Fruits and veggies
Pattern of variety fresh of organic fruits and vegetables (Photo: Tanja Ivanova, Getty)

Need More Energy? Try These 5 Foods Full of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is an important player in keeping your engine running and your energy levels up. Find out which foods can increase your intake naturally.

Fruits and vegetables
Tanja Ivanova, Getty

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This article was originally published on Clean Eating.

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. Studies have found Vitamin B12 helps athletes build muscle mass and improve endurance, reduce muscle fatigue, boosts production of red blood cells, and speed recovery. 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-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 intake of vitamin B12. 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 (2.4 micrograms per day for adults). With these in your daily rotation, you can boost your energy and ensure you’re eating a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet.

(Photo: Clean Eating)

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 a fourth cup providing anywhere from 8.3 to 24 mcg per serving, or about 346 to 1,000 percent 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.

(Photo: Clean Eating)

2. Salmon

There’s more than just omega-3’s found inside delicious and nutritious seafood. A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon provides 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12, or about 108 percent 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.

Ground beef

3. Lean Ground Beef

Along with an array of other important nutrients that support healthy living and aging, an 85 percent lean, 15 percent fat pan-browned three-ounce portion of ground beef contains 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12, or about 100 percent 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.

(Photo: Clean Eating)

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 percent 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 six-ounce container of yogurt contains 1 mcg of vitamin B12 too, or about 43 percent of the daily value.

(Photo: Clean Eating)

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 to 1 ¼ cups) of most standard fortified breakfast cereals provides about 25 percent 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!

Lead Photo: Tanja Ivanova, Getty