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Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 & How to Increase it Naturally

<p>Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 &amp; How to Increase it Naturally</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 4 min read

There are several foods which are rich in Vitamin B12. Red meats, yogurt, milk, dairy, fish, and other foods. Because we simply do not consume these foods in high enough volumes, a majority of the population is deficient in Vitamin B12, and other essential vitamins and minerals for that matter. Additionally, some individuals who eat well, exercise, but follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, are not going to consume meats, fish, or dairies at all. This is also going to lead to a possible Vitamin B12 deficiency. Even with the right diet and a healthy lifestyle, you run the risk of being deficient; add in the fact that as you get older your body does not absorb these water soluble vitamins at high rates (like it did when you were younger) and this can lead to even greater deficiency levels. What's the solution to your problem? Incorporate a vitamin B12 supplement of course! And, while you're at it, you might as well consider omega-3 supplements, B6 supplements, Vitamin D and E supplements.

Food alone isn't (usually) enough 

Even the cleanest diet is going to be missing some essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. Your body does not absorb 100% of the vitamin which you consume in the foods you are eating. As your body processes and digests foods, only a certain percentage of the vitamins and minerals are being absorbed. So, even a diet which is rich in red meats, salmon, tuna, and dairy (all foods containing high levels of B12), there is still the possibility you aren't getting high enough levels in your diet.

To further complicate things, when you reach the age of 50, your body absorbs vitamins and minerals at even lower levels than it did when you were younger. Especially water soluble vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B12. So, if you are 50 or older (or nearing that age), even with the perfect diet and lifestyle, a supplement can greatly help increase levels at which your body is going to absorb B12, and the other essential vitamins and minerals the body needs to survive and thrive. If you are on the fence about using supplements, discuss it with your doctor, and this will instantly clear any concerns you might have as to their safety when incorporating the supplement with other medications or prescription drugs you are currently taking.

Will this resolve b12 deficiencies?

For a majority of people who are taking a vitamin B12 supplement, eat a healthy diet, and follow their doctor's instructions, your levels of deficiency in B12 (as well as other vitamins or minerals you are deficient in), should naturally take care of themselves. However, there is always the possibility that taking a supplement and your diet will not eliminate the levels of deficiency you suffer from.

Individuals who are anemic might require higher dosage than those who do not suffer from this condition. Individuals who are diabetic might need higher dosage due to the decreased levels of blood sugar, and inability to eat certain foods. Pair this along with the fact that your body doesn't readily absorb the vitamin, or you suffer from other medical conditions, and a deficiency might still persist if you are taking a supplement, and following your doctor's advice in terms of the proper diet and foods you should be consuming. What do you do in this case?

If this is a problem you are struggling with, if you still feel overly tired, or notice you are always lethargic, it is possible that other solutions might present themselves. Blood work or lab results are a great way to determine if there are other medical concerns you need to treat. If you are taking a supplement, and following a healthy diet which is rich in Vitamin B12, it is best to speak to your doctor to help you determine the next approach to take. In some cases it is simply doubling the dosage or incorporating other medications, and in some cases, your doctor might offer other solutions to the deficiency you are suffering from.

Read more about Vitamin B12:

Which foods should I add to my diet which can naturally help increase deficiencies?

As detailed above, red meats, steak, bison, and other foods of this caliber can help increase levels of Vitamin B12. Incorporating dairies into your diet (milk, eggs, cheese, etc.) is another simple way to increase B12. Soy-based products or rice-based products, are also great additions to your diet, which will naturally help increase levels of vitamin B12.

Bear in mind that you need to consume these foods in high volumes. And, of course some foods (such as red meat) are higher in B12 than other foods might be (like the rice-milk or soy-milk you are drinking). So make sure you consider this, and discuss with your doctor, which foods you should be adding to your diet, or eliminating from your diet, in an attempt to increase levels of deficiency of B12 and other vitamins/minerals you might be deficient in.

Individuals who do not consume these foods (due to dietary restrictions, medical conditions, or even religious or personal beliefs) are going to find it difficult to naturally consume high volumes of Vitamin B12 in their diet. If this is the case, and you are trying to find a natural solution to your problem which is safe and effective, the use of a supplement might be exactly what you have been looking for.

Diet alone is usually not going to resolve deficiencies, even in cases where you are eating foods which are extremely rich in Vitamin B12. Discuss with your doctor the inclusion of a supplement (whether it is a pill, drops, or injections) to help increase the levels of deficiency you are suffering. Your doctor will inform you of the best ways to naturally and safely increase levels of B12.

Deficiencies are common and a problem which millions of people suffer from. If you are in this group, and have tried other solutions to increase levels of absorption naturally, consider including a supplement to your diet for natural, faster, easier absorption of the vitamin through your blood stream.

Top 15 Vitamin B12 Rich Foods You Should Be Eating!

You need to get vitamin Bs for you to have a healthy body. When it comes to vitamin B12, it’s difficult to get it although you can get most of the B vitamins pretty easily by consuming a balanced diet which contains whole grains produce.

It is only in animal sources where vitamin B12 is found naturally. This vitamin is vital because it helps produce the red blood cells and the DNA, it encourages the nerves to function in a healthy state, and it offers support to your immune system. This means that the people who do not consume dairy products or meat in a daily basis will have trouble in attaining the recommended level of vitamin B12 daily. (2.4 micrograms) For pregnant and breastfeeding people, the daily recommended is 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg respectively. The other group of people which face a risk of deficiency for Vitamin B12 is adults older than 50 years old, which is caused mainly by absorption issues, and the people with digestive issues like celiac diseases. This deficiency causes lightheadedness, fatigue and weakness, so if you still have the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency after eating the foods below, you should seek consultation from a doctor. But mostly, your body should be rich in vitamin B12 after consuming at least some of these vitamin B12 rich foods.



Vitamin B12: 3 ounces of cooked clams contain 84.1mcg (1402% of DV)

Other benefits of clams to the body: clams are also filled with potassium apart from having the highest concentration of vitamin B12 than any other food. Fresh or canned clams can contain 534 mg of potassium in 3 ounces which is 15% of your DV.

The best ways to consume clams: in stews and pasta dishes like Manhattan and Cioppino clam chowder, clams are very delicious. Clams are supposed to be steamed until the shells crack open. After the shells open, you can boil them for about five minutes.


Vitamin B12: cooked oysters contain 21.84 mg in 3 ounces. (364% DV)

Other benefits of oysters to the body: with a stunning 32 mg in six oysters which a raw, oysters contain more zinc than any other food, which make up 400% of your RDA. The main importance of this essential mineral is that it helps fight off the colds, thus supporting your immune system. Another major advantage of zinc in the body is that it helps ovaries in women stay healthy and encourages production of testosterone in men, which boosts libido.

The best ways to consume oysters: oysters are best enjoyed as seafood stew or as appetizers. That is the recommendation of Cynthia Sass, who is a contributing Health’s nutrition editor, MPH and RD.


Vitamin B12: cooked mussels contains 20.4 mcg in 3 ounces which is 338% DV.

Other benefits of mussels to the body: mussels are also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids in addition to Vitamin B12.

The best ways to consume mussels: Cynthia Sass says that mussels should be served as seafood stew or as an appetizer.



Vitamin B12: 3 ounces of crab contains 10.3 mcg of vitamin B12 which is about 171% DV.

Other benefits of crab to the body: crab meat is rich in magnesium, and Vitamins A, B and C. crabs are also loaded with zinc just like the oysters. Blue crab meat contains 4.7 mg of zinc which is 58% of your RDA in one can.

The best ways to consume crab: crab cakes can be prepared as appetizers. The crab meat can be mixed into your salad, or added to seafood chowder.


Vitamin B12: 3 ounces of sardines contain 7.6 mcg which is about 126% DV

Other benefits of sardines to the body: these little fish are full of calcium, which is astonishing to learn. 8 ounces of milk contain just as much calcium as 3 ounces of sardines. These little fish also contain omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. to get rid of excess salt, rinse the sardines well before cooking if you buy them canned in oil.

The best ways to consume sardines: Cynthia Sass says that the sardines are great when prepared over spaghetti squash in a marinara sauce. You can toss some veggies to give the sauce a nutritional boost, if you have any left in the fridge.


Vitamin B12: wild rainbow trout contains 5.4 mcg in three ounces which is 90% DV.

Other benefits of trout to the body: a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins which are crucial for promotion of brain function and fighting inflammation is the trout, which is a fatty fish.

The best ways to consume trout: when grilled with extra virgin olive oil, trout is very delicious. Cynthia Sass recommends it to be served with a baked sweet potato and alongside spinach which is garlic sautéed.


Vitamin B12: cooked sockeye salmon contains 4.8 mcg of vitamin B12 in 3 ounces which is 80% DV.

Other benefits of salmon to the body: salmon, just like the trout is a very rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are heart healthy, and also proteins.

An important point to note also is that a salmon fillet of 3 ounces contains vitamin D of more than 100% DV.

The best ways to consume salmon: instead of frying it, salting or drying it, the professionals recommend grilling or baking it in an oven to maximize the numerous health benefits which salmon has to offer. Cynthia Sass says that a salad with chickpeas and avocado over a grilled salmon is perfect.


Vitamin B12: light tuna which is canned contains 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 42% DV.

Other benefits of tuna to the body: with 3 ounces of tuna containing about 150 IUs of vitamin D or 25% DV, we can for sure say that tuna has loads of vitamin D.  Including docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs) and eicosapentaenoic acids (EPAs), tuna is a very rich and natural source of omega 3 fatty acids, just like the trout and salmon, which is responsible for boosting the mood.

The best ways to consume tuna: In water Cynthia Sass recommends look for chunk light tuna when you buy it canned. She also suggests that you can skip the mayo if you want to make tuna salad. She recommends mixing Dijon mustard, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and Italian herb seasoning with canned tuna to make a tuna salad that is chilled.



Vitamin B12: haddock which is cooked contains 1.8 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 30%DV.

Other benefits of haddock to the body: haddock is surprisingly a very good protein source with low fat. When compared to other oily fish such as salmon, it contains much fewer omega 3 fatty acids. Haddock has the lowest level of chemicals if you compare it to the other types of fish including halibut, cod and tuna. If you are concerned about mercury, this is considerably the best option.

The best ways to consume haddock: baking haddock in the oven with the use of simple seasonings such as fresh herbs and lemon makes it perfect. If you prefer a healthier way to eat it apart from the burger, you can have the fillets grilled and served on a bun.


Vitamin B12: top loin sirloin of broiled beef contains 1.3 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 23% DV.

Other benefits of haddock to the body: with the amounts of zinc going up to 7 mg in three ounces of beef shows that it is another great source of Zinc. Beef has also large amounts of proteins and riboflavin vitamin B which alleviates the symptoms of PMS.

The best ways to consume beef: Cynthia Sass recommends keeping the beef lean. Beef should be combined with whole grains, veggies and fats that are good like brown rice with ginger stir fry and beef over it.

You should be careful not to overdo the beef as too much consumption of red meat could increase your chances of getting heart diseases due to the high cholesterol content.


Vitamin B12: a cup of milk which is low fat contains 1.2 mcg which is 18% DV.

Other benefits of milk to the body: a recent study by university of Massachusetts showed that not only is milk a rich source of vitamin D, it also helps some women to avoid PMS symptoms. Milk has also many other additional benefits according to science studies. Another different study showed that women who consume more than a cup of milk with high fat content daily were less likely to experience problems during ovulation than those who did not consume milk regularly.

The best ways to consume milk: Cynthia Sass says that there are several very healthy ways to include milk in your diet. She advised making a milk smoothie with almond butter, frozen fruit, cinnamon and ginger.


Vitamin B12: yogurt with low fat contains 1.1 mcg of vitamin B12 in 8 ounces which is 18% DV.

Other benefits of yogurt to the body: yogurt is a great source of protein, magnesium and calcium. Scientific studies show that eating yogurt regularly could greatly reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and diabetes. Its ability to balance the bacteria in your digestive track and its plenty probiotics benefits makes yogurt a great deal in aiding digestion. It is also known to ease IBS symptoms.

The best ways to consume yogurt: Sass says that yogurt whipped in smoothies is great. It can also be mixed with nuts, fruits, oats, and herbs like fresh mint. She recommends using low fat or nonfat organic varieties of yogurt.



Vitamin B12: a hard-boiled egg which is large contains 6 mcg of vitamin B12 which is 10% DV.

Other benefits of eggs to the body: eggs are rich sources of vitamin D and proteins which help the body in calcium absorption for formation of strong bones.

The best ways to consume eggs: you can’t get the egg wrong. There are several ways to prepare it. You can do a hard boil, soft boil, or have it scrambled. Sass recommends an omelet prepared with avocado and veggies, and with additional fresh fruits. A salad with veggies which are chopped, quinoa and pesto is another great way to enjoy eggs. You have to be careful about the cholesterol amount however because one egg yolk contains about 60% of the daily cholesterol that you are supposed to take.


Vitamin B12: a chicken breast which is roasted contains .3 mcg which is 5% DV.

Other benefits of chicken to the body: when it comes to burning fats, chicken is terrific at it, though it is a lean protein. Because of its high thermogenic effect, 30% of the calories contained in the chicken can be burnt by the body by just digesting it.

The best ways to consume chicken: whether you prefer it baked in an oven, grilled or even roasted, there are countless ways to enjoy the chicken.



Vitamin B12: 3 ounces of turkey contain 3 mcg which is 5% DV

Other benefits of turkey to the body: lean turkey, with only one serving, has almost half RDA of selenium in your body. This is a mineral which is responsible for boosting your body’s immune system.

A bonus from the turkey is that it contains a chemical called tryptophan which helps improve the quality of your night’s sleep.

The best ways to consume turkey: when fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts are served with turkey breasts which are roasted in oven, and on a garden salad, the delicacy is mouthwatering for sure. You can also serve ground turkey which is prepared in a Mariana sauce over spaghetti squash.

You can avoid the skin which contains more saturated fat, and stick to the white meat such as the breast meat.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.