Vitamin B12 is a B group vitamin that plays a significant role in cell formation and regulating many bodily functions. Naturally, vitamin B12 is not present in plant based foods. Hence, it’s hard to find vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians. However, with the advent of the latest food technology, we now have fortified breakfast cereals that contain vitamin B12 nutrients. Let’s find out why foods that contain vitamin B12 are essential for our overall development and how to add B complex foods to your daily diet.

Vitamin B12 importance and its sources


Vitamin B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin or cobalamin) is essential in our body as it is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in the formation of red blood cells and keeps our nerve cells healthy. Vitamin B12 foods are animal based foods like milk and meat products, which can be added to our daily diet as a food source or as food supplements. Vitamin B12 foods support our body by providing us energy, helping iron function and preventing various diseases.

The Indian Recommended Dietary Allowances, 2020, has a recommended daily intake of 2µg/day of Vitamin B12 for both sedentary males and females. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency 

If you have low Vitamin B12 in your body, it can lead to the symptoms mentioned below:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia 
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling sensation in the body
  • Pain or trouble in walking
  • Mood swings or depression 
  • Forgetfulness or memory loss
  • Vision issues

Thus, if you feel any of these symptoms in your body that persist for a long time, it is always advisable to consult a doctor and start consuming vitamin B12 rich foods like meat, fish, milk, eggs, etc.

Check out our healthy recipes section for some delectable yet nutritious recipes.

Vitamin B12 Benefits and Its Importance

Vitamin B12 food is an essential nutrient for red blood cell formation and the development of the nervous system. It also helps in the DNA formation that is the genetic material in all cells. Some of its benefits are discussed below:

  • Formation of red blood cells: Vitamin B12 sources help in the formation of red blood cells and prevent anaemia. If your body has low vitamin B12, the first thing to notice is that you may feel low on energy. This is because the red blood cells deliver oxygen that converts into energy and is required for the proper functioning of your body.
  • Maintenance of nerve cells and brain health: Vitamin B12 helps in the maintenance of the nervous system and promotes brain health. Scientific evidence has shown that daily intake of vitamin B12 sources boosts your memory function and prevents cognitive decline.
  • Endurance and energy level of the body: Vitamin B12 plays a significant role in energy metabolism as it enhances stomach performance and boosts endurance.
  • Prevention of depression: Adequate intake of vitamin B12 rich foods induces dopamine and endorphins. These happy hormones can slow down the symptoms of depression. 

B complex foods also help in breaking down carbohydrates and transport important nutrients in our body. Since it is only present in animal based foods, it is important to ensure an adequate consumption of milk and meat products to prevent its deficiency.

It needs to be noted that supplementation might be a great route for people who don’t eat meat as there are very limited vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians out there. Some popular options include milk based products like milk, cheese and yoghurt.

Vitamin B12 Food sources

Vitamin B12 is mainly present in animal based foods and its absorption is also dependent on the amount of protein we add to our diet. Despite the fact that vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians are limited, with fortification and enrichment, companies are producing varieties of vegetarian foods that contain vitamin B12 as well. Below we have listed some foods that contain vitamin B12: -

  • Dairy foods: Milk and milk products like paneer, cheese, and yoghurt.
  • Non-vegetarian foods: Meat and meat products that contain fish, liver, eggs, and organ meats.
  • Vegetables: Vitamin B12 vegetables’ examples include enriched spinach leaves, mushrooms, and edible algae or sea algae. However, there are no vitamin B12 fruits that have been artificially fortified yet. 


Foods that contain Vitamin B12 are required for the normal functioning of our bodies (cell metabolism and function). Hence, fresh milk and meat products should be a part of our daily diet. It is also well retained in animal based foods even after cooking, making it one of the few nutrients that are not diluted with heat. To keep diseases at bay, include enough Vitamin B12 rich sources or B complex vitamins in your diet, either through food enrichment or with a combination of different B complex foods.