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Vitamin B12

Examples of B12 foods

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential in the body for proper function of red blood cell production, neurological function, and DNA Synthesis. Vitamin B12 is bound to protein in food unless added to fortified foods.

Food Sources of B12

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, poultry, effs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods, but fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12 with high bioavailability for vegetarians. Some nutritional yeast products also contain vitamin B12. Fortified foods vary in formulation, so it is important to read the Nutrition Facts labels on food products to determine the types and amounts of added nutrients they contain.


B12 deficiency may cause anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite. Neurological symptoms may include numbness and tingling of hand and feet, memory loss, depression, confusion, balance problems, soreness of mouth or tongue.

Groups at Risk of Deficiency

  • Older adults

  • Individuals with pernicious anemia

  • Individuals with Gastrointestinal disorders

  • Individuals with Gastrointestinal surgeries

  • Vegetarians

The following medications can interfere with absorption of B12:

  • Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix)

  • H2 inhibitors (Zantac, Pepcid)

  • Metformin


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