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List of 11 vitamin B12 rich foods for you to resist deficiency

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List of 11 vitamin B12 rich foods for you to resist deficiency


Vitamins are an important nutritional component of a healthy diet. Vitamin B12 plays a huge role in keeping our health at an optimal level. With modern life challenges and fact that the human lifespan is getting longer, vitamin B12 deficiency has become a problem that affects more and more people, especially elderly. Here is a short sum of what it actually does in our body, what problems deficiency causes, plus 11 vitamin B12 rich foods and how much you need to eat of these every day. 

Short about what the vitamin B12 is and what it does

Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamine is a nutrient vital for cellular DNA creation and development as well as energy production (1). In order to absorb vitamin B12, it first has to be separated from food proteins by our stomach’s hydrochloric acid. After this a special substance called intrinsic or Castle’s factor binds to it and transfers it to the blood stream. Vitamin B12 molecular structure - 11 foods that will increase your vitamin B12 level

Picture 1. Molecular structure of vitamin B12.


From that point vitamin B12 partially serves in creation of chemicals called purines and pyrimidines which compose our DNA, and partially deposits in the liver for further use. Vitamin B12 is vital to formation of red blood cells, nerve cells and ultimately of every cell in our body (2).

What is vitamin B12 deficiency

Every substance in our body is present in a certain amount which ensures proper and normal functioning. Vitamin B12 is no different here. As much as 20% of population in industrialized countries are estimated to have deficiency of vitamin B12 and as much as 40% of the elderly. This disorder is caused by different diseases and/or lack of vitamin B12 in diet such is common for eg. vegans and vegetarians (3).

Picture 2. Pate is full of vitamin B12 - List of 11 foods that will give you required amount

Picture 2. Pate is full of vitamin B12. 

It is crucial to stress out that deficiency of B12 develops over course of month or even years as our body has sufficient reserves and thus long time can pass before you start experiencing symptoms and problems related to deficiency.

Table 1. Vitamin B12 concentrations in the healthy and sick (4,5).

State Concentration vitamin B12 (pg/ml;pmol/ml)
Normal serum levels 200-800; 148-590*
Borderline deficiency level 170-250; 120-180
 Deficiency level <170;<120
 Toxic level  –

Table 2. Pregnant women and levels of vitamin B12 (15).

Recommended Vitamnin B12 for pregnant women 
               First trimester Second trimester Third trimester
118-438;87-323 130-656;96-484 99-526;73-388

*These recommendations of vitamin B12 levels are given in many countries around world. This clinical assessment is however disputed in scientific literature and research. Many think that subtle deficiencies are present even at levels of 300 and more. Medical practitioners in Japan recommend higher levels of vitamin B12 above level of 500 pg/ml. This is due to the fact that there is a possible connection observed between levels of B12 below that concentration and onset of dementia and other neurological disorders (16,17).

Symptoms and diseases associated with vitamin B12 deficiency

Like mentioned, deficiency can be sustained for a long time before it shows any signs and symptoms. It usually affects nervous system and red blood cells, and these can lead to doctor to proper diagnosis. However, list of symptoms is a long one, with some that can even cause life threatening harm if left untreated. It is recommended that if you experience any of these you contact your doctor for further assistance.

Every nutrient deficiency is a potential risk for other diseases to develop or become more severe and vitamin B12 is not any different here. So, if you are suffering from any chronic disease or develop one it is wise to test for vitamin B12 deficiency to prevent potential future risks.

Picture 3. For vitamin B12 boost seafood is a great option

Picture 3. For vitamin B12 boost seafood is a great option.

Another note that is important to take from this is that deficiency in itself and the symptoms it causes can be cured by making up for lost vitamin B12. This can be done either by food, supplementation or injections. If deficiency is caused by some other disease, treating this disease may help restore vitamin B12 faster or prevent future deficiencies.

Sometimes damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency is too extensive and changes made to the tissue will be permanent. Vitamin B12 supplementation in that case can be helpful to return some of the previous function but treatment and recovery base by other therapy is needed. 

Table 3. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency (12,13,14).






• Fatigue

• Feeling faint

• Raised body temperature

• Loss of appetite

• Weight loss


 Psyche • Mood swings
• Depression
• Behaviour changes
• Irritability
Levels beneath 240pg/ml where found on a large number of hospitalized patients with mental disease (9)
 Mouth and togue • Sore and red tongue
• Mouth ulcers
• Itching and burning sensation in mouth
 Nervous system • Pins and needles sensation
• Disturbed vision
• Memory, thinking, understanding and judgement impairment
• Loss of coordinated movement  (walking, speaking, balance etc.)
Level recommended to help avoid onset of dementia in elderly is >350 pg/ml (8)
 Skin • Hyperpigmentation (rarely)
• A pale or yellow tint to the skin

Table 4. Short and long term diseases caused by vitamin B12 deficiency (8,9,10,11)

DiseaseTime for disease to developDegree of severityTreatment
Megaloblastic anaemiaMonths to yearsLight- severeB12 supplementation or injections
Dementia and other neurocognitive disordersYearsPotentially life threateningOther means of therapy, supplementation not proven useful by some research
Peripheral neuropathyMonths to yearsModerateB12 effective but some degree of impairment remains
Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord or  less commonly brainMonths to yearsModerate to severeB12 supplementation and other means of treatment
Fetal neural tube defects SeverePregnant women with B12 and folic acid deficiency risk this complication of pregnancy, folic acid and B12 supplementation for treatment
Psychiatric disturbancesYearsModerateB12 supplementation and other means of treatment
Optic atrophy  Less common, can cause blindness
InfertilityMonthsModerateB12 supplementation
Cardiovascular diseaseYearsModerate to severeSuggested link, but many factors are in play, so treatment is complicated and involves many different therapies

List of the 11 most vitamin B12 rich (all eater) foods

It is important for healthy diet to include high variety of different foods to ensure that all nutrients are provided. Vitamin B12 is exclusively found in animal products in nature, so some people groups that do not or rarely eat animal products and certain foods are more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency. However in modern society this problem is handled with grains fortified with this vitamin to ensure that there is enough vitamin B12 rich foods for each taste.  

Picture 4. Liver is rich in vitamin B12 List of 11 foods that will give you required amount of vitamin B12 (all eater) easy to use home health tests

Picture 4. Liver is rich in vitamin B12.

Table 5. Recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 (6).

intake (RDI)
MenWomenChildren & AdolescentsElderlyPregnantLactation
Concentration (μg/day)2.42.4

0.9 (1-3 yrs)

1.2 (4-8 yrs) 

1.8 (9-13 yrs) 

2.4 (13-18 yrs)
Picture 5. Eggs – good source of vitamin B12 List of 11 foods that will give you required amount of vitamin B12 (all eater) easy to use home health tests

Picture 5. Eggs – good source of vitamin B12.

Table 5. Recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 (6).

NumberType of foodServing size/μg B12Note
1Liver (lamb, veal, beef) cooked75g/ 52.9-66.0 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
2Kidney, lamb – cooked75g/59.2 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
3Liver (chicken, turkey, pork) -cooked75g/12.6-23.4 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
4Oysters – cooked75g/13.2-26.1 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
5 Herring, Atlantic- kippered75g/14.0 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
6Tuna, Bluefin – raw or cooked75g/8.2-9.3 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
7 Pate (goose liver, chicken liver) 75g/6.1-7.1 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
8Salmon, red/sockeye – cooked75g/4.4 μg* serving size exceeds RDI 
9Ground beef – cooked75g/2.4-2.7 μgServing size 100% of RDI
10Swiss/ Emmental cheese50g/1.7 μg70% RDI for B12
11Egg- cooked 2 large/1.5-1.6 μg66% RDI for B12
Picture 6. Salmon is rich in vitamin B12 List of 11 foods that will give you required amount of vitamin B12 (all eater) easy to use home health tests

Picture 6. Salmon is rich in vitamin B12.

How to test for vitamin B12 deficiency from home

Vitamin B12 level can easily be tested from your home. This test uses blood sample provided from finger to determine its value. By sampling the blood yourself and mailing it to a certified lab you can quickly be sure of your vitamin B12 level. It is safe, private, fast and cheap way to test vitamin B12 levels using same methods as in the doctor’s lab.  Some of these tests even offer certified doctor’s opinion on levels.

Recommended vitamin B12 home tests to use:

Vitamin B12 Test

Let’s Get Checked

Order home the kit, collect a small blood sample from a finger to the provided tube and place it in the kit container. Post the sample back and receive the results online. Clear and simple user instructions comes with this fully anonymous test kit.


  1. Accurate since it measure blood
  2. Available worldwide


1. Circa 0.5 ml blood needs to be collected

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  2. Unknown author, unknown date, Vitamin B12, National Institutes of Health, 
  3. Belghith A, Mahjoub S, Ben Romdhane N. ,11.2015., Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency. La Tunisie Medicale,
  4.  Unknown author, unknown date, Vitamin B12 fact sheet for health professionals, National Institutes of Health,
  5.  Unknown author, 2018., Reference ranges, American College of Physicians (ACP),
  6.  Unknown author, 31.01.2018., Vitamin B12, Nutritional reference values for  Australia and New Zealand, Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council,
  7. Unknown Author, 2015., Food Sources of Vitamin B12, Dieticians of Canada 
  8.  Steven F Werder , 06.05.2010., Cobalamin deficiency, hyperhomocysteinemia, and dementia, Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment,
  9.  Michael Ssonko, Henry Ddunguand Seggane Musisi,17.02.2014.,Low serum vitamin B12 levels among psychiatric patients admitted in Butabika mental hospital in Uganda, BioMed Central , 
  10.  Senol MG, Sonmez G, Ozdag F, Saracoglu M., 11.2008., Reversible myelopathy with vitamin B12 deficiency. Singapore Medical Journal,
  11.  Kasper, D. L., Fauci, A. S., Hauser, S. L., Longo, D. L. 1., Jameson, J. L., & Loscalzo, J. (2015). Chapter 128. Megaloblastic Anaemias. Harrison’s principles of internal medicine (19th edition.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.
  12.  Unknown author, unknown date, Complications- Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, NHS  
  13.  Unknown author, unknown date, Symptoms- vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia, NHS
  14.  Helen West RD, 07.10.2017., 9 signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, Healthline,
  15. Abbassi-Ghanavati M, Greer LG, Cunningham FG. Pregnancy and laboratory studies: a reference table for clinicians. Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;114(6):1326-31. 
  16. Mitsuyama Y, Kogoh H. , 03.1988., Serum and cerebrospinal fluid vitamin B12 levels in demented patients with CH3-B12 treatment–preliminary study., Japanese Journal of Psychiatry and Neurology,
  17. A. David Smith  Helga Refsum, 17.11.2011., Do we need to reconsider the desirable blood level of vitamin B12?, Journal of Internal Medicine,