Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) + Infographic
Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is the largest and most complex vitamin currently known to man. A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B12 can only be manufactured by bacteria and can only be found naturally in animal products, however, synthetic forms are widely available and added to many foods like cereals.
Vitamin B12 can be consumed in large doses because excess is excreted by the body or stored in the liver for use when supplies are scarce. Stores of B12 can last for up to a year.
Foods high in Vitamin B12 include clams, liver, fish, crab, low-fat beef, fortified cereal, fortified tofu, low-fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. The current daily value (%DV) for vitamin B12 is 6μg.
Below are the top 10 foods highest in vitamin B12 by common serving sizes, click here for an extended list of vitamin B12 rich foods, and here for other foods high in vitamin B. For even more see the articles for vegan and vegetarian sources of vitamin B12.
List of Foods High in Vitamin B12
|3oz (85g)||200 calories (135g)||100g|
|1401% DV (84.1μg)||2227% DV (133.6μg)||1648% DV (98.9μg)|
Other Shellfish High in Vitamin B12 (%DV per 3oz)Oysters (408%), Mussels (340%), and Scallops (30%).
3oz is roughly 9 clams, 8 mussels, or 10 oysters.
Complete Nutrition Facts.
|3oz (85g)||200 calories (84g)||100g|
|1214% DV (72.8μg)||1200% DV (72μg)||1428% DV (85.7μg)|
Liver Products High in Vitamin B12 (%DV per 3oz)Liver Cheese (348%), Liverwurst Sausage (189%), Pate de Foie Gras (133%), and Chicken Liver Pate (114%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
|6oz fillet (170g)||200 calories (76g)||100g|
|538% DV (32.3μg)||242% DV (14.5μg)||317% DV (19μg)|
|1 leg (134g)||200 calories (206g)||100g|
|257% DV (15.4μg)||395% DV (23.7μg)||192% DV (11.5μg)|
Other Crustaceans High in Vitamin B12 (%DV per 3oz)Dungeness Crab (147%), Spiny Lobster (57%), Blue Crab (Cooked or Canned) (47%), Crayfish (44%), Shrimp (24%), and Northern Lobster (20%).
Complete Nutrition Facts.
|6oz steak (175g)||200 calories (75g)||100g|
|220% DV (13.2μg)||94% DV (5.6μg)||126% DV (7.5μg)|
|3/4 cup (29g)||200 calories (61g)||100g|
|102% DV (6.1μg)||214% DV (12.8μg)||350% DV (21μg)|
|1/5 Package (91g)||200 calories (465g)||100g|
|37% DV (2.2μg)||188% DV (11.3μg)||40% DV (2.4μg)|
|1 cup (170g)||200 calories (357g)||100g|
|17% DV (1μg)||36% DV (2.2μg)||10% DV (0.6μg)|
|1oz (28g)||200 calories (51g)||100g|
|14% DV (0.9μg)||26% DV (1.6μg)||51% DV (3.1μg)|
|1 large (50g)||200 calories (129g)||100g|
|9% DV (0.6μg)||24% DV (1.4μg)||19% DV (1.1μg)|
How much Vitamin B12 do you need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin B12 ranges from 0.4 to 2.8μg per day. This is quite a bit lower than the daily value (%DV) of 6μg. The daily value (%DV) is higher since excess vitamin B12 is well tolerated by the body, and so that certain groups with a risk of deficiency get plenty of vitamin B12 in their diet. Further, the daily value is also often higher than the RDA to account for absorption factors that can occur in a diverse diet.
|0-6 months||0.4 μg||0.4 μg|
|7-12 months||0.5 μg||0.5 μg|
|1-3 years||0.9 μg||0.9 μg|
|4-8 years||1.2 μg||1.2 μg|
|9-13 years||1.8 μg||1.8 μg|
|14+ years||2.4 μg||2.4 μg||2.6 μg||2.8 μg|
For the values above the amounts for children less than 12 months old is actually the adequate intake (AI) not RDA.
Click each heading below for more information from MyFoodData.com
|#1 Whelk||257% DV (15.4μg) in 3oz (85g)||220% DV (13.2μg) in 200 calories (73g)|
|#2 Clam Chowder||191% DV (11.5μg) in 1 cup (248g)||441% DV (26.5μg) in 200 calories (571g)|
|#3 Veggie Burgers||146% DV (8.8μg) in 1 burger pattie (114g)||117% DV (7μg) in 200 calories (91g)|
|#4 Emu||133% DV (8μg) in 3oz (85g)||203% DV (12.2μg) in 200 calories (130g)|
|#5 Manhattan Clam Chowder||132% DV (7.9μg) in 1 cup (240g)||196% DV (11.8μg) in 200 calories (357g)|
|#6 Energy Bars||124% DV (7.5μg) in 1 bar (55g)||132% DV (7.9μg) in 200 calories (58g)|
|#7 Liver Sausage||95% DV (5.7μg) in 1oz (28g)||205% DV (12.3μg) in 200 calories (61g)|
|#8 Ostrich||91% DV (5.5μg) in 3oz (85g)||131% DV (7.9μg) in 200 calories (122g)|
|#9 Dried Sweet Whey||57% DV (3.4μg) in 1 cup (145g)||22% DV (1.3μg) in 200 calories (57g)|
|#10 Deer||51% DV (3.1μg) in 3oz (85g)||81% DV (4.9μg) in 200 calories (134g)|
|#11 Salami||40% DV (2.4μg) in 3oz (85g)||23% DV (1.4μg) in 200 calories (49g)|
|#12 Scallops||30% DV (1.8μg) in 3oz (85g)||65% DV (3.9μg) in 200 calories (180g)|
|#13 Rice Milk||25% DV (1.5μg) in 1 cup (240g)||45% DV (2.7μg) in 200 calories (426g)|
|#14 Buttermilk||19% DV (1.1μg) in 1 cup (245g)||25% DV (1.5μg) in 200 calories (323g)|
|#15 Turkey||14% DV (0.9μg) in 3oz (85g)||18% DV (1.1μg) in 200 calories (106g)|
|#16 Luncheon Meat||8% DV (0.5μg) in 1 slice (23g)||25% DV (1.5μg) in 200 calories (77g)|
|#17 Chicken||7% DV (0.4μg) in 1 cup chopped (140g)||7% DV (0.4μg) in 200 calories (131g)|
- Protect 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 levelsof homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heartattacks.3-5
- 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 whichhelps to prevent cancer and slow aging.6 Read full blog post here...
- Protect Against Dementia and Cognitive Decline - Lack of vitamin B12 increases homocysteine levels, which in turn decreases the bodies ability to metabolize neurotransmitters.7 Due to limitations with creating long term controlled studies in human populations, no definite link between increased vitamin b12 levels and cognitive function have been found,8-12 however several observational studies suggest increased homocysteine levels increase the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia,13-15 and low levels of vitamin B12 has been associated with cognitive decline.16
- Alzheimer's Protection - A study has shown that a deficiency in Vitamin B12 and Folate (B9) can double the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.17
- 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 atheletic enhancer remain unproven.18
- Older Adults who have Atrophic Gastritis - A condition affecting 30-50% of adultsover age 50 and hampers their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from natural foods. Supplements are recommended for people in this group.
- People with Pernicious Anemia - A condition that affects 1-2% of adults andcan only effectively be treated with vitamin B12 injections or shots.
- Vegans and Vegetarians - Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animalproducts, however there are some natural vegetarian foods high in vitamin b12and various fortified B12 foods for vegans.
- Pregnant and Lactating Women who are Vegetarian or Vegan
- People taking Certain Medications
- 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, may interfere with vitmain 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 vitmain 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.19-21 One study found that people taking folate supplements and anticonvulsants experienced a 50% decline in Vitamin B12 blood levels.
Brewers Yeast is a rich source of nutrients, typically used for making beer, but can also be used to make breads and other consumables.There are conflicting reports on how much vitamin B12 brewers yeast provides. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that it provides no B-12. However, the nutrition facts from Now Foods lists a whopping 3 micrograms (50% DV) of vitamin B12 in two tablespoons of brewers yeast. This is way more B12 than what you can get from Marmite or other yeast extracts.So, as ever with nutrition facts, it is best to buy a product where you can consult the label for specific B12 content. One should also be cautious on counting on the yeast as a sole source for vitamin B12.
- Liver, Fois Gras, Whole Milk, Clam Chowder, Liverwurst, Salami, Cheese,Caviar, Lamb, Shell Fish, and Beef are high cholesterol foods which should be eaten in moderate amounts and avoided by people at risk of heart disease or stroke.
- Marmite is made from brewer's yeast, which is high in purines, and should be avoided by people with gout, kidney disease, or arthritis.
Data Sources and References
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.
- Office Of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet
- Doshi SN, McDowell IF, Moat SJ, Payne N, Durrant HJ, Lewis MJ, Goodfellos J. Folic acid improves endothelial function in coronary artery disease via mechanisms largely independent of homocysteine. Circulation. 2002;105:22-6.
- Doshi SN, McDowell IFW, Moat SJ, Lang D, Newcombe RG, Kredean MB, Lewis MJ, Goodfellow J. Folate improves endothelial function in coronary artery disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2001;21:1196-1202.
- Wald DS, Bishop L, Wald NJ, Law M, Hennessy E, Weir D, McPartlin J, Scott J. Randomized trial of folic acid supplementation and serum homocysteine levels. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:695-700.
- A Paoloni-Giacobino, R Grimble, C Pichard. Genetics and nutrition. Clinical Nutrition Volume 22, Issue 5, Pages 429-435 (October 2003)
- Hutto BR. Folate and cobalamin in psychiatric illness. Compr Psychiatry 1997;38:305-14.
- Eussen SJ, de Groot LC, Joosten LW, Bloo RJ, Clarke R, Ueland PM, et al. Effect of oral vitamin B-12 with or without folic acid on cognitive function in older people with mild vitamin B-12 deficiency: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:361-70.
- Hvas AM, Juul S, Lauritzen L, Nexo E, Ellegaard J. No effect of vitamin B-12 treatment on cognitive function and depression: a randomized placebo controlled study. J Affect Disord 2004;81:269-73.
- Vital Trial Collaborative Group. Effect of vitamins and aspirin on markers of platelet activation, oxidative stress and homocysteine in people at high risk of dementia. J Intern Med 2003; 254:67-75.
- Kang JH, Cook N, Manson J, Buring JE, Albert CM, Grodstein F. A trial of B vitamins and cognitive function among women at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:1602-10.
- Aisen PS, Schneider LS, Sano M, Diaz-Arrastia R, van Dyck CH, Weiner MF, et al.; Alzheimer Disease Cooperative Study. High-dose B vitamin supplementation and cognitive decline in Alzheimer disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2008 ;300:1774-83.
- Clarke R. B-vitamins and prevention of dementia. Proc Nutr Soc 2008;67:75-81.
- Schulz RJ. Homocysteine as a biomarker for cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2007;10:718-23.
- Seshadri S, Beiser A, Selhub J, Jacques PF, Rosenberg IH, D'Agostino RB, et al. Plasma homocysteine as a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer's disease. N Engl J Med 2002;346:476-83.
- Clarke R, Birks J, Nexo E, Ueland PM, Schneede J, Scott J, et al. Low vitamin B-12 status and risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1384-91.
- Wang HX, Wahlin A, Basun H, Fastbom J, Winblad B, Fratiglioni L. Vitamin B12 and folate in relation to the development of Alzheimer?s disease. Neurology May 8, 2001 vol. 56 no. 9 1188-1194.
- Lukaski HC. Vitamin and mineral status: effects on physical performance. Nutrition 2004;20:632-44.
- Patrick Kidd and David L. Mollin. Megaloblastic Anaemia and Vitamin-B12 Deficiency After Anticonvulsant Therapy. Br Med J. 1957 October 26; 2(5051): 974?976.
- J.S. MALPAS, G.H. SPRAY, L.J. WITTS. Serum Folic-acid and Vitamin-Biz Levels in Anticonvulsant Therapy. British Medical Journal. 16 April 1966.
- Richard Hunterb, Joanna Barnesb, and D. M. Matthews. EFFECT OF FOLIC-ACID SUPPLEMENT ON SERUM-VITAMIN-B12 LEVELS IN PATIENTS ON ANTICONVULSANTS. The Lancet, Volume 294, Issue 7622, 27 September 1969, Pages 666-667.