Preventing Vitamin B12 DeficiencyIf you have opted to eliminate all animal-based foods from your diet, or if you suffer from certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you may need to supplement your vitamin B12 intake.
Role of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin) plays several essential roles in the body:
- Proper nerve functioning
- Production of red blood cells
- Production of DNA
Sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal-based foods such as eggs, dairy products, meat and offal, fish, and shellfish. Fruits and vegetables, as well as grain products contain only traces.
Some foods, particularly those aimed at vegans and vegetarians, are enriched with vitamin B12:
- Breakfast cereals
- Nutritional yeasts
- Meat substitutes (such as certain soy burgers)
- Plant-based drinks (soy, rice, etc.)
Vitamin B12 Content of Certain Everyday Food
|Food||Portion||Vitamin B12 Content, in micrograms (mcg)|
|Liver (beef, veal, lamb)||75 g||52.9 to 66|
|Salmon, raw or cooked||75 g||4.4|
|Soy burger||75 g||1.8|
|Egg||2 large||1.5 to 1.6|
|Beef, cooked||75 g||1.3 to 2.7|
|Milk||1 cup||1.2 to 1.4|
|Pork, cooked||75 g||0.8 to 1.1|
|Soy, almond, or rice beverage, enriched||1 cup||1.0|
|Yogurt||175 g (3/4 cup)||0.3 to 0.6|
|Chicken, cooked||75 g||0.2 to 0.3|
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for men and women age 19 and over. Pregnant or nursing women have slightly higher requirements: 2.6 and 2.8 mcg per day, respectively.
Since the body is able to store enough vitamin B12 to meet its needs for several months, vitamin B12 deficiency is extremely rare among healthy people whose daily diet includes foods that are naturally rich in—or enriched with—vitamin B12.
Supplements, where there’s good reason
Vitamin B12 supplements are useful primarily for vegans and vegetarians who are unable to meet their daily requirements with enriched foods, as well as people who suffer from a disease that limits the absorption of this vitamin.
There is no point taking vitamin B12 supplements to boost your energy, except in very rare cases of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Careful with medication
Some medicines can block the absorption of vitamin B12. Be sure to check with your pharmacist to ensure you’re getting the proper dose of your supplement.
If you have questions about vitamin supplements or concerns about the quality of your diet, talk to your pharmacist. Some pharmacies even offer consultations with a registered dietician.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.