Fish & seafood have a great vitamin B12 content. A serving of the most popular fish, like salmon and tuna, provides more than the recommended daily intake!
Health benefits of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is crucial for health. It’s involved in DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, cellular energy production, and the proper function of the central nervous system.[1,2]
Also, it plays a key role in the metabolism of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels increase the risk of many diseases.
Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to anemia, neuropathy, neurodegenerative disease and cognitive impairment.
Pregnant women should get enough vitamin B12 to decrease the risk of neural tube defect.
Keep in mind that folic acid supplementation may mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
How much vitamin B12 do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg. Both for women and men.
Pregnant and lactating women require slightly higher doses of 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg, respectively.
Is vitamin B12 deficiency common?
Actually, vitamin B12 deficiency is pretty common. We can’t synthesize it. We have to get it from food. But, there aren’t many common foods high in vitamin B12. Only certain animal-based foods contain some vitamin B12.
On the other hand, plant-based foods contain no vitamin B12 whatsoever. Only fortified cereals, juices, and nutritional yeasts contain moderate amounts of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is naturally synthesized only by certain bacteria in the soil and microflora of animals.
Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and muscles of animals. It’s secreted in their milk as well.
In fact, milk, dairy, meat, eggs, poultry, and fish are the best dietary sources of vitamin B12. They can help us meet our daily needs.[3,4]
Which fish is rich in vitamin B12?
Fish has a high vitamin B12 content. Mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines, trout, salmon, and pollock are particularly rich in vitamin B12. Just a 3-oz serving provides more vitamin B12 than the recommended daily intake!
Mackerel is the richest fish in vitamin B12. Herring, bluefin tuna, sardines, and trout are excellent dietary sources as well.
|Vitamin B12 |
(mcg per serving)
Salmon and tuna are the two most popular fish. Both are particularly high in vitamin B12.
Bluefin tuna is the richest tuna in vitamin B12. Yellowfin and skipjack tuna have a slightly lower vitamin B12 content.
What’s the vitamin B12 content of canned fish?
Many people consume canned fish. It’s cheaper and more convenient.
Canned fish contain almost the same amount of vitamin B12 as cooked fish.
Should I eat canned fish?
But, you better avoid the regular consumption of canned products. At many cases, they contain high amounts of added sodium. Too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Canned products usually contain between 300 and 1,000 mg of sodium per serving. According to the American Heart Association, we should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. Less is even better.
In addition, they may contain low-quality vegetable oils. Thus, canned products may make you gain weight, as vegetables oils are among the most calorie-dense foods. Just a tbsp of any vegetable oil contains almost 125 calories!
Moreover, the regular consumption of canned products may increase BPA (Bisphenol A) concentrations in the body. This chemical compound may play a role in infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), certain metabolic and endocrine disorders, as well as breast and prostate cancer.[7,8]
Seafood is an excellent dietary source of vitamin B12
Actually, all seafood has a great vitamin B12 content. Besides, fish, oysters and shrimps are particularly high in vitamin B12.
Clams are the richest seafood in vitamin B12, though. A serving provides more than 1,400% of the recommended daily intake!
(mcg per serving)
Do we absorb vitamin B12 of fish?
It’s estimated that the bioavailability of vitamin B12 from fish is about 42%.
As fish is rich in vitamin B12, and we absorb a high percentage of it, fish consumption can significantly increase vitamin B12 status in the body.[10,11]
Does cooking destroy vitamin B12 of fish?
Cooking of fish can significantly decrease its vitamin B12 content. For instance, according to a study, grilling, boiling, frying, steaming, or microwaving of herring decreased its vitamin B12 content up to 62%.
According to another study, about 30-40% of vitamin B12 of fish is lost during microwave heating.
Both temperature and time of cooking play a key role in vitamin B12 concentrations. So, better avoid cooking fish at high temperatures and don’t overcook fish in order to preserve most of its vitamin B12 content.
Other common foods high in vitamin B12
We get vitamin B12 only from animal-based products. There aren’t many common plant-based foods high in vitamin B12.
Only some types of algae and seaweed, like chlorella, as well as fortified foods are the only good vegan dietary sources of vitamin B12. Also, tempeh is the only soy product containing some vitamin B12.
Beef liver is the richest food in vitamin B12. Just a serving contains more than 70 mcg of vitamin B12. This dose is 2,940% of the recommended daily intake! But, we should avoid eating too much beef liver. It may lead to vitamin A overdose, as it’s extremely rich in vitamin A.
Besides fish, milk and dairy, eggs, poultry, and especially, chicken, as well as meat, are among the richest common foods in vitamin B12.
Cow’s milk is the most important dietary source of vitamin B12, though. It’s particularly rich in highly bioavailable vitamin B12.
Furthermore, you could easily boost your vitamin B12 intake by taking dietary supplements. You’ll find a wide variety of vitamin B12 supplements on iHerb.
Vegans should benefit the most.
Vitamin B12 supplements are considered pretty safe. In fact, vitamin B12 toxicity is rather uncommon. Even extremely high dosages of 1,000 mcg are rather unlikely to cause any side effect.