Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for producing DNA and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also critical for healthy nerve and brain function.
Despite B12’s critical functions, the body doesn’t make it naturally — so you must obtain adequate amounts from foods and supplements. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended daily intakes (RDI) of vitamin B12 are 2.4 mcg for healthy adults over 14 years old; 2.6 mcg for pregnant women; and 2.8 mcg for breastfeeding mothers. For those at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, a practitioner may recommend additional daily amounts. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the stomach, and any that’s not used or excreted is stored in the liver.
So what foods should you eat to meet your vitamin B12 needs? Here are 11 of the best sources:
1. Organ meats
Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidney, brain, tongue and tripe are excellent sources of vitamin B12. Liver is exceptionally high: Beef and veal liver provide 990 percent of the RDI per 3.5-ounce serving. Lamb’s liver offers 1,500 percent of the RDI in the same size serving.
The kidneys of lamb, beef and veal are also excellent sources of B12, offering 1,300 percent of the RDI per 3.5-ounce serving. A typical 3-ounce portion of organ meats provides approximately 70 mcg of vitamin B12.
Organ meats also contain other valuable nutrients such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, E and K. Organ meats are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, so it’s important to keep consumption to 10 percent or less of total caloric intake.