Nutrient to Know: Vitamin B12

Get the facts about vitamin B-12.

There are a lot of misconceptions about this vitamin. Get the facts about B-12.

What is it?

Less commonly known as "cobalamin" this water-soluble vitamin is almost always found in multi-vitamins and B-complex supplements. Unlike most other water-soluble vitaminss, B-12 requires stomach acid for absorption. It’s also stored within the body for many years, unlike others like riboflavin and thiamin that are quickly passed in the urine.

Why is it good for you?

Your body needs B-12 to help form DNA, to build your nervous system and keep red blood cells healthy. Since the body likes to store B-12, large amounts of supplements are often not necessary – there’s just one catch. B-12 is mostly found in animal products, so folks that follow a long-term vegan diet might need to consider a daily supplement. Since you need stomach acid for absorption, your ability to break it down decreases with age. Folks who take a lots of antacids will also need to up their intake to make sure they're getting enough.

Where can you find it?

The daily requirement for B-12 is 6 micrograms per day and it can be found in all kinds of foods including daily, meat, fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.

B12-Rich Foods
3-ounces cooked clams = 84 micrograms (1400%)
3-ounces cooked salmon  = 5 micrograms (83%)
1 cup fortified cereal (such as bran flakes )  = 1.5 milligrams (25%)
1 cup low fat (1%) milk = 1.2 micrograms (20%)
1 ounce Swiss cheese = 0.9 micrograms (15%)
1 large egg 0.6 micrograms (10%)
3-ounces cooked turkey breast = 0.3 micrograms (5%)
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