9 Foods to Boost Your Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for human health, and adults need about 2.4 micrograms every day. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to problems, such as pain, numbness, and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, a lack of B12 can result in depression, memory loss, and incontinence, among other problems. And because our bodies can’t make this vitamin, we must get it from the food we eat. Foods rich in vitamin B12 are all animal-based, leaving vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. But don’t worry—this vitamin B12 food list is long enough for everyone to find something they can enjoy.

  • Clam - Seafood
    Clams are one of the highest sources of vitamin B12. Just 3 ounces of clams (about a dozen medium-sized clams) packs more than 80 micrograms of vitamin B12. Clams also boast a bunch of other nutritious goodness—zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • raw beef liver with olive oil, spices and herbs on wood cutting board
    Good news for all liver-and-onions lovers—beef liver provides about 70 micrograms of B12 in a 3-ounce portion. It’s also a great source of protein and iron, but beware if you’re watching your cholesterol. Just 3 ounces of beef liver will put you significantly over half of your daily recommended amount of cholesterol. Depending on how it’s cooked, it could even be well over 100% of your daily cholesterol needs.
  • salmon-fillet
    Both trout and salmon are excellent sources of vitamin B12, offering more than double your daily requirements in just a 3-ounce portion. You can even get your full daily requirement from 3 ounces of canned tuna. Fish is also a healthy way to get plenty of protein in your diet while cutting down on red meat.
  • Sliced medium rare filet of beef
    If you prefer red meat, beef will also help you reach the recommended daily B12 value. In a 3-ounce portion, beef offers more than half of your B12 needs for the day. Beef is also packed with iron and potassium. Be careful to stick with that 3-ounce serving, though—beef also has a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Yogurt With Toppings
    Dairy products
    Yogurt, cheese and milk are all great vitamin B12 foods. A 6-ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt or a cup of milk will put you halfway to reaching your daily needs. Different cheese varieties offer different amounts of vitamin B12, so if you’re concerned about the amount you’re getting, be sure to check the label. A 1-ounce slice of Swiss cheese, for example, offers just under 1 microgram of B12.
  • traditional sliced honey glazed ham
    Ham and chicken
    Both ham and chicken are foods with vitamin B12. Ham has a slight edge, with 0.6 micrograms of B12 in a 3-ounce serving, compared with chicken’s 0.3 micrograms per 3-ounce portion. But remember, ham is a processed meat—and a red meat, despite how it is sometimes marketed to the public—so be mindful of your serving sizes and enjoy ham in moderation.
  • Hardboiled Eggs
    One large egg offers about a quarter of your daily B12 needs. Eggs are also a good source of protein and vitamin D. If you’re worried about the high amount of cholesterol found in eggs, let this put your concerns to rest: Studies have shown the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t raise cholesterol levels the same way that saturated fat does. Just pay attention to how you cook them—for example, boiled eggs are going to be healthier than eggs fried in butter.
  • Oatmeal
    Fortified foods
    These may be the top vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians and vegans. Since B12 isn’t found in plants, foods fortified with added vitamins and minerals can help you reach your vitamin B12 goal. Fortified breakfast cereals often offer an entire day’s worth of B12 in just one serving. Fortified soy milk may provide about half of your daily needs. Be sure to check the labels of any fortified foods you choose in order to make sure you’ll get enough B12—and any other vitamins and minerals you need.
  • Man taking vitamins or supplements from bottle
    While most healthy adults need about 2.4 micrograms of B12 every day, pregnant and breastfeeding women need a little more, and children need less. A multivitamin can help you reach that goal, so be sure to check the label. Keep in mind, however, that if your body has problems absorbing vitamin B12, a multivitamin won’t help. Some conditions increase the risk of B12 malabsorption, including diabetes, thyroid disease, Crohn’s disease, or celiac disease. If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery, you also may have an increased risk.
  • young woman with hand on chest and concern on face and trouble breathing
    When to see a doctor
    Some people may be at risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency even if they eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12. This happens when B12 isn’t absorbed properly, which can result in pernicious anemia and other problems. Some of the symptoms you might experience include diarrhea or constipation, shortness of breath, yellowish skin, nausea or vomiting, and bleeding gums. Over the long term, vitamin B12 deficiency can result in nervous system damage, causing numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, cognitive problems, depression, hallucinations, unsteadiness, and other problems.

    It’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, especially because many are also symptoms of other health conditions.
9 Foods to Boost Your Vitamin B12 | Foods for Vegetarians

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