How Much Do You Know About Vitamin B12?

How Much Do You Know About Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in some foods, added to other foods, and available as a medication and dietary supplement. This water-soluble vitamin is a real workhorse when it comes to supporting health.

Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 supports health on many levels including:*[1,2]

  • Red blood cell production
  • Cellular energy and cellular energy metabolism
  • Healthy homocysteine levels
  • Nerve function

What Foods Have Vitamin B12 in Them?

From a dietary standpoint, good sources of vitamin B12 are fortified nutritional yeast and breakfast cereals, as well as dairy products, clams, salmon, tuna, ground beef, and beef liver.[2] Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 unless they have been fortified.[3]

Unfortunately, absorption of this important nutrient can be an issue. For example, bioavailability of vitamin B12 is about three times higher in dairy products than in meat, fish, and protein, and absorption from dietary supplements is about 50% higher than from food.[2]

How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?

For both males and females, the daily recommended dietary intake is:[3]

1-3 years 0.9 mcg

4-8 years 1.2 mcg

9-13 years 1.8 mcg

14 years + 2.4 mcg

Women who are pregnant need 2.6 mcg and when lactating need 2.8 mcg.

Higher amounts of vitamin B12 are often recommended and considered safe because the body absorbs only what is needed and eliminates any excess.[4]

B Ready with B-12!

It can be difficult to get enough vitamin B12 from diet alone, especially for older adults, individuals with gastrointestinal issues, vegetarians, and vegans.[2] Because reduced absorption of vitamin B12 may be an issue, especially for those over age 50, the National Academy of Sciences recommends getting vitamin B12 through fortified foods and/or dietary supplements.*[5]

The active form of vitamin B12 is known as methylcobalamin, which is a superior, biologically active form of this valuable nutrient so be sure this is indicated on the label of the dietary supplement you choose.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



  1. European Food Safety Authority. Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12 and red blood cell formation, cell division, energy-yielding metabolism, and function of the immune system. EFSA Journal. 2009;7(9):1223.
  2. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2022;Dec 22.
  3. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Consumers. 2023;Dec 15.
  4. Mayo Clinic. Vitamin B-12. 2023;Aug 10. 
  5. National Academy of Sciences. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. National Academies Press (US). 1998;9.
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