- Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal-based products like salmon, beef, eggs, and cheese.
- B12 foods for vegans and vegetarians include fortified cereal and nutritional yeast.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, and one way to make sure you’re getting enough is through your diet.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
If you eat a varied diet that includes meat and/or dairy, you’re probably not at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency since it comes primarily from animal-based foods.
However, if you are vegan, vegetarian, or have a condition like Crohn’s disease that makes it harder to absorb nutrients, then you may have a harder time meeting your daily vitamin B12 requirements placing you at risk of a deficiency.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is often hard to detect but symptoms will quickly sneak up on you causing weakness, fatigue, anemia, or numbness in the hands and feet.
Therefore, it’s best just to make sure you’re getting the recommended vitamin B12 from your daily diet. Here’s an assorted list of foods rich in vitamin B12 with options for just about everyone.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon contains:
- Calories: 130
- Vitamin B12: 4 micrograms (mcg), which is 168% of your daily value (DV)
In addition to being a rich source of vitamin B12, salmon is lean protein and packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, says Eleana Kaidanian, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian with the private practice Long Island Nutritionist. This is why the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, a week to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.
A 3-ounce serving of cooked ground beef contains:
- Calories: 221
- Vitamin B12: 2.3 mcg (95.6% DV)
In general, beef is a good source of vitamin B12, but how much B12 it contains depends on what part of the cow, according to a 2018 study. For example, researchers found a single serving of beef liver can provide 71 mcg of vitamin B12, which is approximately 30 times the DV. Whereas a 3 ounce serving of sirloin only contained 1.4 mcg.
3. Nutritional yeast
A 16-gram serving of nutritional yeast contains:
- Calories: 60
- Vitamin B12: 24 mcg (1,000% DV)
Fortified nutrition yeast is one of the best sources of B12 for people who do not eat meat or dairy.
Nutritional yeast is a type of inactive yeast, meaning it can’t be used to bake bread. Instead, it has a cheesy, nutty flavor that you can sprinkle over popcorn or pasta in place of cheddar cheese.
Plus, nutritional yeast offers 8 grams of protein per serving, says Kaidanian. And, it contains all nine of the essential amino acids your body requires for tissue growth and repair.
One cup of milk contains:
- Calories: 124
- Vitamin B12: 1.4 mcg (54% DV)
Milk is a good vegetarian-friendly source of vitamin B12 and is especially effective at helping those with a B12 deficiency, according to a small 2013 study.
In the study, vegetarian participants with vitamin B12 deficiencies drank 600 ml (about 2.5 cups) of buffalo milk every day for two weeks and found that it significantly increased their vitamin B12 levels.
It is important to note that buffalo milk contains 0.88 mcg of B12, which is less than cow’s milk.
Plus, milk is a rich source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D, says Kaidanian. For instance, one cup of milk provides 307 mg of calcium (25% DV), which is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
One hundred grams of plain non-fat Greek yogurt contains:
- Calories: 59
- Vitamin B12: 0.7 mcg (29% DV)
While yogurt offers many of the same nutrients as milk, like vitamin B12, calcium, and protein, it is also a source of probiotics, says Kaidanian. Foods rich in probiotics, like yogurt, help feed the good bacteria in your gut that help you digest food, absorb vitamins, and prevent disease.
A large egg contains:
- Calories: 71.9
- Vitamin B12: 0.5 mcg (20.8% DV)
While eggs are a significant source of vitamin B12, a 2007 study found participants only absorb 9% of the vitamin B12 in eggs compared to 40% to 90% from other animal-based sources. However, the study also found that eating eggs regularly contributed a significant amount of vitamin B12 to participants’ diet.
7. Fortified breakfast cereals
One 28-g serving of Quaker whole hearts oat cereal contains:
- Calories: 105
- Vitamin B12: 1.3 mcg (54% DV)
Breakfast cereal is another food that may be fortified with vitamin B12, which is great for vegans and vegetarians. Just make sure you’re choosing a high-fiber, high-protein cereal without added sugar, Kaidanian says. Added sugar bumps up your calorie intake without providing any nutrients.
Forty grams of low-fat cheddar cheese contains:
- Calories: 69.2
- Vitamin B12: 0.49 mcg (20.4% DV)
While cheese is a good source of B12, protein, calcium, and
, you should limit your intake to 40 grams — about a serving or two — a day since it can be a significant source of saturated fat and sodium. Saturated fat and sodium can raise your blood pressure and risk of
. You can also try opting for reduced-fat and part-skim cheeses, which will be specified on the packaging, says Kaidanian.
One can (107 g) of light tuna in water contains:
- Calories: 96.3
- Vitamin B12: 2.75 mcg (120% DV)
In addition to being a good source of vitamin B12, tuna offers 19 grams of protein (40.6% DV). Not only does protein help you build muscle, but also bones, skin, and hair.
A 3-ounce serving of ground turkey contains:
- Calories: 173
- Vitamin B12: 1.14 mcg (49.6% DV)
Ground turkey is a great alternative to ground beef if you’re watching your saturated fat intake, but still want to boost your vitamin B12 consumption. Plus, it contains tryptophan, an important amino acid your body needs to make serotonin, says Kaidanian.
Vitamin B12 can be found in a wide variety of foods like meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and fortified foods. Therefore, most people who eat a varied diet don’t have to worry about getting enough of this nutrient.
However, if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or have certain health conditions, then you may want to watch your B12 intake more closely or opt for a supplement in order to prevent a deficiency, says Kaidanian.