Center for Young Women's Health

Vitamin B12



  • Vitamin B12 is needed to keep your blood healthy.
  • Vitamin B12 is found naturally in some animal products and added to some foods too.
  • A diet low in vitamin B12 can cause anemia.

Why is Vitamin B12 important?

Vitamin B12 is needed to keep your blood healthy and is used by the body to make proteins. Most people can easily get all the vitamin B12 they need from food, but some groups of people, such as vegans, have to work harder to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets. Having a diet that is too low in vitamin B12 over time can cause anemia (a condition that occurs when you don't have enough healthy red blood cells) or problems with memory and confusion.


How much Vitamin B12 do I need every day?

The amount of vitamin B12 you need each day, or recommended daily allowance (RDA), depends on your age. If you are 9 to 13 years old, you need 1.8 micrograms each day. If you are 14 years old or older, you need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 each day.


What foods are good sources for Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products and is also added to certain foods. Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

If you are a vegan (a vegetarian who does not to eat any animal products), then you should take a vitamin supplement or eat fortified foods (foods that have vitamin B12 added). Check food labels to find products such as breakfast cereals, cereal bars, soy milk, and meat substitutes that are fortified with vitamin B12. You can also add nutritional yeast to soups and casseroles to get more vitamin B12.


Food Serving Size Micrograms of B12 per Serving
Dairy Products
Cow's Milk 1 cup 1.2
Cheddar Cheese 1 ounce 0.2
Ricotta Cheese ½ cup 0.4
Yogurt 1 cup 1.4
Fortified Foods
Cheerios® 1 cup 1.7
Special K® 1 cup 6.0
Wheaties® ¾ cup 3.0
Whole Grain Total® ¾ cup 6.0
Nutritional yeast, fortified 1 tbsp 4.0
Meat, Poultry, Fish
Chicken breast 3 ounces 0.3
Hamburger, lean 3 ounces 2.1
Shrimp 3 ounces 1.4
Sirloin steak 3 ounces 1.5
Salmon, Atlantic 3 ounces 2.6
Meat Alternatives
Veggie burger 1 1.4
Morningstar Farms Chick Patty® 1 1.2
Morningstar Farms Sausage Style Recipe Crumbles® ½ cup 4.6
Tempeh 1 cup 0.1


Remember: Most people get enough vitamin B12, but vegans should make sure to eat foods fortified with B12 to help keep their brain and blood healthy.


Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 6/14/2012


Related Guides:

The Nutrition Facts Label

The Nutrition Facts Label tells you what nutrients (components of food your body needs to grow and stay healthy) and how much of those nutrients are in found in one serving of the food. It is located on the outside of most food packages, but isn't on most fresh foods (such as fruits and vegetables or meats). The Nutrition Facts label can help you make choices about the food you eat...

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