Why is Vitamin B12 important?
Vitamin B12 is needed to keep your blood cells healthy and is used by the body to make proteins like hormones and enzymes needed for digestion. Most people can easily get all the vitamin B12 they need from food. However, some groups of people, such as vegans, have to work harder to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets. Over time, not getting enough vitamin B12 from food can cause anemia (a condition that makes it harder for your red blood cells to work well). Without enough vitamin B12, someone may feel tired, weak, or confused and may ave low appetite or numbing in hands and feet.
How much Vitamin B12 do I need every day?
The amount of vitamin B12 you need each day, or recommended daily allowance (RDA), depends on your age. If you are 9 to 13 years old, you need 1.8 micrograms each day. If you are 14 years old or older, you need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day.
What foods are good sources for Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products and is also added to certain foods. Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Fish and seafood
- Fortified foods such as cereals, soy milk, and meat substitutes
Vegans (vegetarians who do not to eat any animal products, such as milk or eggs) have to work harder to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets. If you are a vegan, you should take a vitamin supplement or eat fortified foods (foods that have vitamin B12 added). Check food labels to find products that are fortified with vitamin B12 such as:
- Breakfast cereals
- Cereal bars
- Soy milk
- Some meat substitutes
Nutritional yeast is a product that some vegans choose to cook with; it is seasoning fortified with vitamin B12 and can be found at some specialty grocery stores or online.
The tables below list some sources of vitamin B12, their serving size, and the micrograms of vitamin B12 per serving.
|Dairy Products||Serving Size||Micrograms of B12 per Serving|
|Cow’s Milk||1 cup||1.2|
|Swiss Cheese||1 ounce (usually about 1 slice)||0.9|
|Ricotta Cheese||½ cup||0.4|
|Greek Yogurt||1 cup||0.9|
|Fortified Foods||Serving Size||Micrograms of B12 per Serving|
|Special K®||1 cup||2.7|
|Whole Grain Total®||¾ cup||6.0|
|Nutritional yeast, fortified||1 tbsp||2.4|
|Plain soymilk||1 cup||3.0|
|Meat, Poultry, Fish, Other||Serving Size||Micrograms of B12 per Serving|
|Chicken breast||1 medium breast||0.2|
|Hamburger, lean||1 medium patty||2.4|
|Shrimp||1 cup, cooked||1.2|
|Sirloin steak||1 medium steak||2.7|
|Salmon, Atlantic||1 medium fillet||7.8|
|Tuna fish, canned||3 ounces||2.5|