13 Best Foods That Are High in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

The discovery of vitamin B12 marked a significant milestone in the field of nutrition and medicine. In the early 20th century, scientists were puzzled by a mysterious condition known as pernicious anemia, which often led to death.

It was only in 1926 that George Whipple, George Minot, and William Murphy successfully treated the condition with a special diet containing liver.

The breakthrough came when chemist Karl Folkers identified the active ingredient in the liver as vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin.

This water-soluble vitamin plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells and the functioning of the nervous system.

The discovery of vitamin B12 not only led to effective treatments for pernicious anemia but also shed light on the importance of nutrition in overall health.

Today, vitamin B12 supplementation is widely used to prevent and treat deficiencies, ensuring the well-being of millions of people worldwide.

So, Come and join us on a thrilling adventure to discover the genuine essence of vitamin B12, and its importance, and delve into the primary sources of this essential nutrient.

What is Vitamin B12 and its Role in the Body?

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions.

It is a complex vitamin that contains the mineral cobalt, and it is essential for the synthesis of DNA, the formation of red blood cells, and the proper functioning of the nervous system.

The body does not produce vitamin B12, so it must be obtained from dietary sources such as meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals.

Once ingested, vitamin B12 is bound to proteins in food and requires stomach acid and a protein called intrinsic factor for proper absorption in the small intestine.

Once absorbed, vitamin B12 is transported to various tissues and organs where it is utilized for important metabolic processes. One of its key roles is in the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the maturation of red blood cells in the bone marrow, ensuring the proper formation and functioning of these oxygen-carrying cells.

Vitamin B12 is also involved in the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material present in all cells. It plays a crucial role in the conversion of homocysteine, an amino acid, into methionine, another amino acid that is essential for DNA synthesis.

This process helps maintain the integrity of DNA and promotes normal cell division and growth.

Furthermore, vitamin B12 is critical for the normal functioning of the nervous system. It is involved in the production of myelin, a protective covering that surrounds nerve fibers, enabling efficient transmission of nerve impulses.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and cognitive impairments.

In Summary, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and the proper functioning of the nervous system. Adequate intake of vitamin B12 is crucial for overall health and well-being.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following daily amounts of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

As with most vitamins and minerals, these amounts vary depending on age, sex, and pregnancy or lactation (breastfeeding) status.

It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.

RDA of Vitamin B12
RDA of Vitamin B12, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

13 Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

In order to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, it is important to include foods that are rich in essential Vitamin B12.

This nutrient is necessary for your body, as it cannot produce it independently and must therefore be obtained through your diet or supplements.

Here are 13 food options that are packed with Vitamin B12.

1. Clams


*In 3 ounces of cooked clams, you can find 84.1 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 1,402% of your daily value (DV).*

Eating clams is not only about treating yourself to a fancy appetizer; it’s also about getting a power-packed punch of B12!

These little shellfish are incredibly rich in this essential nutrient, which means they support your energy levels and keep your brain sharp.

Additionally, clams are rich in potassium, with both canned and fresh clams containing 534 mg of potassium per three ounces, representing 15% of your DV.

To enjoy clams, consider adding them to pasta dishes or stews such as Cioppino or Manhattan clam chowder. You can steam the clams until the shells crack open or boil them for approximately five minutes after the shells have opened.

2. Oysters


*In 3 ounces of cooked oysters, there is 21.84 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is equivalent to 364% of the Daily Value (DV).*

Oysters also contain the highest amount of zinc compared to any other food, with 32 mg found in six raw oysters, providing 400% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

This essential mineral supports the immune system by aiding in the defense against colds.

Additionally, zinc can stimulate testosterone production, potentially enhancing libido and maintaining healthy ovaries in women.

By including just a few oysters in your meal, you can fulfill a significant portion of your daily nutritional requirements. However, it’s important to consume them cooked to ensure safe consumption and maximize the benefits.

3. Mussels


*In 3 ounces of cooked muscles, there is an abundant amount of Vitamin B12, measuring 20.4 mcg, which accounts for 338% of the recommended daily value (DV).*

Aside from Vitamin B12, mussels also offer various other advantages to the body, such as being a rich source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.

To safely enjoy and make the most of the benefits provided by mussels, it is important to cook them thoroughly until their shells open. Any mussels that remain closed should be discarded, and those with a strong odor or slimy texture should be avoided.

Additionally, it is crucial to obtain mussels from reputable sources, store them correctly, and consume them as fresh as possible.

4. Crab


*In 3 ounces of crab meat, there is 10.3 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 171% of the daily value.*

Additionally, crab meat offers various other benefits to the body such as vitamins A, B, and C, along with magnesium.

Similar to oysters, crab meat is rich in zinc, with one can of blue crab meat providing 4.7 mg, equivalent to 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

The most recommended ways to consume crab meat include preparing crab cakes as an appetizer, adding it to seafood chowder, or incorporating it into your salad.

5. Sardines


*Sardines are a great source of Vitamin B12, with 7.6 mcg in just 3 ounces, which is 126% of the daily value.*

Surprisingly, they are also rich in calcium, containing the same amount as 8 ounces of milk in just 3 ounces of sardines.

Furthermore, they provide vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. If you choose to buy canned sardines in oil, make sure to rinse them before cooking to remove any excess salt.

For optimal consumption and benefits, it is recommended to select canned sardines packed in water or olive oil and avoid those packed in high-sodium sauces. Additionally, be sure to thoroughly rinse the sardines to eliminate any remaining salt.

Enjoy sardines on whole grain bread, salads, or as a pasta topping to incorporate them into a well-balanced meal.

6. Trout


*In 3 ounces of wild rainbow trout, there is 5.4 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 90% of the daily value (DV).*

Additionally, trout, being a fatty fish, is an excellent source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are beneficial for brain function and combating inflammation.

To enjoy trout at its best, it is recommended to grill it with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Pairing it with garlic-sautéed spinach and a baked sweet potato makes for a delicious and nutritious meal.

7. Salmon


*In 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon, there is 4.8 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is 80% of the daily value (DV).*

Additionally, salmon, like trout, is a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Moreover, a 3-ounce salmon fillet contains more than 100% of the DV of vitamin D.

For optimal health benefits, experts suggest baking or grilling salmon instead of frying, drying, or salting it.

One recommended way to enjoy it is by having grilled salmon over a salad with avocado and chickpeas.

8. Tuna

grilled tuna steak
grilled tuna steak

*Tuna fish contains 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12 in a 3-ounce serving, which is 42% of the daily value.*

Additionally, it is a good source of vitamin D (a 3-ounce serving contains about 150 IUs, or 25% DV). Tuna, like salmon and trout, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as EPAs and DHAs, which are believed to improve mood.

To get the most out of the health benefits of tuna, it is advised to consume it in moderation and choose healthier preparation methods. Opting for fresh or water-packed canned tuna instead of oil-packed can reduce unhealthy fats.

Grilling or baking the fish instead of frying it can also help preserve its nutritional content. To further enhance the health benefits, tuna can be paired with whole grains, leafy greens, and other nutrient-dense foods.

9. Haddock


*In 3 ounces of cooked haddock, there is 1.8 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 30% of the Daily Value (DV).*

Additionally, haddock is a great source of low-fat protein, although it contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids compared to oilier fish like salmon.

It is also a suitable choice for those concerned about mercury levels since haddock has lower amounts of this chemical compared to other fish such as tuna, halibut, and cod.

To enjoy haddock, you can bake it in the oven with simple seasonings like lemon and fresh herbs. Another option is to grill the fillets and serve them on a bun as a healthier alternative to a burger.

10. Beef


*In 3 ounces of broiled top loin sirloin, there is 1.3 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 23% of the Daily Value (DV).*

Additionally, beef is a rich source of zinc, with 7 mg found in 3 ounces. It is also high in protein and contains the B vitamin riboflavin, which is believed to provide relief from PMS symptoms.

For maximum health benefits, it is recommended to opt for lean cuts such as sirloin or tenderloin when consuming beef. Healthy cooking methods like grilling, baking, or broiling should be employed. To further enhance the nutritional value, portion sizes should be limited, grass-fed beef should be chosen, and it should be paired with a balanced plate of vegetables and whole grains.

11. Milk


*One cup of low-fat milk contains 1.2 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is 18% of the recommended daily value (DV).*

In addition to being a good source of calcium and vitamin D, milk may also help alleviate PMS symptoms in certain women, as reported by a recent study conducted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Furthermore, consuming whole milk could provide additional benefits. A separate study discovered that women who consumed more than one serving of high-fat dairy daily had a 25% lower chance of experiencing ovulation problems compared to those who did not.

There are several healthy ways to incorporate milk into your diet. You can include it in your morning cereal or oatmeal, use it as a base for smoothies or protein shakes, add it to soups or sauces for a creamier texture, or simply enjoy a glass of milk as a nutritious beverage.

12. Yogurt


*In 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, you can find 1.1 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is 18% of the daily value (DV).*

Yogurt offers numerous benefits for the body. It is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, and protein.

Studies have indicated that regular consumption of yogurt can help prevent diabetes and high blood pressure.

Moreover, the abundance of beneficial probiotics in yogurt aids digestion by balancing the microflora in your gut and alleviating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

To incorporate yogurt into your diet in a healthy manner, breakfast is an ideal time. You can enhance its nutritional value and taste by adding fruits, nuts, or granola.

Additionally, yogurt can serve as a base for smoothies or be used as a substitute for sour cream in savory dishes.

13. Eggs


*In a single large hard-boiled egg, there is 0.6 mcg of Vitamin B12, which accounts for 10% of the Daily Value (DV).*

Additionally, eggs provide valuable protein and vitamin D, which play a crucial role in calcium absorption and bone strength maintenance.

There are numerous healthy ways to include eggs in your diet, such as adding them to salads, creating vegetable omelettes, or preparing a protein-rich breakfast scramble.

Eggs can also serve as a binding agent in recipes or act as a nutritious topping for avocado toast.

Advantages of Incorporating Vitamin B12-Rich Foods Into Your Diet

Eating foods high in vitamin B12 can provide numerous benefits for your health and well-being.

Here are some key advantages of incorporating these foods into your diet:

Improved Energy Levels: Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout your body. By adding foods rich in vitamin B12 to your diet, you can increase your energy levels and combat fatigue.

Enhanced Brain Function: Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining healthy nerve cells and promoting proper brain function. Consuming foods high in this vitamin can help improve memory, concentration, and overall cognitive abilities.

Support for a Healthy Heart: Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. This vitamin helps regulate homocysteine levels, an amino acid that, when elevated, can increase the risk of heart problems. By consuming foods rich in vitamin B12, you can support a healthy heart.

Stronger Immune System: Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in the production of white blood cells, which are essential for a robust immune system. Including foods high in vitamin B12 in your diet can help strengthen your immune system and protect against illnesses and infections.

Nerve Health Maintenance: Vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining the health and integrity of your nerves. It helps in the production of myelin, a protective coating around nerve fibers that ensures efficient communication between the brain and different parts of the body. Consuming foods with high vitamin B12 content can help support nerve health and prevent nerve-related conditions.

Mood Regulation: Vitamin B12 is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and promotes a sense of well-being. By adding foods high in vitamin B12 to your diet, you can help stabilize your mood, reduce the risk of depression, and improve overall mental health.

Incorporating foods high in vitamin B12 into your diet can provide a range of benefits, including improved energy levels, enhanced brain function, support for a healthy heart, a stronger immune system, maintenance of nerve health, and better mood regulation.

What Are The Warning Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to various health problems. Recognizing the symptoms early is crucial for preventing long-term damage. Here are some of the warning signs:

  • Fatigue and Weakness: An early sign of B12 deficiency is feeling tired or having a lack of energy.
  • Pale or Jaundiced Skin: Individuals may have a pale look or notice a slight yellow tinge to their skin and the whites of their eyes, a condition known as jaundice.
  • Sensations of Pins and Needles: B12 is necessary for a healthy nervous system, and its deficiency can cause paraesthesia or the feeling of pins and needles, usually in the hands or feet.
  • Changes in Mobility: Without enough B12, one may have trouble walking or balancing due to disturbed nervous system function.
  • Glossitis and Mouth Ulcers: A swollen, inflamed tongue (glossitis) and mouth ulcers can be a sign of deficiency.
  • Breathlessness and Dizziness: Anaemia related to B12 deficiency can cause breathlessness and dizziness, especially when exerting oneself.
  • Disturbed Vision: In some cases, B12 deficiency can affect the optic nerve leading to vision changes.
  • Mood Changes: Deficiency can lead to irritability, depression, or changes in personality due to the impact on the nervous system.
  • High Temperature: A rare sign of B12 deficiency is a fever, which typically resolves with proper vitamin replacement.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Concentration problems, memory loss, or cognitive decline can result from prolonged B12 deficiency.

Note: If you suspect you’re suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency, consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Laboratory tests are usually needed to confirm the diagnosis, and addressing the condition early can improve health outcomes.

What Are the Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur due to several reasons, ranging from dietary choices to various medical conditions. Below are some of the common causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency:

Dietary Causes:

  • Vegetarian or Vegan Diet: Since B12 is primarily found in animal products, individuals who do not eat meat, dairy, and eggs might not get enough B12.
  • Poor Diet: People who consume a diet low in animal products or fortified foods may experience B12 shortages.

Gastrointestinal Issues:

  • Pernicious Anemia: This is an autoimmune condition where the body can’t absorb B12 due to a lack of intrinsic factor (a protein required for B12 absorption).
  • Gastric Bypass Surgery: Surgical procedures that involve removing or bypassing parts of the stomach or small intestine can affect B12 absorption.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions like celiac or Crohn’s disease can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, including B12.

Medication Interference:

  • Metformin: Commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes, Metformin can interfere with B12 absorption.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 Receptor Antagonists: These medications, used for gastric acid-related disorders, can reduce acid production, which is necessary for B12 absorption.
  • Antibiotics and certain other medications: Extended use can affect gut bacteria and the absorption of B12.

Biological and Physiological Causes:

  • Age: Older adults may have a decreased ability to absorb B12 due to changes in their digestive system.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can damage the stomach lining and liver, affecting B12 absorption and storage.
  • Genetic Mutations: Some people have genetic variations that affect their ability to process and utilize B12.

Other Factors:

  • Helicobacter pylori Infection: This type of bacteria can damage the stomach lining and is associated with peptic ulcers, which can lead to B12 deficiency.
  • Long-term Strict Dieting: Individuals on long-term restrictive diets may not consume enough B12.

It is essential for individuals who may be at risk of B12 deficiency to consult with healthcare providers for appropriate testing and potential supplementation. Vegetarians, vegans, and people with gastrointestinal issues should be especially vigilant in monitoring their vitamin B12 status.

What is the Fastest Way to Fix B12 Deficiency?

The fastest way to fix a Vitamin B12 deficiency typically involves two steps: diagnosing the issue and administering the appropriate treatment. Here’s a quick guide on how to address this deficiency:

Diagnosing B12 Deficiency

  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: If you suspect a B12 deficiency, the first step is visiting a healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis.
  • Blood Tests: The provider will order blood tests to check B12 levels and possibly intrinsic factor antibodies to rule out pernicious anemia.

Treatment Options

B12 Injections:

  • High-Dose B12 Shots: Intramuscular injections of Vitamin B12 are often the fastest method to correct the deficiency, especially in cases of severe deficiency or malabsorption issues.
  • Frequency: Initially, injections might be given frequently (e.g., daily or weekly) until B12 levels return to normal.

High-Dose Oral Supplements:

  • Immediate Supplementation: High-dose oral B12 supplements can also be effective, particularly for mild deficiencies or for maintenance after B12 levels have been restored.
  • Bioavailable Forms: Supplements with bioavailable forms such as methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin may be more effective for some people.

Nasal Gels or Sprays:

Alternative Delivery: This can be an option for those who cannot tolerate injections or have difficulty with high-dose pills.

Dietary Changes

  • B12-Rich Foods: Incorporating foods high in Vitamin B12 into one’s diet can help. These include meat, fish, dairy, and fortified cereals.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

  • Follow-Up Testing: After treatment begins, your healthcare provider will monitor your B12 levels to ensure they are improving.
  • Ongoing Assessment: Long-term follow-up may be necessary to determine if maintenance doses of B12 are needed.

Note of Caution

It is essential to work with a healthcare provider to determine the cause of B12 deficiency and the best course of treatment, as untreated B12 deficiency can lead to serious health issues.

A Word From DailyTipsHealth.com

Consuming foods rich in Vitamin B12 is crucial for your body to perform various essential functions.

These foods include animal products, fortified foods, and dietary supplements, with liver, beef, sardines, clams, and dairy products being some of the most abundant sources.

By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can significantly enhance your overall health and either boost your vitamin levels or prevent deficiency.

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What happens when your body is low on vitamin B12?

When the body is low on vitamin B12, it can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, anemia, and potential damage to the nervous system.

Who is at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency?

Individuals who follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, older adults with reduced stomach acid production, people with certain gastrointestinal disorders, and those who have undergone weight loss surgery are at a higher risk of developing Vitamin B12 deficiency.

What are the 4 stages of B12 deficiency?

The 4 stages of B12 deficiency are:

  • Stage 1 – Decreased B12 levels,
  • Stage 2 – Increased homocysteine levels,
  • Stage 3 – Megaloblastic anemia,
  • Stage 4 – Neurological symptoms.

It’s important to note that B12 deficiency can be easily treated with B12 supplements or dietary changes. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. Therefore, early detection and intervention are crucial.

How long does it take to cure B12 deficiency?

It typically takes a few weeks to a few months to cure B12 deficiency with proper treatment, which may include B12 supplements or injections.

What are the natural sources of Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Some fortified plant-based foods, like breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast, also contain Vitamin B12.

What are the health benefits of Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system, supporting brain function, boosting energy levels, promoting red blood cell production, and aiding in DNA synthesis. It is also important for preventing certain types of anemia.

What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency may include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty walking, memory problems, and mood changes.

How is Vitamin B12 deficiency diagnosed?

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be diagnosed through blood tests that measure the levels of Vitamin B12 in the blood. In some cases, additional tests may be done to determine the underlying cause of the deficiency.

Can Vitamin B12 deficiency be treated?

Yes, Vitamin B12 deficiency can usually be treated with Vitamin B12 supplements or injections. In some cases, dietary changes may also be recommended to ensure an adequate intake of Vitamin B12.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with Vitamin B12 supplementation?

Vitamin B12 supplements are generally considered safe when taken as recommended. However, high doses of Vitamin B12 supplements may cause certain side effects like diarrhea, itching, or blood clotting problems. It is important to follow the recommended dosage provided by healthcare professionals.

Is it possible to get too much Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that excess amounts are usually excreted in urine. Therefore, it is unlikely to overdose on Vitamin B12 from natural food sources or supplements. However, extremely high doses of Vitamin B12 may cause certain complications in individuals with certain medical conditions.

Can Vitamin B12 interact with any medications?

Vitamin B12 supplements can interact with certain medications, such as metformin (used to treat diabetes), proton pump inhibitors (used to reduce stomach acid), and certain antibiotics. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications and supplements you are taking to avoid any potential interactions.

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  1. [Vitamin B12 – Health Professional Fact Sheet] (https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/)
  2. [The discovery of vitamin B(12)] (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23183296/)
  3. [The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases] (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18408140/)