Why Vitamin B12 is so important

Why Vitamin B12 is so important
Table of Contents

    Low on energy? It's time to talk about Vitamin B12. Like iron, Vitamin B12 is a  super-important nutrient that helps make red blood cells, but it's not one that’s always talked about. It's also not on nutrition labels so how do you know if you're getting enough? 

    Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Because vegans avoid these foods, it's particularly important to consume foods where Vitamin B12 is added or as supplement. Red blood cells use Vitamin B12, as does DNA, brain and nerve cells. 

    Groups at Risk for Deficiency

    Vitamin B12 is required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin however, over 20% of adults over 60 are deficient.

    The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and women ages 14 years and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg daily, respectively. For children 9 to 13 years, the RDA is 1.8 mcg daily, for 4 to 8 years, it's 1.2 mcg daily, and for 1 to 3 years, it's 0.9 mcg. Babies in their first year only need 0.4 to 0.5 mcg daily. 

    Individuals with difficulty absorbing nutrients in the gut, those who consume too little of the nutrient, and those who have reduced the size of their gut are most at risk. Specifically, these groups are:

    • Vegans
    • Exclusively breastfed infants of vegans
    • Older adults
    • Individuals with pernicious anemia
    • Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders
    • Individuals who have had gastrointestinal surgery  

    Sources of Vitamin B12 - Animal-Based

    Meat sources are the best sources of B12, however, not all meat sources have the same amount of B12. Did you know that beef liver has 235 times the amount of B12 as chicken? Read below to learn which foods are highest in B12. 

    vitamin b12 animal sources

    Sources of Vitamin B12 - Plant-Based

    Plant-based sources of B12 are considerably lower than animal-based sources however, eating a diet rich in several of these sources will allow you to get to the recommended daily amount. 

    plant based vitamin b12 sources

      How Your Freezer Can Help You Get More Vitamin B12

      Preparing dishes high in B12 can help make sure you keep your energy high. Because some of the best sources of Vitamin B12 are protein sources that can be a expensive, buying them in bulk and cooking them into delicious freezer-friendly recipes is the best way to make sure you have quick access to your healthy food everyday. We also know that Vitamin B12 is not one of the required nutrients on a nutrition label (only Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium are required) so we did the work for you and curated recipes that are good sources of Vitamin B12, plus included the amount of B12. 

      Prepping foods into individual portions and freezing it in ½-cup, 1 cup, and 2 cup portions means you can have homemade Vitamin B12-packed meals ready in minutes. 

      If you're new to freezer meal prep, check out this Ultimate Guide to Freezer Meal Prep. It has everything you need to know from what you can freeze, how to freeze, and how to defrost your food. 

      Freezer-Friendly Recipes with Vitamin B12 

      The best way to make sure you're getting the Vitamin B12 you need is by eating foods that are naturally high in Vitamin B12. To help, we've compiled a list of our favorite recipes with Vitamin B12 that you can make in batches and freeze. By having a freezer full of delicious food that also happens to be high in Vitamin B12, you'll be getting your daily dose without having to take a pill or get a B12 shot. 

      New England Clam Chowder - 9 mcg Vitamin B12 per 1 cup

      New England clam chowder

      (recipe and photo: 

      Contrary to what some will say, creamy soups, like this New England Clam Chowder, can freeze and reheat beautifully. If you're watching your sodium, check the nutrition label on the clam juice carefully because the amount of sodium can vary dramatically between brands. 

      How to Freeze: freeze the soup in 1 cup or 2 cup portions.

      How to Reheat: place a frozen soup cube in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat on High in 1 minute intervals, stirring occasionally, until hot. Or place a frozen cube in a small pot and add a splash of water. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.

      Seafood Chowder Casserole - 2 mcg Vitamin B12 per 1 cup serving

      seafood chowder casserole

      (recipe and photo: 

      This Seafood Chowder Casserole is a mix between clam chowder and a casserole is delicious thanks to multiple types of fish and the crispy breadcrumb topping. When freezing, you can skip the topping and opt for adding it at the end of baking if you like it to be extra crispy. 

      How to Freeze: prepare the casserole through Step 4 and freeze in 1 cup or 2 cup portions. 

      How to Reheat: place a frozen casserole cube in a microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of water. Cook in the microwave on high in 1 minute intervals until hot. Or place the casserole in the Souper Cubes baking dish, or other broiler-safe dish (not glass) and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350F until hot, about 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Continue baking until the cheese is melted and the topping is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

      American Goulash - 2.58mcg Vitamin B12 per 112 cup serving

      American goulash

      Traditional Hungarian goulash cooks slowly and includes stew beef, potatoes, root vegetables, and a generous amount of paprika. American Goulash, on the other hand, cooks quickly thanks to ground beef, noodles and (generally) canned tomatoes. Both are great options for getting your Vitamin B12 but we opted for this recipe because it's ready in 30 minutes. Make a double batch to freeze. 

      How to Freeze: freeze the goulash in 1 cup or 2 cup portions.

      How to Defrost: place a frozen goulash cube in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat on High in 1 minute intervals, stirring occasionally, until hot. Or place a frozen cube in a small pot and add a splash of water. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Additionally, you can place the goulash in the Souper Cubes baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350F until hot, about 30 minutes. 

      Easy Scallion-Smoked Salmon Dip - 0.5mcg Vitamin B12 per 2 Tbsp

      smoked salmon dip

      (recipe and photo: 

      This salmon dip uses cooked salmon, not smoked salmon, so is a perfect way to use up any salmon leftovers. Serve the dip as an appetizer or use it as a spread for a bagel, or on a sandwich like tuna salad.  

      How to Freeze: freeze the dip in ½-cup, 1 cup, or 2 cup portions.

      How to Defrost: the night before serving, place the dip in a bowl in the fridge to thaw. 

      Smoky Cauliflower Egg Frittata - 1mcg Vitamin B12 per serving 

      smoky cauliflower egg frittata 

      (recipe and photo: 

      This cauliflower frittata has a secret protein ingredient: smoky tempeh. Along with eggs and cheese, the frittata comes in at almost half of your daily requirement for Vitamin B12. Swap the sheet pan so you can bake and freeze in your 1 or 2 cup Souper Cubes. For more info on making frittatas in Souper Cubes, check out this recipe

      How to Freeze: bake the frittata in 1 cup or 2 cup Souper Cubes trays. Let cool completely then pop out and transfer to zip top bags. 

      How to Reheat: place the frozen frittata on a microwave-safe plate and cook in the microwave on high in 30 second intervals until hot. Or place the casserole in the Souper Cubes baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350F until hot, about 25 minutes. 

      We would love to hear your ideas or better yet, post a photo of your cubes organized in our Freezer Meals & Recipes Facebook Group!

      Souper Cubes frozen sauce
      Happy Freezing!

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