Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the production of DNA and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also critical for healthy nerve and brain function.
Despite the critical functions of b12, the body does not make it naturally – therefore you need to get the right amount of food and nutritional supplements. According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin B12 are 2.4mcg for healthy adults over the age of 14; 2.6 mcg for pregnant women; and 2.8 mcg for breastfeeding mothers. For those with an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor may recommend additional daily amounts. Vitamin B12 is absorbed into the stomach, and the one that is not used or excreted is stored in the liver.
What foods should you eat to meet the needs of vitamin B12? Here are the 11 best sources:
1. Organ meat
Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidneys, brain, tongue, and tripe are excellent sources of vitamin B12. The liver is exceptionally high: beef and veal liver provide 990% RDI for serving 3.5 ounces. Lamb’s liver offers 1500 percent of the RDI in the same size serving.
The kidneys of lamb, beef and veal are also excellent sources of B12, offering 1300 percent RDI per serving of 3.5 ounces. A typical portion of 3 ounces of organ meat provides about 70 mcg of vitamin B12.
Organ meats contain other valuable nutrients such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and vitamins A, D, E, and K. Organ meats contain high cholesterol and saturated fat, so it is important to keep consumption at 10% or less of total caloric intake.
Red meat such as steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburgers, and sausages are great sources of vitamin B12. They contain all eight essential amino acids needed for growth and maintenance and are among the best complete sources of nutritional proteins.
One flatiron steak (186 grams) provides 200 percent of the RDI; a portion of the three ounces of beef offers 1.5 mcg. Zinc, iron, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorus also abound with beef.
Grilling and roasting preserve higher amounts of B12 than frying. Low-fat beef cuts are also higher in B12 and other nutrients than high-fat cuts.
Salmon is packed with healthy omega 3 fatty acids and provides 80 percent of RDI for vitamin B12. Serving 3-ounce salmon contains 4.9 mcg B12; half of a cooked salmon fillet (178 grams) provides 80 percent of the recommended daily intake. It is low in calories and fat, rich in protein and full of nutrients thought to help fight dementia and cancer and increase overall brain health.
Trout is another nutrient-rich cold water fish. Offers 58% RDIs; A 3-ounce meal contains 5.4 mcg of vitamin B12. It is also rich in antioxidants that protect against cell damage caused by free radicals.
Niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), potassium, phosphorus and selenium round off the rich nutritional profile of trout. Attention: Trout gives 12 percent of RDI for vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps the body in creating red blood cells.
Water-packed, canned light tuna (3 ounces) provides 4.9 mcg of vitamin B12 and 85% RDI. One, 3.5 ounce of fresh tuna serving contains 160 percent of the recommended amount. In addition, the tuna is full of omega 3 fatty acids, fat proteins, selenium, phosphorus and vitamin A, B3 and D.
Sardines contain 200 percent of the RDI per 150-gram serving. Mostly canned in water and oil, and these little fish are filled with omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamin D, calcium, niacin, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. They are also rich in sodium and calories, but when consumed in healthy amounts, sardines can reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and slow down cell damage.
With a low-fat content and a high proportion, 20 small clams offer astonishing 3,300 percent of RDI for vitamin B12.
Clam broth, even without the clams, contains 2.7-14.1 mcg of vitamin B12 per 3.5-ounce portion – 1600 percent of the RDI. These powerful mollusks also contain additional vitamins and minerals such as niacin, zinc, selenium, iron, antioxidants, and magnesium.
8. Fortified cereals
For the healthiest options in fortified cereals, choose the varieties that are rich in fiber and whole grains, and low in sugar. Multi-Grain Cheerios have 21 mcg of B12 in 3/4 cups (100 grams). The same serving size of Malt-O-Meat Fiber Bran Flakes contains 137% RDI. Instant oatmeal (most varieties and flavors) provides 14 mcg of B12 per serving.
Enjoy serving milk or fortified non-dairy milk along with cereal for even more vitamin B12.
9. Fortified nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is grown on a variety of sources, such as blackstrap molasses, whey, and sugar beets, while brewer’s yeast is grown on hops and is a byproduct of the beer preparation process. Nutritional yeast has a savory, nutty, cheese-like flavor you can add to foods. No gluten, no dairy-free, no sugar, with low-fat content and high protein content.
One-quarter of a cup of nutritional yeast has 17.60 mcg of B12, 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Two tablespoons of yeast has 7.8 mcg of B12. Furthermore, it contains thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), B-6, B-3, potassium, calcium, and iron. For vegetables, pasta and salads, sprinkle some nutritional yeast.
10. Milk and dairy
One cup of whole-fat milk has 18 percent of the RDI for vitamin B12. One slice (28 grams) of Swiss cheese has 16 percent and two large eggs have 22 percent.
One of the healthiest and largest dairy sources B12 is 6 ounces of full-fat yogurt, which boasts 23 percent of the RDI. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are not far behaind. Studies show that the body absorbs higher amounts of B12 when consumed in milk and dairy than in red meat, eggs, and fish.
11. Fortified non-dairy milk
Fortified non-dairy milk is a great alternative to vegans and those with nutritional constraints, allergies or lactose intolerance. Non-dairy varieties include almond, straw, coconut, oats, rice and Indian walnuts. Although they are not naturally good sources of vitamin B12, fortification makes them suitable substitutes for dairy.
For example, 1 cup (240 ml) of fortified soy milk contains 2.6 mg (45% RDI) for vitamin B12. One cup of fortified almond milk has 50 percent RDI for B12, and enriched coconut milk (8 ounces) provides 25 percent, in addition to calcium and vitamins A and D.
How to know if you have a lack of B12
Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include nervousness, dizziness, numbness, and tingling of the fingers and toes. Additional symptoms include weakness, weight loss, tenderness in the mouth and tongue and confusion. The severe shortage of B12 can lead to mobility problems and memory loss.
Your doctor can check the B12 level with a blood test. Disadvantages can be easily treated with additives and injections. If you think you may have a lack of vitamin B12, talk to your doctor to discuss treatment.