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Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Written by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
Powered by USDA Nutrition Data
Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12, or Cobalamin, is necessary for making DNA and for creating energy in our cells. (1) A deficiency of vitamin B12 leads to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression. A long-term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. (2)

Vitamin B12 is created by bacteria and can only be found naturally in animal products, (1) however, synthetic forms are widely available and added to many foods like cereals.

Vitamin B12 can be consumed in large doses since excess B12 is stored in the liver for use when supplies are scarce. Stores of B12 can last for several years, which is why it takes a long time before people realize they have a deficiency in their diet. (1)

High vitamin B12 foods include clams, liver, fish, crab, low-fat beef, fortified cereal, fortified tofu, low-fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. (3) The daily value for vitamin B12 is 2.4μg per day, which has been recently reduced from 6μg per the USDA food labelling standards. (4)

Below are the top 10 foods highest in vitamin B12, click here for an extended list of vitamin B12 rich foods, and here for other foods high in vitamin B.

If you are vegetarian, see the article on vegetarian sources of vitamin B12.


List of Foods High in Vitamin B12

Clams

#1: Clams

Vitamin B12 per 3oz ServingVitamin B12 per 100g
7829% DV (187.9μg)4120% DV (98.9μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Cooked Clams

Other Shellfish High in Vitamin B12

-1020% DV in 3oz of oysters
-850% DV in 3oz of mussels
-76% DV in 3oz of scallops
3oz is equal to roughly 3 oysters, 5 mussels, and 10 small scallops respectively.

See all fish high in vitamin b12.
Slices of liver cheese

#2: Liver

Vitamin B12 per 3oz ServingVitamin B12 per 100g
3035% DV (72.8μg)3571% DV (85.7μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Lamb Liver (Cooked)

Liver Products High in Vitamin B12

-308% DV in a 1/4 cup of liverwurst spread
-44% DV in 1 tblsp of chicken liver pate
Roasted Mackerel

#3: Fish (Mackerel)

Vitamin B12 per 6oz FilletVitamin B12 per 100g
1346% DV (32.3μg)792% DV (19μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Atlantic Mackerel (Cooked)

Other Fish High in Vitamin B12

-771% DV in a 6oz tuna fillet
-375% DV in a 5oz trout fillet
-39% DV in 1oz of smoked salmon

See the list of canned fish high in vitamin B12.
King crab legs

#4: King Crab

Vitamin B12 in 1 Crab LegVitamin B12 per 100g
642% DV (15.4μg)479% DV (11.5μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Alaskan King Crab

Other Crustaceans High in Vitamin B12

-368% DV in 3oz of Dungeness crab
-187% DV in 1 cup of canned blue crab
-110% DV in 3oz of crayfish
-59% DV in 3oz of shrimp
-51% DV in 3oz of lobster
A steak on a plate

#5: Beef (Skirt Steak)

Vitamin B12 per 6oz SteakVitamin B12 per 100g
533% DV (12.8μg)314% DV (7.5μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Skirt Steak

More Red Meat High in Vitamin B12

-112% DV in 3oz of broiled beef round
-101% DV in 3oz of lean roast buffalo
-96% DV in 3oz of roast lamb shank

See all meats high in vitamin B12.
Circle cereals

#6: Fortified Cereals

Vitamin B12 per 3/4 CupVitamin B12 per 100g
254% DV (6.1μg)875% DV (21μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Kelloggs All-bran Complete Wheat Flakes
See the complete ranking of 200 cereals high in vitamin B12.
A block of tofu

#7: Fortified Tofu

Vitamin B12 per CupVitamin B12 per 100g
137% DV (3.3μg)60% DV (1.5μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Extra Firm Fortified Tofu
-50% DV in a 8oz cup of fortified soymilk

See more vegetarian sources of vitamin B12.
A glass of milk

#8: Low-Fat Milk

Vitamin B12 per 16oz GlassVitamin B12 per 100g
108% DV (2.6μg)22% DV (0.5μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Low-fat Milk 2%

More Dairy Foods High in Vitamin B12

-57% DV in a cup of Low-Fat Yogurt
-108% DV in a 16oz glass of low fat milk
-96% DV in a 16oz glass of whole milk

See the full list of dairy foods high in vitamin B12.
A slice of swiss cheese

#9: Swiss Cheese

Vitamin B12 per OzVitamin B12 per 100g
36% DV (0.9μg)128% DV (3.1μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Swiss Cheese

Other Cheeses High in Vitamin B12

-27% DV per oz of mozzarella
-22% DV per 1/2 cup of cottage cheese
-20% DV per oz of feta

See the list of high vitamin B12 cheeses.
Eggs

#10: Eggs

Vitamin B12 in 1 Large EggVitamin B12 per 100g
23% DV (0.6μg)46% DV (1.1μg)
Source: Nutrition Facts for Hard Boiled Eggs
-63% DV in 1 cup of chopped hard-boiled eggs

Eggs are also a high protein food.

See All 200 Foods High in Vitamin B12

Printable One Page Sheet

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A printable list of the top 10 vitamin b12 foods.

High Vitamin B12 Foods by Nutrient Density (Vitamin B12 per Gram)

FoodServingVitamin B12
#1 Clams100 grams4120% DV
(98.9μg)
#2 Octopus100 grams1500% DV
(36μg)
#3 Shellfish (Oysters)100 grams1200% DV
(28.8μg)
#4 Mussels100 grams1000% DV
(24μg)
#5 Pork Liver Sausage100 grams837% DV
(20.1μg)
#6 Fish (Mackerel)100 grams792% DV
(19μg)
#7 Kippered Herring100 grams779% DV
(18.7μg)
#8 Liverwurst Spread100 grams561% DV
(13.5μg)
#9 King Crab100 grams479% DV
(11.5μg)
#10 Tuna100 grams453% DV
(10.9μg)

Other Vitamin B12 Rich Foods

FoodServingVitamin B12
#1 Whelk3oz642% DV
(15.4μg)
#2 New England Clam Chowderper cup478% DV
(11.5μg)
#3 Veggie Burgers1 burger pattie366% DV
(8.8μg)
#4 Manhattan Clam Chowder1 cup330% DV
(7.9μg)
#5 Energy Bars1 bar311% DV
(7.5μg)
#6 Liver Sausage1oz238% DV
(5.7μg)
#7 Ostrich3oz228% DV
(5.5μg)
#8 Deer3oz128% DV
(3.1μg)
#9 Salamiper 3oz99% DV
(2.4μg)
#10 Scallopsper 3oz76% DV
(1.8μg)
#11 Rice Milk1 cup63% DV
(1.5μg)
#12 Buttermilk1 cup47% DV
(1.1μg)
#13 Turkey3oz36% DV
(0.9μg)
#14 Luncheon Meat1 slice19% DV
(0.5μg)
#15 Whey Powderper tblsp7% DV
(0.2μg)

Sources for Vegan and Vegetarian B12

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods (meat, cheese, fish, milk, eggs). See our article on vegetarian vitamin B12 sources to find both natural vegetarian foods (milk and eggs), and fortified b12 foods (soymilk, tofu, vitamin water).

How much Vitamin B12 do You Need?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin B12 ranges from 0.4 to 2.8μg per day. The daily value for vitamin B12 is 2.4μg per day, which has been recently reduced from 6μg per the USDA food labeling standards.

AgeMaleFemale
0-6 months*0.4 μg0.4 μg
7-12 months*0.5 μg0.5 μg
1-3 years0.9 μg0.9 μg
4-8 years1.2 μg1.2 μg
9-13 years1.8 μg1.8 μg
14+ years2.4 μg2.4 μg
Pregnant women require 2.6μg, and lactacting women should consume at least 2.8μg of vitamin B12.
*The amounts for children less than 12 months old is the adequate intake (AI) not RDA.
Source: Office of Dietary Supplements.

People at Risk of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Older Adults With Atrophic Gastritis - Atrophic Gastritis is a condition affecting 30-50% of adults over age 50 and hampers their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from natural foods. Supplements are recommended for people in this group. (2)
  • People with Pernicious Anemia - A condition that affects 1-2% of adults and can only effectively be treated with vitamin B12 injections or shots. (2)
  • Vegans and Vegetarians - Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, however there are some natural vegetarian foods high in vitamin B12. (2)
  • Pregnant and Lactating Women who are Vegetarian or Vegan (2)
  • People taking Certain Medications (2)
    • Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid), which are used to treat gastric or pepetic ulcer disease can inhibit absorption of vitamin B12.
    • Metformin - often used for type II diabetes, Metformin may interfere with vitamin B12 absorption in certain people.
    • Histamine antagonists, such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and ranitidine (Zantac), used to treat peptic ulcer disease, can reduce absorption of vitamin B12 by slowing the release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach.
    • Bacteriostatic Antibiotics, like Chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin), can interfere with the red blood cell response to vitamin b12 supplements.
    • Anticonvulsants - Anticonvulsants have been shown to interfere with vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (Folate) metabolism. One study found that people taking folate supplements and anticonvulsants experienced a 50% decline in Vitamin B12 blood levels.

Sublingual B12 or B12 Injections?

Both oral supplements and sublingual lozenges have equal absorption of vitamin B12. Due to Intrinsic Factor only a small percentage of vitamin B12 from supplements is absorbed. For example, just 10μg out of a 500μg dose of vitamin B12. For this reason, doctors may suggest B12 shots or injections, which will directly be absorbed and incorporated into the human body. (2)

An intranasal vitamin B12 gel also exists as a way to boost vitamin B12 levels. Talk to your doctor or primary care provider about this method, if you prefer it over injections. (5)

Vitamin B12 is added to foods as cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. Evidence suggests that either form is equally bioavailable and digestible. (2)

Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

  • Protection Against Heart Disease - Adequate levels of vitamins B12, B6, and B9 have been shown to lower levels of a protein in the blood: homocysteine. Lower levels of homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart attacks. (2)
  • Protect and Repair DNA to Reduce Cancer Risk and Slow Aging - Absorption of vitamin b12 and Folate (B9) is essential for DNA metabolism and maintenance which helps to prevent cancer and slow aging. (4)
  • Protect Against Dementia and Cognitive Decline - Lack of vitamin B12 increases homocysteine levels, which in turn decreases the body's ability to metabolize neurotransmitters. Due to limitations with creating long-term controlled studies in human populations, no definite link between increased vitamin B12 levels and cognitive function has been found, however, several observational studies suggest increased homocysteine levels increase the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and low levels of vitamin B12 has been associated with cognitive decline. (2)
  • Alzheimer's Protection - A study has shown that a deficiency in Vitamin B12 and Folate (B9) can double the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. (2)
  • Energy and Endurance - A lack of vitamin B12 will lead to anemia and weakness. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are necessary to maintain normal energy levels. Claims of vitamin B12 as an energy or athletic enhancer remain unproven. (2)

More Vitamin B Foods

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Data Sources and References

  1. Vitamin B12 in Health and Disease
  2. Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet
  3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
  4. New FDA Daily Values
  5. The role of folic acid and Vitamin B12 in genomic stability of human cells
  6. Patient acceptance of intranasal cobalamin gel for vitamin B12 replacement therapy.
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