Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is needed to keep your blood healthy and is used by the body to make proteins. Most people can easily get all the vitamin B12 they need from food, but some groups of people, such as vegans, have to work harder to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets. Having a diet that is too low in vitamin B12 over time can cause anemia (a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells) or problems with memory and confusion.

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
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified foods such as cereals, soy milk, and meat substitutes

If you are a vegan (a vegetarian who does not to eat any animal products), then you should take a vitamin supplement or eat fortified foods (foods that have vitamin B12 added). Check food labels to find products such as breakfast cereals, cereal bars, soy milk, and meat substitutes that are fortified with vitamin B12. You can also add nutritional yeast to soups and casseroles to get more vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast is different from the yeast used to bake bread – it’s a powder that has a slightly nutty flavor. You can find it in most natural or health food stores.

FoodServing Size Micrograms of B12 per Serving
Dairy Products
Cow’s Milk1 cup1.2
Cheddar Cheese1 ounce0.2
Ricotta Cheese1/2 cup0.4
Yogurt1 cup1.2
Fortified Foods
Cheerios®1 cup1.9
Special K®1 cup6.0
Wheaties®3/4 cup3.0
Whole Grain Total®3/4 cup6.0
Nutritional yeast, fortified1 tbsp4.0
SILK® plain soymilk1 cup3.0
Meat, Poultry, Fish
Chicken breast3 ounces0.3
Hamburger, lean3 ounces2.1
Shrimp3 ounces1.4
Sirloin steak3 ounces1.5
Salmon, Atlantic3 ounces2.7
Meat Alternatives
Veggie burger11.4
Morningstar Farms Chick Patty®11.2
Morningstar Farms Sausage Style Recipe Crumbles®1 cup4.6
Tempeh1 cup0.1
Remember: Most people get enough vitamin B12, but vegans should make sure to eat foods fortified with B12 to help keep their brain and blood healthy. It’s important, but not hard to do. You can fulfill your daily needs by drinking even just one glass of soymilk per day.