Knowing which foods are rich in vitamin B12 is essential to be able to consume it naturally, without having to resort to supplements, which there are, but are not necessary in the vast majority of cases. As we shall see later on, these are indicated in specific cases, although they are also used when, on their own initiative, food of animal origin is not to be consumed. Thus, it ends up being consumed, even if artificially.
In order to give you an accurate idea of whether the amounts of vitamin B12 in each food are many or few and, of course, to design a proper diet, it is important to know that the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 for a person is 2.4 micrograms. Pregnant women will take a little more, 2.8 micrograms. Infants up to 6 months of age will only need 0.4 micrograms. This amount will increase gradually as the child grows to 14 years of age, which already requires a normal amount of adult (2.4 micrograms).
The vast part of the food in which we find vitamin B12 is of animal origin. Just as other vitamins or minerals are found in vegetables, with vitamin B12 the exact opposite occurs, i. e. that the foods richest in this nutrient are animals.
This point is important and is the main reason why we see that vegan or vegetarian people often suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency quite often if they do not follow a correct diet, just as those who practice what is known as a “normal” diet may also have low vitamin B12 if not enough is given.
In any case, these are foods rich in vitamin B12 of animal origin:
First of all, if not otherwise stated, the figures for vitamin B12 that we offer correspond to 100 grams of the food in question.
Lean pieces of vaccine shall have 2 micrograms per 100 grams of product.
The loin and beef tenderloin contain an incredible 13 micrograms per 100.
The lowest category cuts obviously have a lower concentration of 1.4 micrograms per 100.
Semi-fat veal and sirloin of yearl remain at 1 microgram per 100.
The supply animal’s liver, which feeds on natural food (cereals, grass, fodder and the like) can offer up to 30 micrograms at 100.
Liver pate: It is equally rich but will depend on whether it is reduced with other ingredients. It is more palatable than taking the raw viscera but, because of its treatment, the nutrient is less. This food also increases bad cholesterol, so it is advisable to take it with seed bread, which reduces the absorption of saturated fat. We do not recommend taking it often either, as there are many other options.
Breast: The chicken breast cut is really rich in B12. Half a medium sized breast has also 30 micrograms. Of course, without skin and only cooked.
Fish, in general, is a rich source of vitamin B12, although we can highlight some pieces that allow us to obtain the daily amount of cobalamin that the body needs.
Mackerel: 100 grammes of clean mackerel provide 8 micrograms of vitamin B12.
Herring: Herring also offers similar values.
Salmon: However, a much more balanced option for the rest of its composition is salmon, as it has many other essential benefits for the body such as omega 3. As for B12, we found that it has 10 micrograms for a medium portion of about 150 grams of grilled salmon.
Tuna: Natural tuna has about the same amount, so it is also considered one of the foods rich in vitamin B12. If you prefer canned fish, know that it stays in a not insignificant 3 micrograms; ideal for those who do not tolerate well the taste of tuna. This fish is also rich in other vitamins of group A and D.
Cod: It is followed by cod, of course, with half the amount of cobalamin that the tuna.
Sardine: The sardine is similar to tuna in terms of general vitamin intake, although, if we focus on B12, say it offers 7.6 micrograms per 85 grams of this fish.
Attention because it also contains iodine, phosphorus, selenium and a good dose of polyunsaturated fatty acids, a really complete food. That is, we are faced with a complete and ideal food in practically any diet.
Caviar: 35 grams of caviar offer us the total daily amount of vitamin B12 that we need in our organism.
White fish eggs: They are a bit less nutritious in terms of this substance, although they are within reach of any pocket.
Among the crustaceans, those that have a high nutrient value of type B12 are crab, but there are some others.
Crab: Every 100 grams of crab has no less than 10 micrograms of vitamin B12. It may seem that compared to some meats it is not too much, but it should be borne in mind that crab in itself is usually sold purer and of a higher quality than food of animal origin and that its cooking usually transforms less of all its nutrients so, if we count it all together, it is not such a bad option.
It is also very low in calories and contains chromium, which regulates blood glucose levels.
Others: Although in smaller proportions, many other crustaceans have a contribution of B12 to take into account. If you prefer lobster, shrimp, crayfish or lobster, you will take 1 microgram of cobalamin per 100 grams. It is 10 times less than the amount of crab but it is still interesting to keep in mind to vary your diet.
Molluscan shellfish is the big asset of those who hate fish but want a balanced diet. Let’s look at some examples of the contribution that this type of seafood can make in relation to cobalamin.
Clam: The clam takes first place in terms of foods containing vitamin B12. It offers 1 microgram of that nutrient per gram of food, i. e. a 100-gram serving has 100 micrograms of B12.
Oysters and mussels: Two good alternatives to clams are oysters and mussels. Although they do not have such a high proportion of vitamin B12, they do stand out, and very much with respect to other foods, with values close to 20 – 25 micrograms per 100 grams of product.
Octopus: In the octopus we find about 20 micrograms of cobalamin per 100 grams. In addition, it is rich in iron, has a good amount of protein and contains selenium.
Finally, it should be pointed out that these quantities are always gross, i. e. taking into account the highest quality pieces and without any cooking treatment. These two factors can alter the contribution of each of the foods rich in vitamin B12.
Eggs, dairy products and their derivatives
Eggs: A Class L egg provides 1.3 micrograms. It should be noted that the nutrient that concerns us is found exclusively in the yolk so it is not necessary to take the clear as well as a unique contribution of egg whites will not offer us the vitamin.
A glass of skimmed milk includes 1 microgram of vitamin B12.
Whole milk, on the other hand, offers us 18% of the amount we need.
The emmental has 3 micrograms at 100.
The camembert, 2.8 micrograms.
The cottage cheese and gruyere go down at 2.
The gouda and brie cheeses remain at 1.7 micrograms.
Goat cheese and cheese ball have 1.5 micrograms.
Fresh cheeses are much poorer in vitamin B12 than dry ones because they contain a lot of water.
Yoghurt: A low-fat yoghurt provides a quarter of the vitamin B12 needed in a 2000-calorie diet and the whole yoghurt 15%.
These are foods with a greater amount of vitamin B12 that can be used for a full breakfast, lunch or a snack so if we do it well, cobalamin does not have to be eaten in large doses only at lunch or dinner time.
The amount of vitamin B12-rich foods available means that we can take it slowly and naturally, without forcing our intake.
Infographic: Top 10 foods with the highest amount of B12
Foods with vitamin B12 of vegetable origin
Although we have already mentioned that a plant-based diet cannot provide enough vitamin B12, there are some plant-based foods that contain it. Of course, they cannot be considered to be foods with a special amount of B12.
It is a derivative of fermented soybean.
The amount of vitamin B12 is 0.1 micrograms per 100 grams of product.
Trumpet of death and chanterelle. Its vitamin B12 levels per 100 grams of product are in 2.2 micrograms.
Shiitake and lion mane fungus. These have a quantity of 5 micrograms per 100.
The problem with vitamin B12 in algae is that it is not active, i. e. it does not reproduce by bacterial synthesis.
Green laver or slake. This has a considerable amount in relation to the rest of vegetables, 63 micrograms at 100. The problem is that it’s not easy to take 100 grams of seaweed of any kind.
Nori seaweed. The well-known Japanese seaweed has 30 micrograms per 100 grams of food. It also includes provitamin A, polyunsaturated fatty acids and iron.
Dulse. The null algae, on the other hand, remains at 9 micrograms.
Akame and kombu. These are already down to 3 micrograms, however, are also options for those vegan people.
There are some vegetables that contain vitamin B12. However, its quantity is minimal and considered as “traces”. Examples include mung soya bean sprouts, broccoli or asparagus. Proponents of propionic bacteria or lactic acid bacteria: These do offer a slightly higher amount of cobalamin. They are found in cabbage or cucumber and in vegetable products that are indeed produced by fermentation with lactic acid.
Vitamin B12 fortified foods
As we said before, there are not many options for people who are vegan, because they don’t even eat derived foods such as milk, eggs or cheese. Do not confuse veganism with vegetarianism, a philosophy that does accept these last foods that we have discussed and whose practitioners do, therefore, have options to eat vitamin B12 in their usual diet.
In any case, vegans and vegetarians will often have to resort to vitamin B12 fortified foods, especially vegans and vegetarians. These are foods that usually do not have this nutrient but are fortified industrially to be added.
Cereals: The most common is to find this addition of B12 in breakfast cereals. It is a very good solution to avoid vitamin deficiency, however, processed foods are far from being part of a healthy diet.
Soy beverage: Another food that usually comes with an extra cobalamin to try to get the body to take it by other means.
Shakes: It is also common to find shakes, including chocolate shakes, designed to make the drink more appetising.
Vitamin B12 supplements
The B12 supplement is different from fortified food; it should not be confused. While the latter is, as we have said, a supermarket food which is artificially included in cobalamin, supplements are the presentation of vitamin B12 in different formats and whether or not it is accompanied by other substances.
Depending on the composition of the supplement, we have:
Vitamin B12 exclusively: You can take a supplement that includes only vitamin B12, which are the most suitable for vegans.
B12 and others: They are vitamin complexes that mix this with many or few other vitamins, so that each composition is suitable for specific deficiencies.
B12 and more vitamins and minerals: They are more complete complexes designed for those people who, in general, suffer from malabsorption due to problems in the different organs.
Depending on the format, we find vitamin B12 in:
Pills: The pills are the formats that conceive the most complete complexes, although only vitamin B12 is dispensed in this way. They are found in pharmacies and do not require a prescription, although it is always advisable to consult a specialist who prepares an appropriate diet and, depending on this diet, establishes the dose of vitamin B12 in a corresponding supplement.
Sublingual Format: The sublingual format is more comfortable because it only requires the compound to dissolve quickly under the tongue. Ideal for those with pharyngeal problems. Vitamin is said to be best absorbed, but this is not proven.
Injectables: Vitamin B12 is also dispensed as an injectable. However, on this occasion it should be prescribed by a doctor after analysis. When injected directly into the muscle, it does not need to carry out the entire lengthy process of transport and absorption, which is why this format is given to those who present problems along either of these two processes.
Nasal gels: As in the previous case, vitamin B12 nasal gel should be prescribed by a doctor after a thorough check-up with the patient and checking that there are no other satisfactory solutions.
Infography: Better foods containing Vitamin B12
*Weight equivalents: 1 OZ = approx. 28 gr.
Vitamin B12 is very easy to find and consume naturally. Nowadays, having a shortage of cobalamin because of a poor diet in this nutrient is practically impossible in the first world, because with the amount of food rich in vitamin B12 that we have we take it without realizing it; we do not need to take control.
It is clear that, unfortunately, a vegan diet does not have enough vitamin B12-rich foods for the body to function properly. Although there are many foods with a high content in this nutrient, unfortunately, they are all banned in this lifestyle. Vitamin B12 supplementation is absolutely necessary if a more or less balanced diet is to be followed.
Vegetarianism, on the other hand, which is more tolerant when it comes to dieting, can allow you to take the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 without having to resort to outside sources. However, we are not saying at all that a vegetarian diet provides everything the organism needs; simply in terms of cobalamin, by making a proper meal planing, it could be achieved, although the diet would not be too varied.
In either case, it is advisable to carry out a thorough check-up, visiting a doctor who can determine your B12 level and whether you need to modify your diet or include cobalamin supplements so that you don’t suffer from a lack of B12 (with the terrible consequences that this entails). And for those who eat everything, it is also advisable to know the levels of this and other nutrients by performing a complete blood test.