omega 3 for tipsheet 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 ]]>heart attack]]> or ]]>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.

Recommended intake:

(micrograms; mcg)
0-6 monthsno RDA; AI = 0.4
7-12 monthsno RDA; AI = 0.5
1-3 years0.9
4-8 years1.2
9-13 years1.8
14 and older2.4

Food Sources

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.

FoodServing Size Vitamin B12 Content
Clams, canned, drained3 ounces84.1
Oysters, Eastern, wild, cooked by moist heat6 medium oysters14.7
Bluefish, cooked by dry heat3 ounces5.3
Bass, striped, cooked by dry heat3 ounces3.8
Salmon, canned with bone3 ounces3.7
Beef tenderloin lean, broiled3 ounces2.2
Ground beef, lean, broiled3 ounces2.0
Cottage cheese, 1% fat1 cup1.4
Yogurt, lowfat, fruit flavored1 cup1.0
Milk, 1%1 cup0.9
Egg, boiled1 large egg0.6
Pork loin, lean, broiled3 ounces0.6
Chicken, light meat, skinless, roasted3 ounces0.3
Turkey, light meat, skinless, roasted3 ounces0.3

Vegetarian Options:

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.