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 potentially cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B-12 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 B-12 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 B-12 can last for up to a year. Below is a list of the top ten vitamin b12 rich foods. Click here for other foods high in vitamin b.
#1: Clams, Oysters, and Mussels
Shellfish are a great source of vitamin B12 and can be eaten raw, baked, steamed, fried, or made into chowder. In addition to vitamin B12 shellfish are a good source of zinc, copper, and iron. Clams provide the most vitamin B-12 with 98.9μg per 100g serving, accounting for 1648% of the DV. That is 84μg (1401% DV) per 3 ounce serving, and 187.9μg (3132% DV) in 20 small clams, or 9.4μg (156.6 %DV) in one small clam. Mussels and oysters are also good sources of B12 providing 600% DV and 400% DV per 100 gram serving. Click to see complete nutrition facts.
Often appearing on the culinary scene as pâté, liver can also be prepared steamed or fried with onions and herbs. The liver of most any animal is packed with vitamin B-12, the highest on the list are: Lamb, beef, veal, moose, turkey, duck, and goose respectively. Lamb liver provides 85.7μg (1428% DV) of vitamin B12 per 100g serving, or 72.85μg (230% DV) in a 3 ounce serving. Click to see complete nutrition facts.
#3: Caviar (Fish Eggs)
Caviar and fish eggs are most often eaten as a garnish or spread. The eggs of whitefish contain the most vitamin B-12 with 56.4μg (940% DV) per 100g serving. Caviar contains a third of that with 20μg (333% DV) of vitamin B12 per 100g serving, 5.6μg (93% DV) per ounce, and 3.2μg (53% DV) per tablespoon. Chicken eggs, by comparison, only offer 1.29μg (22% DV) of vitamin B-12 per 100g serving, or 0.65μg (11% DV) per egg. Click to see complete nutrition facts. Buy Caviar from Amazon.com
Popular in Mediterranean, Japanese, and Hawaiian cuisine, octopus is a vitamin b12 rich food. Cooked octopus provides 36μg of vitamin B-12 per 100 gram serving accounting for 600% of the DV. That is 30.6μg (510% DV) per 3 ounce serving, or 10.2μg (170% DV) per ounce. Raw octopus provides about half as much vitamin b12 with 20μg (333% DV) per 100 gram serving, 17μg (283% DV) in a 3 ounce serving, and 5.67μg (94.33% DV) per ounce. Click to see complete nutrition facts.
Known for their omega 3 fats and for being a high protein food, fish are also a good source of vitamin B12. Mackerel provides the most vitamin B-12 with 19μg per 100g serving (317% DV), followed by Herring (312% DV), Salmon (302%), Tuna (181%), Cod (167%), Sardines (149%), Trout (130%), and Bluefish (104%).
Click to see complete nutrition facts. Canned Fish Highest in Vitamin B12.
#6: Crab and Lobster
Crab and lobster are most commonly served baked, steamed, or in bisque. A 100g serving of crab contains 11.5μg of vitamin B12 (192% of the DV), that is 15.4μg (257%DV) per leg (134g). Lobster will provide 4.04μg(67% DV) per 100g serving, or 6.59μg (110% DV) in an average whole lobster (163g).
Click to see complete nutrition facts.
In addition to being a vitamin B12 rich food, beef is also a good source of protein, zinc, and heme-iron. The amount of vitamin B-12 in beef depends on the cut, lean fat-trimmed chuck contains the most vitamin B12 with 6.18μg (103% DV) per 100g serving, 11.49μg (103% DV) in a chuck steak, and 5.25μg (88% DV) in a 3 ounce serving. Chuck is followed by sirloin (62% DV), rib-eye (60% DV), and ribs (58% DV).
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#8: Lamb (Mutton)
Lamb is a common meat in the Middle East, Mediterranean, East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe. Lamb is a high cholesterol food so be sure to look for lean cuts which are higher in B12 anyway. Lamb also provides high amounts of protein, and zinc. The shoulder is the cut of lamb with the most vitamin B-12 providing 3.71μg (62% DV) per 100g serving, 5.82μg (97% DV) per pound, and 3.15μg (53% DV) in a 3 ounce serving. The shoulder is followed by the foreshank and leg which provides 53% of the DV per 100g serving, and lamb chops which provide 51% of the DV for vitmain B12 per 100 gram serving. Click to see complete nutrition facts.
Despite being a high cholesterol food, cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). The amount of vitamin B12 in cheese depends on type and variety, Swiss cheese provides the most with 3.34μg (56% DV) per 100g serving, followed by Gjetost (40% DV), Mozzarella(39% DV), Parmesan (38% DV), Tilsit (35% DV), and Feta (28% DV). Click to see complete nutrition facts.
When it comes to chicken eggs the raw yellow has most of the vitamin B-12 with 1.95μg per 100g serving (33%), however, this equates to 0.33μg per yolk or just 6% of the DV. The eggs of other animals are higher with a goose egg providing 7.34μg (122% DV) of vitamin B-12 per 100g serving, and a duck egg providing 3.78μg (63% DV).
Click to see complete nutrition facts.
Other Vitamin B12 Rich Foods
List of Cereals High in Vitamin B12 20μg (333% DV) per 100 gram serving 16μg (267% DV) in an average bowl (2 cups) (80 grams) 8μg (133% DV) per cup (40 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Fortified Cereals
Liverwurst Sausage 13.46μg (224% DV) per 100 gram serving 2.42μg (40% DV) per slice (18 grams) 3.77μg (63% DV) per ounce (28 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Liverwurst Sausage
Fortified Energy Bars* 12.24μg (204% DV) per 100 gram serving 5.39μg (90% DV) per bar (44 grams) 2.7μg (45% DV) in half a bar (22 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Fortified Energy Bars
Fois Gras (Goose Liver Pâté) 9.4μg (157% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.22μg (20% DV) per tablespoon (13 grams) 2.63μg (44% DV) per ounce (28 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Fois Gras (Goose Liver Pâté)
Emu Steak 9.37μg (156% DV) per 100 gram serving 36.92μg (615% DV) per tablespoon (394 grams) 7.96μg (133% DV) per ounce (85 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Emu Steak
New England Clam Chowder 4.8μg (80% DV) per 100 gram serving 12.1μg (202% DV) per cup (252 grams) 1.54μg (26% DV) in a fluid ounce (32 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for New England Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder 3.3μg (55% DV) per 100 gram serving 7.92μg (132% DV) per cup (240 grams) 0.99μg (17% DV) in a fluid ounce (30 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Manhattan Clam Chowder
Luncheon Meat* 5.14μg (86% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.44μg (24% DV) per one ounce slice (28 grams) 2.88μg (48% DV) in two slices (56 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Luncheon Meat
Hard Salami* 2.8μg (47% DV) per 100 gram serving 3.16μg (53% DV) in one 4 ounce package (113 grams) 0.28μg (5% DV) per slice (10 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Hard Salami
Whey Powder 2.37μg (40% DV) per 100 gram serving 3.44μg (57% DV) per cup (145 grams) 0.19μg (3% DV) per tablespoon (8 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Dry Sweet Whey
Yogurt (No Fat) 0.61μg (10% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.49μg (25% DV) per cup (8oz) (245 grams) 0.69μg (12% DV) per 4oz serving (half-container) (113 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Plain Yogurt (No Fat)
Yogurt (Whole) 0.37μg (6% DV) per 100 gram serving 0.91μg (15% DV) per cup (8oz) (245 grams) 0.42μg (7% DV) per 4oz serving (half-container) (113 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Plain Yogurt (Whole)
Skim Milk 0.53μg (9% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.3μg (22% DV) per cup (245 grams) 0.16μg (3% DV) in a fluid ounce (31 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Non-Fat Milk
Whole Milk 0.44μg (7% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.07μg (18% DV) per cup (244 grams) 0.14μg (2% DV) in a fluid ounce (31 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Full Fat Milk
Low-Fat Buttermilk 0.22μg (4% DV) per 100 gram serving 0.54μg (9% DV) per cup (245 grams) 0.07μg (1% DV) in a fluid ounce (31 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Low-fat Buttermilk
Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) 0.5μg (8% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.44μg (48% DV) per cup (288 grams) 0.03μg (1% DV) per teaspoon (6 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Yeast Extract Spread
Cured Ham (Lean) 0.65μg (11% DV) per 100 gram serving 0.91μg (15% DV) per cup (140 grams) 0.55μg (9% DV) in a 3 ounce serving (85 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Extra Lean Cured Ham
Chicken (Lean) 0.31μg (5% DV) per 100 gram serving 0.43μg (7% DV) per cup chopped (140 grams) 0.21μg (3% DV) in a half-cup (70 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Lean Roasted Chicken
Fortified Soymilk* 1.11μg (19% DV) per 100 gram serving 2.7μg (45% DV) per cup (243 grams) 0.3μg (5% DV) per ounce (28 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Fortified Soymilk
Fortified Tofu* 2.36μg (39% DV) per 100 gram serving 1.86μg (31% DV) per serving (1/4 packet) (79 grams) 0.7μg (11% DV) per ounce (28 grams) Click to see complete nutrition facts for Fortified Tofu
*Amount of vitamin B12 may vary greatly between products. Be sure to check nutrition labels for the exact amount of vitamin B12 from each individual product.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
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 levels of homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart attacks.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 which helps 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
People at Risk of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Older Adults who have Atrophic Gastritis – 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.
People with Pernicious Anemia – A condition that affects 1-2% of adults and can only effectively be treated with vitamin B12 injections or shots.
Vegans and Vegetarians – Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, however there are some natural vegetarian foods high in vitamin b12 and 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.
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.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20.
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, Nexø 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 Å, 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.