Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that serves multiple functions to the human body. This nutrient maintains the health and vitality of our body cells and nerves, helping the body to undergo folate metabolism and protein-synthesis. It is an essential vitamin to support the development of red blood cells and managing your neuro health.
Since Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, the body does not store this vitamin. Moreover, the human body does not produce vitamin B12 naturally. Thus, you need to get this vitamin by adding vitamin B12 rich foods to your diet or by taking some B12 supplements readily available in the market.
Over the years, research and studies have shown that Vitamin B12 is naturally found in meat and dairy products like meat, poultry, eggs, organ parts, milk, etc. It is also found that though Vitamin B12 is present in lower concentrations in plant sources, they are not absorbed by the body as efficiently done from animal foods. In this case, for vegetarians and those who abstain from meat, fortified cereals and yeast products prove to be good sources of Vitamin B12.
An adult human body needs an average of 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily to ensure there is no deficiency of this crucial mineral. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 means either the body cannot readily absorb the vitamin from the food we eat or we are not consuming the required food to provide our body with the vitamin in adequate quantities.
Understanding this can prevent deficiency and in effect, resist the body’s falling prey to anemia or weakness, palpitation, poor appetite, dull skin, or the side-effects of a weak Central Nervous System (CNS). The following list of foods can help you maintain the optimal levels of vitamin B12.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Clams, one of the varieties of shellfish, have the highest vitamin B12 among all kinds of food categories. Every 3 ounces of clams give you around 84.1 micrograms of vitamin B12 which is much higher than the daily recommended value of this vital nutrient in an adult human body.
Additionally, clams are also a potent source of potassium, zinc, minerals, vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids thus, the consumption of clams can help you attain sound cardiovascular health and metabolism, and prevent anemia and kidney diseases.
Clams can be added to bring taste and nutrition to your daily food as deep-fried, boiled, or grilled varieties. But, you need to be careful about the source of clams. You should always choose clean water clams to avoid any unwanted effects.
Summary: Clams have the highest vitamin B12 content among all the foods. This seafood is rich in other nutrients. especially potassium.
Sardines, also known as pilchards, are the small, oily, silver-scaled, soft-boned fish packed with powerful nutrients. Sardines contain almost all the nutrients that your body needs to stay fit and active. Rich in protein, phosphorus, calcium, iron, omega-3 fats, riboflavin, and essential vitamins like vitamin 6 and vitamin B-12, sardines are a pocket-friendly superfood for your body.
You can buy it fresh from the local fish market or you can opt for canned sardines available in the supermarkets. The canned version of sardines is packed with either water or oils like olive oil or soybean oil.
Sardines work wonders to improve your cardiovascular health, bone health, brain health, and helps in reducing inflammation, maintaining an optimal hormonal balance, and aiding the formation of red blood cells in the body. One serving of canned sardine can meet half of your daily requirement of calcium and almost 20% of the protein requirement.
The best part is that sardines taste good so you can enjoy them as part of your salads, curries, pizza toppings, as sandwich stuffing, or just eat them straight from the can with a little seasoning of lemon juice or your favorite sauce.
Both males and females adults are recommended to ensure that they consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 in a day. With every 3-ounce serving of sardines, you get 7.6 micrograms of vitamin B12 which is a little more than 3 times the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B12. So, include this superfood in your diet today.
Summary: Studies have proven that sardines are one of the best and most easily available sources of vitamin B12. Moreover, it is an inexpensive source of vitamin B12.
Tuna is a carnivorous species of fish that you find in the oceanic saltwater. The fish is widely known for its rich vitamin B12 content, both in fresh and canned versions. While the fresh fish is definitely higher in terms of nutrients, canned tuna is more easily available and ready to prepare. Canned tuna is packed in water, oils, sauces, or broth.
Tuna is also a potent source of the mineral selenium which is present in it as selenoneine. Selenoneine has antioxidant properties. Apart from vitamin B12 and selenium, tuna also gives you lots of protein, phosphorus, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin D. Additionally, this species of fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Every 3 ounces of canned Tuna would give you 2.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 which is almost equal to your daily requirement of this essential nutrient. Different varieties of tuna vary widely in size but you can recognize it with its dark red flesh which is unusual in most of the fishes. Tuna has a mild flavor that allows you to experiment with it and blend with different spices, ingredients, and sauces.
Summary: Tuna is one of the most vital sources of the micronutrient selenium. Selenium has antioxidant properties that can protect the human body from 50 ailments relating to the heart, lungs, prostate, and intestines.
Beef, the meat of cattle, is a potent source of vitamin B12. Often called the ‘red meat’, this is one of the superfoods that have a ruminant origin. Apart from vitamin B12, beef provides some of the most vital nutrients to the human body, including protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Beef is also appreciated for its antioxidant properties.
You can find hundreds of varieties of beef in the market, but in general, every 3 ounces of broiled beef would give you 1.4 micrograms of vitamin B12, making almost 58% of your daily requirement of vitamin B12.
The quality of red meat is important to avoid any negative impacts on health. The quality can be ensured through its color, texture, pulpiness, and smell.
However, you should also ensure that you do not rely on beef as the primary source of vitamin B12 due to its high content of saturated fat which can cause you to have high cholesterol levels. The level of nutrients obtained from the beef also depends on the cut of the meat.
Summary: Beef is a great source of vitamin B12 but the actual amount of nutrients obtained vary significantly according to the variety of beef, its cut, and the cooking process.
Trout is a fresh-water fish, native to North America, however, it is now exported and available throughout the world. Trout is a cousin-fish of the Salmon and a well-known source of Vitamin B12. Additionally, studies reveal that it also contains rich omega-3 fatty acids.
One particular variety of trout called the rainbow trout is especially well-known for its taste, availability, and nutrition. Every three ounces of cooked wild rainbow trout provide a staggering 5.4 micrograms of vitamin B12. As compared to this, three ounces of cooked farmed rainbow trout provide you 3.5 micrograms of Vitamin B12, which amounts to 146% of the daily value of this vital nutrient needed for the human body.
This gives us a good reason to consider consuming trout and being prepared to be healthy and fortified with the right nutrients. Consuming such a rich source of Vitamin B12 will put you off the charts for many ailments including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage and loss of balance or fatigue.
Summary: Trout is a commonly available seafood source of vitamin B12. Cooked wild rainbow trout has more nutrition than the farmed ones.
Salmon, the heart-healthy fish, is often categorized as the oily fish. Being an oily fish means that Salmon has rich Omega-3 fatty acids. Its flesh, usually of pink color, contains high amounts of protein and minerals. Not many of us know that Salmon contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant with proven health benefits, especially for the heart, muscles, and skin.
Salmon also possesses a good percentage of Vitamin B12. Research shows that three ounces of salmon fish provide 4.8 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is exactly the double of the required daily value of this essential vitamin for the human body.
You can buy salmons as fillets or steaks, whatever is available at ease. However, wild salmon is considered to be a better variety than the farmed ones, proving to be a good source of Vitamin B12 for the body. Also, the studies show that smoked Salmon contains lesser amounts of nutrients than other varieties owing to its high sodium content.
Summary: Salmon is an excellent source of Vitamin B12. However, being an oily fish, it should not be consumed daily. The maximum intake should be limited to four times a week.
Animal Liver and Kidneys
Animal organ parts sometimes referred to as ‘offal’ and inclusive of animal liver and kidneys, have proven to be excellent sources of Vitamin B12 in the body. These are also sometimes referred to as ‘superfoods’ because of their rich content in vitamins and power-packed nutrients.
The body requires an ideal daily value of 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 to thrive and stay healthy, and one sure-shot way of upping this requirement comes from animal organ parts, namely liver, and kidneys. A 3.5-ounce beef liver is shown to provide 70.7 mcg of Vitamin B12 or the body, which is dramatically 2946% of the total daily value required for the body.
Amid these benefits, it is essential to have these organs cleaned completely before cooking and consumption so as to kill any residual bacteria present in the parts. Apart from Vitamin B12, these parts also are a good source of Vitamin A and Omega 3 fatty acids, increasing the cardioprotective effect that consuming these can provide.
Summary: Animal liver and kidneys contain high amounts of vitamin B12. While it is more common to consume muscle meat, liver and kidneys have greater nutritional content.
Breakfast is indeed the main meal of our day. A great beginning to the day comes with a breakfast complete with nutrients to get your body up and running. It has been years now since breakfast cereals have taken over the responsibility of providing a wholesome breakfast to all, packed with minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins.
One important vitamin in the mix is Vitamin B12. The vitamin is mostly found in meat sources, and so, to find the wholesome goodness of Vitamin B12 in breakfast cereals is a dream-come-true for vegans and vegetarians.
There are various brands out there that offer delectable choices in fortified nutritional cereals, which are ready to eat. The vitamin B12 content however varies across brands. On an average, per serving of breakfast cereal fortified with 25% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12 contains 0.6 micrograms of this B vitamin.
These cereals can be eaten with hot milk or cold milk, as preferred. Once consumed, the Vitamin B12 supplement would effectively be absorbed by the body and since the vitamin is water-soluble, the excess will not be stored in the body but will be eliminated through urine.
Summary: Fortified cereals are an easily available and tasty option for vegetarians to meet their daily requirements of vitamin B12. The vitamin B12 content may vary across different brands of fortified cereals.
Fortified Non-Dairy Milk
Another vegan special for Vitamin B12, just when you thought your options for the consumption of Vitamin B12 comprises only supplements and capsules, we have the option of more natural products like dairy-free milk to provide with the required calcium and vitamin extracts.
Non-dairy or dairy-free milk is obtained from plant-based sources rather than animal sources. There are many non-dairy milk options, fortified with Vitamin B12, readily available in the market, as many brands are banking on the necessity and need for vegan products.
However, before you buy, it is important to check whether the food is fortified or not. Plant-based food naturally does not produce Vitamin B12 and hence, they need to be fortified with the vitamin.
Soy milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, almond milk, etc. are all available in fortified versions to help provide the necessary units of Vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians, beyond supplements.
Summary: Fortified non-dairy milk is a good option to include vitamin B12 in your daily diet. But, you must check the label carefully to observe the fortification details, sugar content, and other ingredients.
Amid the debate of whether the chicken came first or the eggs, it is indisputable that eggs are a wholesome food. With different types of eggs doing the rounds like organic, farm-fresh and more, the appeal of eggs in our world is unique, with a strong fan-following.
While many attribute eggs to being a good source of proteins, vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium, eggs have also proven to be a steady source of Vitamin B12. It is particularly good news for eggetarians who do not consume meat or do not want to indulge in other B12 supplements. 1 large egg including the yolk produces an equivalent of 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12. Yolk has higher levels of Vitamin B12 than the white of the egg.
A good intake of eggs can provide for your Vitamin B12 needs and help you combat the conditions prevailing due to deficiency including fatigue, nerve damage, loss of balance, numbness in legs and other neurological diseases.
However, it is also noteworthy that the consumption of too much eggs can lead to high cholesterol levels. It is therefore suggested to consume moderate amounts of eggs to ensure that only the positive impacts on the health are derived.
Summary: One large hard-boiled egg meets almost 25% of your daily requirement of vitamin B12. However, the remaining should be fulfilled by other vitamin B12 sources as too many eggs can lead to high cholesterol.
Milk and Dairy Products
Milk and other dairy products like cheese, butter, and yogurt are proven to be vital sources of vitamin B12, especially for vegetarians. One cup of low fat cow’s milk provides you with almost half of your daily recommended value of vitamin B12.
As suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), every adult needs 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily, 1 cup of low-fat milk gives around 1.2 micrograms of this vitamin. However, the amounts of vitamin B12 can vary depending upon the diet of the dairy cow and the method of processing the milk.
Research studies show that the vitamin B12 that you obtain from milk is highly bioavailable and thus better absorbed than meat products. If you are regularly taking milk, there are high chances that you won’t be vitamin B12 deficient.
Summary: Cow milk is considered to be an excellent source of vitamin B12 in vegetarian adults. The habit of one cup of milk daily can help you meet almost half the daily requirement of vitamin B12.
Fortified Nutritional Yeast
Fortified nutritional yeast is an interesting and tempting way to add the essential vitamin B12 to your diet, especially if you are a vegan. Nutritional yeast can be explained as the deactivated yeast originating from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It becomes fortified by adding synthetic nutrients that are added to it during the specific manufacturing process.
It is a great source of protein, zinc, selenium, and all the B vitamins, vitamin B12 as well. While nutritional yeast in itself is a great source of vitamin B12, it is fortified with vitamin B12 to offer added doses. The content of vitamin B12 per serving differs across various brands, depending upon the amounts of the fortified vitamin.
For example, nutritional yeast gives you 2.4 micrograms or 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12 if it is fortified with an equivalent amount of this vitamin.
Being 100% gluten-free, soy-free, and cholesterol-free, fortified nutritional yeast can be an ideal option for including vitamin B12 in the diet by those who are allergic to wheat or soy or are at a high risk of cardiovascular disorders.
Summary: Fortified nutritional yeast can fulfill 100% of your daily requirements of vitamin B12. You must check the product label to ensure the amounts of fortified content in a particular brand.
The Final Note
It is important for all human bodies to have a sufficient amount of Vitamin B12 intake for the smooth functioning of the body. With its essential factor, it also improves the quality of living, helping longevity and quick recovery from various ailments. It also helps produce red blood cells and is needed for effective DNA synthesis.
While it is a common belief that vegans don’t have options to suffice their daily requirements of vitamin B12, it is actually a myth. Even if you refrain from eating meat, you can add vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 to your diet like milk and other dairy products, vitamin B12 supplements, and vitamin B12 fortified food.
The best part is that vitamin B12 is not generally harmful, even if there is excess intake. Since it is water-soluble, even if you consume more than the required amounts of vitamin B12, the body absorbs only the required amount and discrete the remaining through urine.
However, it should be noted that an excessive intake of vitamin B12 is not a good idea. Maintaining the optimal levels of vitamin B12, according to your age, as have been prescribed under the guidelines of the U.S. Food Drug and Administration (FDA) is important.