Vitamin B12 Rich Foods – Benefits, Sources & Deficiency Symptoms


The human body needs at least 30 vitamins, minerals, and compounds for optimal functioning and to produce energy in day-by-day life. In this article, we will elaborate on one of these complex components – vitamin B12, its importance in the human body, vitamin B12 rich foods, and people with a risk of B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Rich Foods

Shots and vitamin b12 supplements are the popular choices amongst individuals with vitamin b12 deficiency. If a meat-free diet is not carefully adopted, then this might trigger some nutrient deficiencies in the body, such as vitamin B12, essential for brain health. Continue reading to find out what is vitamin B12, its benefits, symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, and a list of vitamin B12 rich foods.

What is Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, known as cobalamin, is part of the vitamin B complex. This complex is involved in many processes in the human body: helps produce energy, and supports the functioning of the musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, nervous system, digestive system, and immunity.

This vitamin is not naturally produced by the human body, and chemically speaking, B12 is one of the most complex vitamins. To be absorbed in our body, cobalamin needs special processing in foods in the stomach. Here, animal protein gets in contact with gastric acid and enzymes, then releases vitamin B12.

The released molecule combines with another substance secreted by the stomach cells, called intrinsic factor, which allows it to be absorbed in the small intestine then to be transported through the blood in the liver, then to all body cells.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Cardinal symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • Anemia;
  • Neuropsychologic problems (fatigue, focus, and memory disorders, tingling sensation, mobility changes);
  • Digestive symptoms: mild diarrhea and glossitis;

Once absorbed in the body, vitamin B12 is stocked in the liver, where is progressively released according to your body’s needs. In its absence from the diet or in case of any chronic affection which affects its absorption, the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency will be felt after a few years.

In advanced stages, a lack of B12 leads to Biermer anemia or pernicious, an auto-immune disease which is manifested by:

  • Megaloblastic anemia, a feeling of fatigue and weakness, dizziness, headaches, and breathing difficulties;
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: mild diarrhea or constipation, digestive and urinary incontinence;
  • Neurological symptoms: focus or memory problems, sensorial and motor disorders.

Now you know what is vitamin B12 and its deficiency symptoms! Now take a look at this list of vitamin B12 rich foods:

Potential Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

Vegan vitamin B12 rich foods are relatively scarce, but supplements are available in capsules, pills, tablets, and liquid forms. Those who avoid eating meat should add vitamin B12 fortified food or supplements to their diet to meet their nutritional needs.

  • Fortified cereals
  • Nori seaweed
  • Fortified soy or almond milk
  • Tempeh
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Chlorella
  • Plant-based meats
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Vegan spreads

Also read: Antioxidant-rich foods to include in your diet

Vitamin B12 Rich Foods

1. Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are rich in B12. To fulfill the vitamin B12 requirement, you need 50-60 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms daily.

You can also try cremini mushrooms or other vegetarian options like cottage cheese, and whey powder.

2. Salmon 

Salmon is fatty fish rich in B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. 178 grams can provide 200% of the daily value for vitamin B12.

3. Dairy Products

Choose to consume a cup of unsweetened yogurt daily, and this way you’ll get calcium, vitamin D, B12, and healthy bacteria. You can also cosnume cottage cheese, and milk. 

4. Seafood

You can consume clams, crabs, and oysters. Clams are low in fat and an excellent source of vitamin B12. They’re also high in protein, iron, and other B vitamins.

5. Fortified Cereals

Vegans can get their B12 intake from fortified breakfast cereals or fortified whole wheat flour. Make sure to look for varieties that offer 100% of DV per single serving.

6. Meat and Eggs

Chicken breast, ham and red meat are good sources of vitamin B12. Eggs don’t include as much vitamin B12 as meat but they still provide protein and B12. We hope this list of vitamin B12 rich foods has been useful and keep reading more interesting articles from our health section. 

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