There are 8 vitamins that comprise the entirety of the B Vitamin group: Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Cobalamin (B12), and Folic Acid (B9). The B vitamins are water-soluble, which means the body excretes through urine what it doesn’t use. That’s why they need to be replaced daily. B vitamins can be found in animal proteins, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and beans.
B vitamins help a variety of enzymes do their jobs, ranging from releasing energy from carbohydrates and fat, to breaking down amino acids and transporting oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body.
Immune cells have high metabolic activity and high rates of proliferation, thereby requiring vitamins B6 and B12 to form new immune cells and mount proper immune responses throughout the body. B6, B12 and folate also work together to convert homocysteine to methionine, an amino acid used in a significant number of essential cellular activities.
Vitamin B6 also helps convert food into usable energy and assists in the formation of neurotransmitters, red blood cells, proteins, and DNA. Vitamin B12, which is required for proper nerve function, also converts food into usable energy, and assists in the formation of red blood cells, proteins, and DNA.
Homocysteine is an amino acid that has been linked to various health issues with elevated levels. Supplementation with vitamins B6, B12, and Folic Acid may manage homocysteine levels while promoting optimal health. This study reports that long-term supplementation with folic acid may benefit cognitive function of healthy older people with high homocysteine levels. Other research indicates that Thiamin deficiency may lead to neurological problems, while a severe niacin deficiency has been associated with cognitive issues.
Leafy greens, especially spinach, collards, turnip greens, and romaine lettuce are among the best vegetable sources of Folate. They are best eaten raw for maximum absorption, though briefly steaming partway between tender and crisp will minimize folate loss.
Legumes and lentils are a rich source of B vitamins. Whether it’s black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, or any other bean you choose, you will be getting a healthy variety of B vitamins. Try some hummus for a healthy snack rich in Bs. And don’t forget the peanut. Despite having “nut” in its name, the peanut is a legume. Two tablespoons of peanut butter will provide 1.3 mg or 14% of an adult's RDA of vitamin B6.
Food fortification began in the 1930s in response to the public health crises resulting from vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin D was added to milk, then B to cereals and breads. This movement virtually eradicated rickets, goiter, beriberi, and pellagra. Currently, many processed, packaged cereals are fortified with vitamin B. The nutritional information is part of the package’s label, which you should read carefully. While they may claim health benefits from the fortification, they are often not quite as forthcoming with the fact that the cereal is high in refined carbs and sugar. Look for fortified cereals that are low in sugar and high in fiber as they are overall healthier choices.
Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Just 1 cup of avocado (think guacamole), contains more than 40% of the DV of B5, 30% of B9, 29% of B6, 16% of both B2 and B3, and 9% of B1. H3: Tofu
One cup of raw, firm tofu has 36% of the DV for B1, 20% for B2 and B9, and nearly 15% for B6. There are also fortified versions of tofu that are excellent sources of B12, vegetarians take note.
Beef is an excellent source of B12. A 4 ounce serving of steak contains more than 250% of the DV for beef, as well as smaller amounts of B2, B3, and B6. The lower the fat in the beef, the higher the concentration of B12 will be.
A juicy pork chop weighing in at about 4 ounces contains nearly 30% of the DV for vitamin B12, as well as B6 and Riboflavin.
Organ meats, including liver, kidney, tongue, heart, sweetbreads, brain, and tripe, are incredibly nutrient-dense and one of the strongest sources of B12, Folate, and, to a lesser degree, the remaining B vitamins. The organ meats are actually more nutritious than animal muscle meat.
Clams have the highest concentration of vitamin B12 than any other food, though 3 ounces of mussels or clams will provide 338% and 364% of the DV of B12 respectively.
Three ounces of trout will provide you with 90% of the DV of vitamin B12.
Three ounces of salmon will provide you with 80% of the DV of vitamin B12.
Yogurt can besource of both vitamins B2 and B12, though not all yogurt is equal in terms of healthy eating. Many brands with tasty flavors and added fruit have also added enough sugar to give it that dessert-like quality. Check the labels for sugar content and other additives.
Nothing beats a healthy, nutrient-dense diet rich in fresh fruits, whole grains, leafy greens, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, animal protein, legumes, and fortified grains and cereals to ensure that you are getting the maximum level of B vitamins for optimal health. But it is not always possible to get everything you need every day. B vitamins are not stored in the body and have to be replenished daily. In addition, not everyone eats everything needed to get all their B vitamins from food sources. Animal protein is one of the best overall sources of B vitamins, so vegetarians and vegans must be especially cognizant of their B intake. Sometimes a healthy diet of greens is not enough. The good news is that supplementation can help you compensate for anything you’re not getting in your diet.