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Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

How much you need each day:

  • 1.5mcg for adult women and men

Why you need it:

Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of red blood cells and is essential for normal nerve function, growth and the production of energy.

Good food sources:

Animal foods such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt are the best sources. Seaweed also contains vitamin B12 and fortified breakfast cereals have this vitamin added to them, making them a good source, too.

Too little:

A deficiency results in a particular type of anaemia called pernicious anaemia. However, in most adults, pernicious anaemia isn’t usually the result of a dietary deficiency of vitamin B12, but is caused by a lack of intrinsic factor, a protein that’s made by the cells in the stomach lining. This binds with vitamin B12 and then carries it to the small intestine where it’s absorbed. If too little intrinsic factor is present, a deficiency of vitamin B12 can result.

Top tip:

As vitamin B12 doesn’t occur naturally in plant foods, people who follow a vegan diet or strict vegetarian diet that limits eggs and dairy products may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

How to get enough:

Food Vitamin B12 Content (mcg)
150g grilled lean rump steak 3
150g grilled lean pork chop 3
300ml semi-skimmed milk 1.2
1 poached egg 0.6
40g All-bran 0.5
30g reduced-fat Cheddar cheese 0.4

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