The best foods for vitamin B12
For a healthy body, you’ve got to get your vitamin Bs. And although it’s pretty easy to get most B vitamins by eating a balanced diet containing lots of produce and whole grains, vitamin B12 is another story. Vitamin B12—which helps your body produce DNA and red blood cells, supports your immune system, and encourages healthy nerve function—is found naturally only in animal sources. That means people who don’t eat meat or dairy can have trouble reaching the daily recommended 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 (2.6 mcg if you’re pregnant and and 2.8 mcg if you’re breastfeeding). People with digestive issues like celiac disease and adults older than 50 are also at risk for deficiency due to absorption problems, which can cause weakness, fatigue, and lightheadedness.
Vitamin B12: 84.1 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked clams (1,402% of your DV)
Other body benefits: Not only do clams have the highest concentration of vitamin B12 of any food, they’re also filled with potassium. Three ounces of either canned or fresh clams contain 534 mg of potassium, 15% of your DV.
Vitamin B12: 21.84 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked oysters (364% DV)
Other body benefits: Oysters contain more zinc than any other food—a whopping 32 mg in six raw oysters, 400% of your RDA. The essential mineral supports your immune system by helping fight off colds. Another benefit? Zinc can encourage testosterone production, which may improve libido and help women’s ovaries stay healthy.
Vitamin B12: 20.4 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked muscles (338% DV)
Other body benefits: In addition to vitamin B12, mussels are also a good source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin B12: 10.3 mcg in 3 ounces (171% DV)
Other body benefits: Crab meat contains vitamins A, B, and C, as well as magnesium. And like oysters, it’s loaded with zinc: one can of blue crab meat has 4.7 mg, or 58% of your RDA.
Vitamin B12: 7.6 mcg in 3 ounces (126% DV)
Other body benefits: You may be surprised to learn that these little fish are packed with calcium—3 ounces has the same amount as 8 ounces of milk. Sardines also contain vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy them canned in oil, be sure to rinse before cooking to get rid of excess salt.
Vitamin B12: 5.4 mcg in 3 ounces of wild rainbow trout (90% DV)
Other body benefits: Fatty fish such as trout are great sources of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain function and fight inflammation.
Vitamin B12: 4.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked sockeye salmon (80% DV)
Other body benefits: Like trout, salmon is a rich source of protein and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Also good: One 3-ounce salmon fillet contains more than 100% of your DV of vitamin D.
Vitamin B12: 2.5 mcg in 3 ounces of light, canned tuna fish (42% DV)
Other body benefits: Tuna is loaded with vitamin D (a 3-ounce serving contains about 150 IUs, or 25% DV). Like salmon and trout, it’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acids (EPAs) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs), which are thought to help boost mood.
Vitamin B12: 1.8 mcg in 3 ounces of cooked haddock (30% DV)
Other body benefits: Though it contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids than oilier fish such as salmon, haddock is still a terrific low-fat protein source. It’s also a good option if you’re concerned about mercury: haddock has lower levels of the chemical than other fish, including tuna, halibut, and cod.
Vitamin B12: 1.3 mcg in 3 ounces of broiled top loin sirloin (23% DV)
Other body benefits: Beef is another great source of zinc, containing 7 mg in 3 ounces. It’s also packed with protein and the B vitamin riboflavin, which is thought to help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Vitamin B12: 1.2 mcg in 1 cup of low-fat milk (18% DV)
Other body benefits: Not only is it a good source of calcium and vitamin D, but milk might also help some women avoid PMS symptoms, according to a recent University of Massachusetts at Amherst study. And whole milk could offer additional benefits: Another study found that women who consumed more than one serving of high-fat dairy daily were 25% less likely to experience ovulation problems than those who did not.
Vitamin B12: 1.1 mcg in 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt (18% DV)
Other body benefits: Yogurt is a great source of calcium, magnesium, and protein. Studies show that eating it regularly could prevent diabetes and prevent high blood pressure. Thanks to plenty of beneficial probiotics, yogurt is also a great digestive aid, balancing the microflora in your gut and easing IBS symptoms
Vitamin B12: .6 mcg in one large hard-boiled egg (10% DV)
Other body benefits: Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin D, which is important for helping your body absorb calcium and maintain strong bones.
Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces of roasted chicken breast (5% DV)
Other body benefits: Chicken is a lean protein, making it a terrific fat-burning food (it has a high thermogenic effect, meaning your body can burn about 30% of the calories it contains just by digesting it).
Vitamin B12: .3 mcg in 3 ounces (5% DV)
Other body benefits: Just one serving of lean turkey has nearly half your RDA of selenium, a trace mineral that bolsters immune function. Bonus: Turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical that may help you get a good night’s sleep.