Vitamin B12 is found in most foods of animal origin, therefore if your doctor tells you that you need to eat more of it, you'll have many foods to choose from. If you are a total vegetarian, you can still meet your needs, but you'll need to take supplements or eat B12-fortified foods.
Why Vitamin B12 Is Important
Vitamin B12 works with folate to make red blood cells. Some types of anemia are associated with a low vitamin B12 intake. B12 is also essential for a healthy nervous system.
Your nervous system also needs vitamin B12 to function properly. Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to memory impairment. Also if vitamin B12 levels get too low you can develop numbness and tingling in your hands and feet.
Along with folate and vitamin B6, vitamin B12 is helpful in lowering the level of the amino acid, homocysteine, in the blood by converting it to methionine, another amino acid. It has been hypothesized that at high levels, homocysteine might damage coronary arteries or make it easier for blood clotting cells to clump together and form a clot. This could increase your risk of
stroke. However, the homocysteine theory has had some setbacks, and there is currently no evidence that taking in more vitamin B12 lowers your risk of cardiovascular problems.
no RDA; AI = 0.4
no RDA; AI = 0.5
14 and older
There are many food sources of vitamin B12, as outlined in the table below. However, some people may consume enough of this vitamin, but not be able to absorb it all. This tends to occur as part of aging; your body may not be able to absorb vitamin B12 as well as when you were younger. Certain medications, especially those that lower stomach acid, may also interfere with B12 absorption from food. Discuss this with the doctor, and if this is the case, you may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Vitamin B12 Content
Clams, canned, drained
Oysters, Eastern, wild, cooked by moist heat
6 medium oysters
Bluefish, cooked by dry heat
Bass, striped, cooked by dry heat
Salmon, canned with bone
Beef tenderloin lean, broiled
Ground beef, lean, broiled
Cottage cheese, 1% fat
Yogurt, lowfat, fruit flavored
1 large egg
Pork loin, lean, broiled
Chicken, light meat, skinless, roasted
Turkey, light meat, skinless, roasted
Usable vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Seaweed, algae,and spirulina contain vitamin B12, but in a form that cannot be well absorbed by the body. Fermented plant foods such as tempeh and miso are often said to contain vitamin B12, but in actuality they contain virtually no measurable level of the vitamin.
Therefore, if you are a vegan (a vegetarian who does not eat eggs or dairy products) you will need to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take supplements. Commonly fortified foods include nutritional yeast, some breakfast cereals, soy milk products, and vegetarian burgers. Check the Nutrition Facts label on these foods for the amount of vitamin B12 they contain.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a