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Did you know vitamin B12 is often called “the energy vitamin”? Not only is vitamin B12 pivotal in keeping your blood and nerve cells healthy, but it’s also involved in making DNA – meaning it’s literally part of the material that makes up every single cell of your body. So, when you hear health professionals say vitamin B12 is kind of a big deal, we mean it!
Now, there may be a “magic pill” for what seems like everything these days, including vitamin B12, but buyer beware. Vitamin B12 infusions offered by high-end shopping centers and spas tout a “natural” boost of energy for a pretty penny. But are they really necessary? Most likely, no.
I will admit, I’m a bit biased in that I have a food first, supplement as a safety net philosophy. But I still couldn’t fathom paying the $90 I’ve seen quoted per infusion when research shows there are staple foods you can easily eat more of to naturally increase your B12 levels.
Skip the pricey infusions and instead try tweaking your diet. Consider adding these five foods into your meals to naturally increase your B12 intakes. And, of course, always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your particular needs. Some lifestyles, such as vegan and vegetarianism, do require supplementation of B12 to ensure you are meeting your needs.
5 Foods High in Vitamin B12
The following foods all contain 20% or more of the recommended daily vitamin B12 intake. With these in your daily rotation, you can boost your energy and ensure you’re eating a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet.
1. Nutritional Yeast
Did you know vitamin B12 is usually found in animal products and proteins, yet one of the richest sources is actually vegan? I’m not kidding! Nutritional yeast is a vitamin B12 powerhouse with ¼ cup providing anywhere from 8.3 to 24 mcg per serving, or about 346 to 1000% of the daily value. While the amount varies from brand to brand, it’s without question worth it to add a little sprinkle of nutritional yeast to your pastas, popcorn, and sauces to help increase your B12 intakes, naturally.
If you’re new to nutritional yeast, it has a flakey texture and blends well into dishes you’d like to impart a cheese-like flavor, all while keeping your recipes dairy-free. Try it in this Zucchini Lasagna with Cashew Cheese Pesto.
There’s more than just omega-3s found inside delicious and nutritious seafood. A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon provides 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12, or about 108% of the daily value! Plus, it also contains vitamin D, an important nutrient necessary for keeping your bones healthy.
While salmon comes in a variety of convenient options, from smoked and refrigerated to cooked and canned, there are a plethora of ways to add more salmon into your busy routine. For nights when you have a bit more time, consider adding this heart-healthy Mediterranean Baked Salmon into your meal plan.
3. Lean Ground Beef
Along with an array of other important nutrients that support healthy living and aging, an 85% lean, 15% fat pan-browned 3-ounce portion of ground beef contains 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12, or about 100% of the daily value. For individuals who struggle to get enough vitamin B12, choline, iron, zinc and protein in their diets, lean beef is an excellent addition that provides quite literally a lot of bang for your nutritional buck. It’s easy to prepare and pairs well with other nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, that most Americans need to be eating more of.
If you’re tight on time but want to capitalize on all the nutrients in this powerhouse food, try making these Sirloin Beef Wraps tonight!
4. Cow’s Milk
Unless you have a food allergy or lifestyle preference, there’s no reason to remove cow’s milk from your diet. It’s high in vitamin B12, coming in at 1.3 mcg per 1 cup serving, or about 54% of the daily value. Dairy milk plays an important role in growth and development through supporting bone health, as well as regulating blood pressure.
If milk isn’t your jam, you can still reap the benefits of dairy by including yogurt in your diet, too! A 6-ounce container of yogurt contains 1 mcg of vitamin B12 too, or about 43% of the daily value.
You can obviously enjoy dairy whichever way you prefer, but for a quick, on-the-go option, try mixing your dairy of choice into this simple Blueberry Smoothie.
5. Fortified Breakfast Cereal
Quite possibly my favorite B12-rich food to recommend to families regardless of economic stance is fortified breakfast cereal. It’s convenient, available on multiple government food assistance programs and downright delicious. A serving (about 1-1 ¼ cups) of most standard fortified breakfast cereals provides about 25% of the daily value of vitamin B12, or about 0.6 mcg. Pair the cereal with cow’s milk and you get a double dose of vitamin B12!
While there’s a wide variety of fortified breakfast cereals to choose from, I recommend choosing two. First, choose one that contains minimal added sugar, like a whole grain oat cereal. Then, choose a second that your family loves, usually with a tad more added sugar. Do a 70/30 blend of the whole grain oat with the “fun” cereal to create a nutrient rich bowl of goodness to start your day!
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