Your body needs vitamin B-12 to produce red blood cells, synthesize DNA and maintain proper neurological function and a healthy central nervous system. Insufficient B-12 intake or absorption can cause vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia, or a lack of healthy red blood cells. Milk and other animal products provide good dietary sources of vitamin B-12.
B-12 in Skim Milk
Skim milk, a nonfat alternative to other milks, provides a good source of vitamin B-12. A 1-cup serving of skim milk provides 1.23 micrograms of vitamin B-12. This amount provides 20.5 percent of the FDA’s recommended Daily Value, or DV, of 6.0 micrograms of vitamin B-12.
Skim milk provides slightly more vitamin B-12 than whole milk and reduced-fat milk. A 1-cup serving of 1 percent milk provides 1.15 micrograms of vitamin B-12, and a 1-cup serving of whole milk provides only 1.10 micrograms. The B-12 in 1 percent milk and whole milk provides 19.2 and 18.3 percent, respectively, of the recommended DV for this vitamin.
Other B-12 Food Sources
If you can not drink milk for a particular reason, there are other excellent food sources of vitamin B-12, including clams with 84.06 micrograms per serving, beef liver with 70.66 micrograms per serving, turkey with 48.21 micrograms per serving and oysters with 16.35 micrograms per serving. Other good sources of B-12 include chicken, crab, salmon, sardines, trout and fortified breakfast cereals. If you are vegan, you can get vitamin B-12 from dietary supplements, yeasts or fortified foods. According to McKinley Health Center, the B-12 in fortified foods is made with the B-12 bacteria and not animal products.
B-12 Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B-12 deficiency, or a lack of healthy red blood cells, can lead to megaloblastic anemia with symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, weight loss, constipation, sore tongue, pale skin, reduced appetite and difficulty concentrating. Severe or prolonged B-12 deficiency may lead to neurological symptoms such as depression, confusion, loss of balance, memory problems and dementia. Prolonged B-12 deficiency can also cause nerve damage with symptoms such as tingling and numbness in hands and feet. Consult your doctor if you suspect you have vitamin B-12 deficiency. You may have an underlying health condition that hinders your body’s ability to absorb B-12 from food.