Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Dietary Sources and Daily Requirements

Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)


Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is somewhat unique in that it is primarily found in animal-based food sources as a protein-bound form. However, the vitamin can also be obtained from fermented food products where it is created by bacteria. This includes foods like miso. Some fortified foods are also enriched with vitamin B12. Many multi-vitamin supplements or B-complex supplements also contain the daily requirement of vitamin B12.


Since vitamin B12 is primarily obtained through animal food sources, some vegans or vegetarians may need to take a vitamin supplement to get sufficient vitamin B12.


To ensure that you are getting the full health benefits of vitamin B12, try to include a mix of the following foods that are high in vitamin B12:




  • Organ meats contain the highest levels of vitamin B12 of any food source. This includes foods like liver, kidney, pancreas, and heart.


  • Lean beef and lean, white meats, like chicken and turkey can also be used to boost your vitamin B12 intake.




  • Certain types of seafood are excellent dietary sources of B12, especially shellfish (bivalve mollusks), like clams and oysters.


  • Tuna is another excellent seafood source for B12.




  • All dairy foods contain some vitamin B12.


  • This includes milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.


Because vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal food sources, vegans need to eat fortified foods or take a supplement.


Fermented Soy Products


  • Fermented soy products, such as miso also contain vitamin B12.


Fortified Grain Products


  • Foods made with fortified or enriched grains are many people’s primary source of vitamin B12. This includes many fortified bowls of cereal and bread. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, ensure that your intake of vitamin B12 is sufficient.


Daily Requirement of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)


The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) defines how much of a nutrient is required by different people each day. For vitamin B12 (cobalamin), the RDA is:


  • 0.4 micrograms per day for infants 0-6 months old.


  • 0.5 micrograms per day for infants 7-12 months old.


  • 0.9 micrograms per day for children 1-3 years old.


  • 1.2 micrograms per day for children 4-8 years old.


  • 1.8 micrograms per day for children 9-13 years old.


  • 2.4 micrograms per day for males and females age 14 and older.


During pregnancy, the RDA for women is increased to 2.6 micrograms per day, and while breastfeeding the RDA is increased to 2.8 micrograms per day.


Because vitamin B12 can only be found in animal food sources, some vegetarians or vegans who do not ingest any animal-based foods have an increased risk of a deficiency of vitamin B12. People who have problems absorbing vitamin B12 are also more like to suffer from a deficiency.

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