Quick Nutrition Check for Vitamin B12


Your body needs vitamin B12 to help keep your nerve cells and red blood cells healthy and to make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. This resource will show you how much vitamin B12 you need and how to make sure you have enough vitamin B12 in your diet.

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

Age Recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 (micrograms or mcg) Do not exceed
1 - 3 years 0.9 An upper limit for vitamin B12 has not been established.
4 - 8 years 1.2
9 - 13 years 1.8
14 - 70+ years 2.4
Pregnant 2.6
Lactating 2.8

Adults older than 50 years: Older adults do not absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12 very well. Anyone over 50 years should get the recommended amount of vitamin B12 from fortified foods or a supplement that contains vitamin B12 (such as a multivitamin).

Vegetarians: Vegetarian diets may be low in vitamin B12. Vegan diets will be low in vitamin B12. People following a vegan diet should get vitamin B12 from enriched foods and beverages and/or a supplement (such as a multivitamin).

Steps You Can Take

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods: meat, fish, poultry, seafood, eggs, and milk products. It is also added to some foods and beverages like fortified soy and rice beverages.

To estimate the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, keep a food record for one or two days, recording what you eat and drink. Then, add up the vitamin B12 in your diet using the amounts in foods listed below.

Food Measure Vitamin B12 (micrograms)
Meat and Alternatives
Clams, Canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 74.2
Liver, beef, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 52.9
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 18.0
Sardines, canned in oil, drained 75 g (2 ½ oz) 6.7
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 5.6
Salmon, Pink, canned with bone 75 g (2 ½ oz); 125 mL (½ cup) 3.7
Beef, hip, rump roast, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.3
Beef, regular ground, pan-fried 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.3
Tuna, light, canned in water, drained 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.2
Salmon, Atlantic farmed, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.1
Egg, chicken, boiled 2 large 1.6
Pork, loin, rib/roast, roasted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.8
Ham, honey, smoked, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.3
Chicken, breast, no skin, roasted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.2
Chicken, whole leg, with skin, roasted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.2
Vegetarian Alternatives
Soyburger 1 patty (70 g) 1.4
Meatless wiener 1 wiener (70 g) 1.6
Meatless deli slices 75 g (2 ½ oz) 3.0
Milk and Alternatives
Milk, 1% fat 250 mL (1 cup) 1.2
Cheese, cottage, 2% fat 250 mL (1 cup) 1.1
Yogurt (fruit and plain) 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.8-1.0
Soy beverage, fortified 250 mL (1 cup) 1.0
Rice beverage, fortified 250 mL (1 cup) 1.0
Cheese (average of 16-30% fat) 50 g (1 ½ oz) 0.4
Red Star VSF Yeast Flakes™ (Vegetarian support formula) 2 heaping tbsp (large flake) or 1½ heaping tbsp (mini flake) 8.0

Source: Canadian Nutrient File, March 2015; Lesaffre Yeast Corporation

Last updated: April 2015

These resources are provided as sources of additional information believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication and should not be considered an endorsement of any information, service, product or company.

Distributed by:

Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC (formerly Dial-A-Dietitian), providing free nutrition information and resources for BC residents and health professionals. Go to Healthy Eating or call 8-1-1 (anywhere in BC). Interpreters are available in over 130 languages.

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