods from animal sources. Vitamin B12 does not have any role to play in plants hence it is not found in plants. In animals it is the intestinal bacteria which make vitamin B12 not the animal itself. 

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient of concern for vegetarians and especially for vegans. Or for that matter anyone who takes foods of animal origin in less quantities. The solution to this problem is taking vitamin B12 fortified foods and vitamin B12 supplements (3).

Here are some foods which provide vitamin B12 (6, 7)

  1. Clams contain about 11.28 µg /100 grams vitamin B12. They are one of the richest sources of vitamin B12.


  1. Organ meats such as lamb liver provides 90.05 µg /100 grams. Liver from beef or any other organ meat generally is a good source of vitamin B12


  1. Fish whether it is tuna or salmon or mackeral provide certain amount of vitamin B12


Vitamin D/100 grams


Tuna: 9.43 µg /100 grams

Salmon: 4.15 µg /100 grams

Mackerel: 7.29 µg /100 grams


  1. Pork also is a fair source of vitamin B 12 0.7 µg /100 grams.


  1. Beef also provides vitamin B12, but not as much as organ meat. Beef contains 2.15 µg vitamin B12 in 100 grams.


  1. Crab is also a good source vitamin B12 that is about   11.5 µg /per 100 grams.


  1. Poultry is also a source of vitamin B12, chicken contains 0.3 µg per 100 grams.


  1. For lacto-ovo-vegetarians egg is a food that supplies about 0.9 µg /100grams. Since this group of people eat both milk products and eggs meeting vitamin B12 requirement becomes a little easier.  


  1. Lacto-vegetarians can also get some vitamin B12 from milk and other milk products. Milk provides 0.5 µg vitamin B12 from 100grams. Cheese whether it is Swiss cheese or Mozzarella cheese is a fair source of vitamin B12, Swiss cheese supplies 3.06 µg /100, mozzarella cheese contains 2.3 µg /100 grams and fresh cheese contains 1.68 µg /100 gms. Plain yogurt is a very popular food and it supplies about 0.4 µg vitamin B12 per 100grams


  1. Fortified foods such as fortified soy products, breakfast cereals, meat analogs, brewer’s yeast, energy drinks, rice milk, almond milk and other vegetarian foods. For vegans fortified foods become a major source of vitamin B12.


Final word


People with restricted diets such as strict vegetarians and vegans are at a risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. Deficiency of vitamin B12 is increasing among people because vegetarianism is on the rise worldwide (8). 


Foods fortified with vitamin B12 and supplements prescribed by a health care professional play a crucial role in meeting vitamin B12 requirements.




  1. Wildman, R. (2009) The Nutritionist-Food, Nutrition, and Optimal Health, Vitamins are vital molecules in food 191. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, Second Edition.   New York and London.


  1. Yeung, D. and Laquarta, I. (2003) Heinz Handbook of Nutrition, Vitamins 109, Ninth Edition. Distributed by H.J. Heinz Company.


  1. Zeuschner, C. L., Hokin, B.D., Marsh, K.A., Saunders, A.V., Reid, M.A. and Ramsay, M. R. (2013) Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets, Med J Aust. Vol. 199 (4).



  1. National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (2019). Vitamin B12.

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Vitamin B12 -HealthProfessional/#h5


  1. O’Leary, F. and Samman, S. (2010) Vitamin B12 in health and disease, Nutrients. Vol. 2(3). 



  1. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, United States Department of Agriculture. 



  1. Damayanti, D., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Beeson, W. L., Fraser, G., Oda, K. and Haddad, E. H. (2018) Foods and Supplements Associated with Vitamin B12 Biomarkers among Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Participants of the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) Calibration Study, Nutrients. Vol. 10 (6).



  1. Stabler, S.P. and Allen, R.H. (2004) Vitamin B12 deficiency as a worldwide problem, Annual Review of Nutrition. Vol. 24 (1).  


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

Looks good!
Please Enter Your Comment
Looks good!
Please Enter Your Name
Looks good!
Please Enter Your valid Email Id