Aside from supplements and fortified products, animal-based foods -- including your favorite type of yogurt -- are the main ways to get vitamin B-12 in your diet. You won’t get B-12 from very many plant sources. While yogurt can help you get close to meeting your B-12 requirement, opt for low-fat or nonfat varieties so you don’t have to stress about ruining your waistline.
Why You Need It
Vitamin B-12 is one of several B vitamins that keep your metabolism going. It helps your body pull fats and proteins from the foods you eat, allowing your system to use them as quickly as possible. Vitamin B-12 even has a role in creating new red blood cells, making genetic material in cells, forming hormones and synthesizing enzymes that your body requires for all kinds of daily biochemical reactions.
How Much You Should Get
You only need a tiny amount of B-12 each day -- 2.4 micrograms to be exact. But if you’re thinking about expanding your family or are currently pregnant, you’ll have to increase your intake to 2.6 micrograms per day. The only other time you’ll need a bit more is if you’re nursing your little one after delivery. In this case, you’ll need 2.8 micrograms each day, according to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine.
Amount in Yogurt
Food manufacturers add powdered milk to nonfat types of dairy and replace some of the lost nutrients. So generally the lower the fat content of the yogurt, the more B-12 you’ll get. You can have about half of your entire day’s worth of B-12 -- 1.4 micrograms -- from just 1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt. Low-fat plain yogurt has slightly less at 1.3 micrograms per cup. If you tend to get the fruity containers of low-fat yogurt, you’ll get closer to 1 microgram of B-12 from 1 cup. Whole-milk yogurt has the least amount of B-12. One cup of plain, regular yogurt offers a measly 0.8 microgram of B-12, just 60 percent of the B-12 you’d get from the nonfat variety.
If you’re goal is to get as much B-12 from your favorite breakfast food as possible, you can include a few foods with yogurt to quickly boost your B-12 intake. Stir in 2 tablespoons of nutritional brewer’s yeast to sneak in an extra 0.3 microgram of the vitamin. Or make yourself a yogurt parfait with granola. Low-fat granola gives you just a touch more B-12 -- 0.1 microgram from 1 cup. Of course you can always have a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal on the side too. Some varieties of complete flakes, whole-grain or bran-based cereals have as much as 6 micrograms of B-12 from one single serving.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.