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Dairy Sources of Vitamin B-12

By Carol Luther

Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include constipation, weight loss, anemia, dementia and numbness in the fingers. In infants and children, a deficiency results in delayed development and more serious problems, including impaired motor skills. The main forms of vitamin B12 that affect your health are methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin. Both contain the mineral cobalt. The U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements notes that your body needs a daily supply of Vitamin B12—cobalamins—to synthesize DNA, create red blood cells and regulate your nervous system. Dairy products offer options for including vitamin B12 in your daily diet.

Recommended Adequate Intake

The Office of Dietary Supplements' Recommended Dietary Allowance chart for B12 daily intake recommends 2.4mcg vitamin B-12 for adults and children older than 14. This amount provides 97 to 98 percent of your daily B-12 requirements. ODS increases this amount to 2.6mcg for pregnant women and 2.8mcg for lactating women. Children ages 9 to 13 need 1.8mcg; ages 4 to 8 require 1.2mcg. ODS recommends 0.4mcg for infants younger than 6 months; 0.5mcg at 7 months and 0.9mcg for children between age 1 and 3.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration uses 6 mcg as the vitamin B-12 daily value for individual servings of food. However, the FDA only requires that manufacturers list vitamin B-12 content on the labels of fortified foods.


The Office of Dietary Supplements states that a 1-cup serving of plain yogurt provides 25 percent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's daily value for vitamin B-12. With a content of 1.4 mcg, yogurt exceeds the 20 percent threshold that the FDA uses to rate foods as high nutrient sources.


A 1 cup serving of canned, sweetened condensed milk provides 1.35 mcg of B-12. This is the highest value for milk products listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chart of vitamin B12 sources. Vitamin A and D fortified 2 percent has 1.29mcg per 8 oz. serving. Nonfat milk provides 1.23mcg; fortified 1 percent milk provides 1.15mcg. Whole milk, fortified with vitamin D, has 1.10mcg.


Low-fat cottage cheese—1 percent—has 1.42mcg per 1 cup serving, while 2 percent provides 1.02mcg. A 1 oz. serving of Swiss cheese has 0.95mcg and 1 cup of whole milk ricotta has 0.84mcg. An average size camembert wedge—38g—provides 0.49 mcg. The 1 oz. serving of whole milk mozzarella has 0.65mcg, feta 0.48 and Muenster has 0.42mcg.

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