Contrary to popular belief, vitamin B12 is not naturally produced by animals, neither it is by plants. This vitamin is produced by a gut microorganism that feeds on cobalts from the soil (and grass). Some plants are actually contaminated with B12 (One o the theories says its animal excreta that contaminates them!), which is why you might get a little bit of it if you don’t wash your fruits and veggies, though it’s not reliable at all.
On to some real vitamin B12 foods.
How Much B12 Do We Need ?
To enjoy the various benefits of B12, our body requires a VERY small amount of this vitamin, around a few MICRO grams a day, although you can safely consume much larger amounts of this vitamin as it is water-soluble and even stored in the liver, kidneys and muscles for future usage. This is also why it can take years to develop a deficiency, but let’s get back to our business and take a look at some foods with B12.
Foods Rich In Vitamin B12
- Clam. Provides 98.9μg per 100g (1648% of vitamin B12 RDA). Also rich in Vitamin C, Copper, Selenium, Iron, Phosphorus, Manganese, Niacin, Riboflavin, Potassium and Zinc, and is moderately anti-inflammatory. One small clam contains 9.4μg (156.55% RDA) ! B 12 foods can’t get any better.
- Liver. Most animals’ liver is rich in vitamin B12, most noticeably lamb, veal, beef, moose, turkey, duck and goose, with the lamb highest on the list, providing 85.7μg per 100g (1428% RDA). Although usually very rich sources of Vitamin A, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folate, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Pantothenic Acid, these foods are VERY high in cholesterol.
- Kidneys. Lamb kidneys provides the highest amount of B12 of all animals’ kidneys, providing 78.9μg per 100g (1315% RDA) of B12, but again, internal organs are very, very high in cholesterol, and I would avoid them at any cost.
- Caviar. Of all fish eggs, whitefish contains the most B12, 56.4μg per 100g (940% RDA), while black and red caviar contains 20μg per 100g (333% RDA). Chicken eggs, for comparison sake, contain only 1.3μg per 100g, which accounts for 22% of RDA.
- Octopus. Cooked octopus contains 36μg per 100g (600% RDA), and is also a rich source of Copper, Iron, Selenium, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Zinc, Phosphorus, and Potassium, but is also quite high in cholesterol.
- Oyster. Depending on the type, cooked wild eastern oyster being the highest in B12, containing around 35μg per 100g (584% RDA). It is also rich in Selenium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium and Phosphorus, but also rich in sodium and cholesterol.
- Mussel. Blue cooked mussels contain 24μg of B12 per 100g, which is 400% of RDA. They are also a rich source of Selenium, Iron, Manganese, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Folate, Zinc and Phosphorus.
- Fish. Highest vitamin B12 rich fish is Mackerel, providing 19μg per 100g serving (317% RDA), while Herring provides 18.7μg (312% RDA) and Salmon 18.1μg (302% RDA). These fish are also very rich in omega-3 fat acid, which you have probably heard of it’s advantages. Other fish, like tuna, cod, sardines, bluefish and trout, also contain a good amount of B12 in them.
- Crabs. Contain 11.5μg of vitamin B12 (192% of the RDA) for a 100g serving, which means that an average leg (135g) will provide you with around 15.5μg (260%RDA) of this vitamin. Lobsters will give you 4.04μg (67% RDA) per 100g serving, which means around 6.59μg (110% RDA) in one, average, single lobster.
Remember, those were the highest vitamin B12 rich foods, and contain A LOT more than our required daily dosage, which officially-stated is just 2-3μg. There are other animal foods containing vitamin B12, like beef, cheese, eggs, pork, mutton and fish. They all contain high amounts of vitamin B12 and each one of them by itself can easily give you enough of this vitamin, as discussed in much greater detail in my new B12 ebook.
Vegan Foods High In Vitamin B12
You might have read that this vitamin is produced by a bacteria in the soil, and almost any fruit or vegetable contains it to some extent, but washes away when you wash the plant with water. This it not entirely correct, as this vitamin is actually produced by gut bacteria that feed on cobalt from the grass (thus the name cobalamin). One of the theories on why some plant foods are contaminated with B12 is that animal excreta is actually responsible for this, but that’s not very based yet.
You would probably notice some fermented soy products, such as tempeh or miso, and algae like nori and spirulina, sold as a “Great Source of Vitamin B12!”, while the truth is that they usually contain little to no amount of the ACTIVE form of B12, but only contain analogs of it. If you’re taking B12 supplements, always ensure that it contains an active form of this vitamin – methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin are the best.
There are no reliable vegan sources of vitamin B12 known. Some people recommend nutritional yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Algae like spirulina but their efficiency is highly doubted.
More Serious B12 Sources
If you have problems absorbing vitamin B12, or if you’re vegan – Methylcobalamin B12 shots are your best bet. Methylcobalamin is the most effective form of B12 and is naturally found in your body. It is much more absorbable than its cheap brother – Cyanocobalamin. I highly recommend Mehylcobalamin shots to anyone having absorption issues with B12.
Make sure you read about vitamin B12 injections if you’re even considering taking them, and you might as well want to take a look at the next case study of Eli, whose wife was worried with the absence of animal foods in Eli’s diet for the recent 53 years, and forced him to take a series of B12 shots. (power of women!)
Edit: I have added a post about vitamin B12 blood test. Check it out if you’re thinking of going through one.
What questions do you have regarding foods with vitamin B12? I want to hear your thoughts. Use the comment box below to share your ideas. I want to create a rich discussion here
“When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no “I’ll start tomorrow.” Tomorrow is disease.” ~ Terri Guillemets.