Vitamin B12: the best food sources

It is estimated that between 1.5% and 15% of the Western population is deficient in vitamin B12, and the risk of deficiency increases with age. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can include depression, confusion, poor memory, balance problems, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, etc. If you suffer from any of these issues, you may need more foods containing vitamin B12 in your diet.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for the production of red blood cells, proper brain and nerve function, and DNA synthesis. Even a mild vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to impaired mental function and low energy. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in the formation of red blood cells, so a deficiency can result in the production of large, immature cells that are unable to transport oxygen properly. The benefits of vitamin B12 are vast and include boosting energy, reducing depression, decreasing sugar cravings, and reducing neurological degeneration. It’s definitely a B vitamin (one of eight) that you don’t want to miss for many reasons.

How to get B12 in your diet?

By consuming foods naturally rich in vitamin B12, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.
Are you ready to check out some of my top healthy B12-rich food picks?

List of main foods rich in vitamin B12

Here are some of the foods rich in vitamin B12 that you can eat regularly to ensure you are getting enough of this essential vitamin in your diet:

Beef liver: 30g: 20 micrograms (more than 300% of DV)
Sardines: 90g: 6.6 micrograms (more than 100% of the daily value)
Atlantic Mackerel: 90g: 7.4 micrograms (over 100% DV)
Lamb: 90g: 2.7 micrograms (45 percent of DV)
Wild salmon: 90g: 2.6 micrograms (42 percent DV)
Nutritional yeast: 1 tablespoon: 2.4 micrograms (40% of daily intake)
Feta cheese: 0.5 cup: 1.25 micrograms (21 percent of the daily value)
Grass-fed beef: 90g: 1.2 micrograms (20 percent of DV)
Cottage cheese: 1 cup: 0.97 micrograms (16 percent DV)
Eggs: 1 large: 0.6 micrograms (11 percent of the daily value)

1. Beef liver

The main benefit of eating liver is its very high B12 content. It only takes one ounce of beef liver to far exceed most people’s daily B12 needs.
Just be sure to buy the highest quality beef liver. That means organic liver from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. Consuming beef liver can help prevent pernicious anemia because it is not only rich in vitamin B12, but also iron and folate. These are three nutrients that can aid natural recovery from anemia.

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2. Sardines

Sardines have a very high content of vitamin B12 and an impressive content of another vital element for human health: omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that the omega-3s in sardine nutrition can have all sorts of major health benefits, including boosting heart health, decreasing inflammation, and helping asthma.

3. Atlantic mackerel

Atlantic mackerel (not king mackerel) makes the list of the healthiest fish because it’s not only very high in vitamin B12, but also because it’s high in omega-3s, poor in mercury and is ranked among the best fish for health and sustainability.

4. Lamb

Lamb has an impressive nutritional content. It is one of the best foods in terms of vitamin B12, and it is also very high in protein, iron, selenium and zinc.
Selenium and zinc are two major nutrients that support the immune system.

5. Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is one of the healthiest and most nutritious sources of protein. Of course, you need to choose wild, not farmed, salmon to get the most health benefits from this fish. Wild salmon contains vitamin B12 as well as vitamin D, another common vitamin deficiency these days. Research has shown that 800 to 5,000 international units of vitamin D daily can improve musculoskeletal health, naturally slow skeletal aging, and reduce the rate of fractures and falls in people over 65.

6. Nutritional yeast

If you’re vegetarian or vegan and looking for a way to get more B12 into your diet, nutritional yeast is a great option. It is usually fortified with B12 and other B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is also considered a complete protein since it contains at least nine of the 18 amino acids that the human body is unable to produce.

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7. Feta cheese

Feta cheese is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and many other nutrients, such as riboflavin (vitamin B2) and calcium. Traditionally, feta is made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. While you can find feta made from raw sheep’s/goat’s milk, the nutritional and health benefits are still best. Its high riboflavin content is excellent for headache sufferers, as studies have shown that riboflavin can significantly reduce the frequency of headaches, including migraines.

8. Grass-fed beef

Grass-fed beef isn’t just a top choice when it comes to food sources of vitamin B12. It is also one of the best animal sources of protein. Compared to grain-fed beef, it’s a much healthier choice. Research has shown that grass-fed beef is higher in precursors to vitamin A, vitamin E, and cancer-fighting antioxidants than grain-fed beef.

9. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is rich in vitamin B12 as well as protein and calcium.

10. Eggs

Eggs are an excellent non-meat source of vitamin B12. They also contain choline, which our liver needs to function properly. Research has linked low choline levels to liver dysfunction and even an increased risk of cancer formation. If you still want to increase your dietary B12 levels, you can take vitamin B12 supplements, in addition to getting these forms of B12 from foods that contain vitamin B12.

Foods rich in vitamin B12 to avoid

Although the vitamin B12 content of these foods is high, they are not considered healthy and should be avoided. Fortified foods that contain refined carbohydrates, added sugars and artificial ingredients are not healthy sources of vitamin B12 and should be consumed sparingly.

These foods include:

– Fruit juices
– Processed meats (such as charcuterie with ham)
– Margarine or spreads high in trans fats.
– Unhealthy fish (tilapia, Atlantic flatfish and farmed salmon)

Dangers of vitamin B12 deficiency

The recommended daily value for vitamin B12 (based on a calorie intake of 2,000 calories per day for adults and children aged 4 or older) is six micrograms per day. Sometimes a B12 deficiency can be masked by taking high doses of folic acid. Vegans and vegetarians are more at risk of a B12 deficiency because vitamin B12 is found primarily in foods of animal origin. Similarly, people with leaky gut and digestive malabsorption may be at risk of deficiency. Taking certain prescription medications is another serious risk factor that can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.

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Possible dangers or side effects of low vitamin B12 levels include:

– A type of anemia in which the red blood cells are fewer but larger.
– Balance and gait disorders
– Nerve damage
– Confusion
– Loss of vibration sensation
– Dementia (in advanced stages of impairment)
– Atrophied muscles
– Low levels of vitamin B12 in pregnant women shortly before or after conception have been associated with a significantly higher risk of neural tube defects in their babies. The consumption of foods containing vitamin B12 is therefore particularly important for pregnant women.

If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency and decide to take a B12 supplement, it is important to know that it can interact with certain medications. Tell your doctor if you are currently taking medication or have any chronic health conditions.

Medications known to lower vitamin B12 levels in the body include:

– Anti-seizure drugs
– Bile acid sequestrants
– Chemotherapy drugs
– Colchicine
– H2 blockers
– Metformin
– Proton pump inhibitors
– Antibiotics, especially tetracycline.

B12 injections are also an option if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.


The best way to get enough vitamin B12 is to eat a healthy diet whenever possible. It’s not a difficult task when you know which foods contain this essential vitamin. The main foods rich in vitamin B12 are beef liver, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, lamb, wild salmon, nutritional yeast, feta cheese, grass-fed beef, cottage cheese and eggs.

* The information and services available on in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. []

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