By Sheela Prakash
B-12 might seem like a far-fetched thing you need to consume, but it’s actually quite an important vitamin. A member of the B family of vitamins, B-12 is crucial for brain and nerve health as well as the production of red blood cells and DNA. Since you can’t make it on your own, you need to get your fill on B-12 through food. It’s recommended you get about 2.4 micrograms a day, though pregnant and breastfeeding women need a bit more. If you take in more than you need, you’re body can store some of it for future use, but if you don’t get enough, you’re actually at risk for a certain type of anemia. Luckily, there are lots of everyday foods that are rich sources. Here are 5:
1. Milk & Other Dairy
Whether you choose milk, yogurt, or cheese, they all provide a good amount of B-12. Cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk all provide B-12 but later has the lowest level. It doesn’t matter if it’s full-fat, low-fat, or non-fat — the B-12 content is the same. Interestingly, among the many types of cheese out there, Swiss cheese has the highest level of B-12. Even more of a fun fact: Studies have shown that B-12 in dairy may be better absorbed by the body than other sources.
Eggs are full of all sorts of B vitamins, and in particular B-12. You’ll get about 22% of your daily needs from two eggs. So definitely go ahead and make eggs part of your morning routine, but also don’t forget they make a great dinner, too (looking at you, shakshuka). One important thing to note, though, is it’s the yolks that contain most of the B-12 so opting for the egg white omelette at your favorite diner isn’t going to give you the B-12 you want.
3. Fish & Shellfish
Not all fish and shellfish are rich in B-12 but you in fact have tons of options. Salmon, trout, tuna, and clams are four of the best choices. You’ll actually get well over your daily B-12 needs in one serving of any of them. It’s easy enough to make salmon fillets dinner or tuck tuna salad into your lunch sandwich, but don’t hesitate to think beyond the usual. Try fresh trout instead of salmon for a change or pick up the canned smoked trout at Trader Joe’s as an alternative to tuna. Oh, and steamed clams always make for a fast and fancy meal.
You’ll also get over 100% of your daily B-12 needs from a serving of beef. For the best concentration of the vitamin, opt for leaner cuts such as flank and skirt steak. These two cuts also happen to be pretty affordable options for everyday dinners. Try tossing either into a simple marinade and grill it for a simple main dish or use it as the base for tacos or a dinner salad.
5. Nutritional Yeast
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may be wondering how you can get your fill or B-12. While most vegetarian and vegan foods aren’t naturally rich in the vitamin, you can look towards fortified sources. One great one is fortified nutritional yeast, which is also affectionately known as “nooch”. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains about 130% of your daily needs. It delivers a nutty, cheesy flavor that’s great sprinkled on just about anything, including popcorn, roasted vegetables, and pizza. You can even use it to make vegan mac and cheese.