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A Healing Nutrient Profile: Vitamin B12

Jul 27 2021
3 min read
Close-up overhead shot of a bowl of yogurt next to a bowl of raspberries and a bowl of blueberries.

Your body uses vitamin B12 to form red blood cells, nerves and DNA, and to maintain your central nervous system.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 for both women and men is 2.4 micrograms daily. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need slightly more: 2.6 and 2.8 micrograms, respectively.

As many as 20 percent of us are borderline deficient in B12; low levels of the nutrient are more common in older people. Many people lose the ability to absorb adequate amounts of B12 from food after age 50, which is why your doctor might have tested your levels and recommended that you consider supplementing.

Vegetarians and vegans, the elderly, people who are on prescription heartburn or diabetes drugs, those with digestive disorders like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease and those who have had weight-loss surgery might also need to take B12 supplements to get enough of it.

Our bodies absorb B12 better alongside other B vitamins, including niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and magnesium, so a multivitamin is a good option if you’re low in the nutrient. People with severe B12

Deficiencies may need weekly shots of the vitamin or high-dose pills.
Low levels of B12 can cause anemia, loss of balance, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs and weakness. A severe deficiency can cause issues including incontinence, depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss and loss of taste and smell.

Where Can You Get Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in meat and seafood (it’s particularly high in shellfish and organ meats) and fortified plant foods. Some of our favorite foods that contain vitamin B12 include:

Clams
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 74.2 mcg

Oysters
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 18.2-26.3 mcg

Chicken liver
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 12.6-15.9 mcg

Sardines (canned in oil or tomato sauce)
Serving Size: 2.5 oz
Amount of Vitamin B12: 6.8 mcg

Ground beef
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 2.4-2.7 mcg

Salmon
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 2.3 mcg

Eggs
Serving Size: 2 lg (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 1.5-1.6 mcg

Milk (any fat)
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of Vitamin B12: 1.2-1.4 mcg

Yogurt (plain, low-fat)
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount of Vitamin B12: 1 mcg

Pork
Serving Size: 2.5 oz (cooked)
Amount of Vitamin B12: 0.8-1.1 mcg

Fortified almond or rice milk
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of Vitamin B12: 1 mcg