Foods Rich with Vitamin B
Meta: Are you getting enough vitamin B? We have the complete list of vitamin B rich foods—and dinner ideas—right here.
Vitamin B is a group of vitamins that play a vital role in your metabolism. These energy-giving vitamins are easy to find in nature, and most of us get all the vitamin B we need in our daily diets. In truth, you don’t need too much of some of the vitamins to function. The bacteria in your gut even makes Vitamin B7 for you!
A healthy diet filled with whole grains, lean proteins, and leafy green vegetables provides you with the nutrients you need to derive energy from your calories. However, a lack of some types of Vitamin B, like Vitamin B12 or folic acid, lead to health issues like vitamin deficiency anemia.
Do you know where to find each of the eight vitamins? We break them down one-by-one so you can pack the most nutritious punch from your meals.
Why Love Vitamin B?
The Vitamin B family of nutrients sustains life by participating in your body’s metabolic processes.
The metabolism is the function that processes the food you eat and converts it into energy. Metabolic processes keep your heart pumping, legs moving, and brain thinking. Getting the B vitamins you need keeps your body functioning the way you should and prevents diseases like anemia, which leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
The Complete List of B Vitamins
B vitamins aren’t a single nutrient but an umbrella of substances your cells use to run your body’s metabolism. The full family of B vitamins includes:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B7 (biotin)
- Folic acid
Missing out on some of these vitamins causes problems. For example, failing to get enough B6 or B12 results in anemia. Scientists also believe they found a link between B12 deficiency and depression.
Our Favorite Foods Rich with Vitamin B
With a total of eight B vitamins, you might wonder how to make sure you get everything you need in one place.
You’ll find eight B vitamins in the following general food categories:
- Meat and eggs
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
- Dark green, leafy vegetables
- Seeds and nuts
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Thiamin encourages a healthy nervous system and plays a role in metabolic processes, which break down and release the energy from food.
Short on thiamin? You should already have what you need from your daily diet. Thiamin exists naturally in foods like:
- Fruit (fresh and dried)
- Whole grain bread
- Fortified breakfast cereals.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Riboflavin also contributes to your metabolism in addition to helping you keep your eyes, skin, and nervous system health.
You’ll find plenty of riboflavin in common foods like:
- Dairy milk
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Like Vitamin B1, most people find enough Vitamin B2 in their daily diet.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Niacin comes in the form of nicotinamide or nicotinic acid, and you’ll find both in common foodstuffs. It’s easy to get all the niacin you need from your daily diet because good sources include:
- Wheat flour
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps your body form hemoglobin, which creates essential red blood cells. It also helps the body store or use the energy derived from macronutrients like carbohydrates and protein in your food. Where can you find excellent sources of vitamin B6? Try these foods:
- Cereals (whole grain)
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
You need a tiny amount of biotin, which helps your body break down fat. Your body finds a source of biotin in your bowel where the healthy bacteria in your gut create it for you.
Biotin only exists in minuscule doses in food, but most of the foods listed above have it.
Folic acid contributes to a healthy red blood cell count and prevents folate deficiency anemia. Expectant mothers should make sure to get their daily dose of folic acid because it reduces the risk of issues like spina bifida in unborn babies.
You’ll find folic acid in all things green:
- Brussel sprouts
It also exists in chickpeas and fortified breakfast cereals. Liver also offers plenty of folic acid, but pregnant women should avoid it if possible.
Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should consider increasing their folic acid intake either naturally or with a 400mcg supplement until you reach twelve weeks along. Women with a family history of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida should consult their doctors about potentially taking a more substantial supplement.
Vitamin B12 works with your body to use folic acid in the making of red blood cells. Like other B vitamins, it also works with your metabolism and keeping your metabolism healthy.
Like folic acid, a lack of vitamin B12 leads to anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency anemia).
Where will you find good sources of B12? Simple, scout it out in:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Vegans need to take extra care in monitoring their vitamin B12 levels. Vitamin B12 is common in nature, but it doesn’t occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, or grains. Some who adhere to the vegan diet may need a supplement to help them steer clear of vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
Delicious Meals Packed with Vitamin B
If you’re like us, a list of foods doesn’t make a meal. So, we scoured the internet to come up with a few simple meals to help you make the most of your B-vitamins.
Getting vitamin B in the morning means slowing down and enjoying a proper breakfast. Toaster strudels need not apply
If you’re serious about getting your vitamin B in right away in the morning, whip up some scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on whole grain toast. Salmon is the single best way to get in the most of each B vitamin in a single dish: you get B1, B3, B5, B6, and B12 in every bite.
Need something super simple? Look out for a fortified breakfast cereal. High-quality cereals often pick up the slack if the rest of your diet is less than stellar.
A big colorful salad is a pick-me-up your body needs, so indulge it. Flip through your favorite B vitamin foods and toss them into a bowl with a simple dressing. Don’t be afraid to add non-traditional salad items like Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes for extra nutrition and a healthy dose of B6 and B9.
Need some simple dinner ideas?
White wine mussels is an easy recipe that requires a single pan and ingredients you already have at home. Mussels boast plenty of B2 as well as B12.
Try a root vegetable stew and switch out your meat for red lentils which offer plenty of protein as well as B1, B5, B6, and B9. Your root vegetables are also a good source of fiber and B6 and B9.
The chickpeas in hummus pack a punch and make hummus a perfect snack. Kick it up a notch and enjoy a beet hummus to get the protein, fiber, and vitamin B plus all the antioxidants from beets.
Recommended Daily Dose of Vitamin B
Aim for the following recommended daily doses of each vitamin B nutrient:
- Folic Acid: 400 micrograms
- B3: 16 mg (men), 14 mg (women)
- B6 : 1.3 mg (men 19-50 years old), 1.7 mg (men 51 plus), 1.3 mg (women 19-50), 1.5 mg (women 51 plus)
- B12: 2.4 mg (men), 2.4 mg (women)
Worried about your vitamin B intake?
Nutritionists say 97 to 98 percent of the population gets most of the B vitamins they need in their daily diet without going out of their way to find them.
The role of supplements is a tricky one among the B vitamins, and you likely don’t need a vitamin supplement unless your doctor suggests one.
Vitamin B is water soluble, so your body doesn’t store it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t upset your vitamin B levels.
Whenever you consider supplements, remember that you can get too much vitamin B.
Be Careful with Vitamin B-12
When your body receives more vitamin B-12 then it needs, you might experience uncomfortable side effects like:
- High blood pressure
- Increased red blood cell count
- Skin issues (acne, rashes, itchy skin, discolored skin, facial flushing)
- Urine discoloration
- Trouble swallowing
Some people should use vitamin B-12 cautiously even when instructed by their doctor to use a supplement. Those with the following conditions should only use supplements according to a physician’s instructions:
- Heart conditions or concerns
- High blood pressure
- Blood disorders
- Skin disorders
- History of cancer
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Genitourinary issues
Meet Your Energy Needs
The B vitamins help your body break down the food you eat and transform it into delicious energy. Getting your vitamin B couldn’t be simpler. One or more of these vitamins lies in most of our everyday foods. You can be extra sure you got enough by indulging in foods like salmon, eggs, Brussels sprouts, and chickpeas.
Do you have any go-to vitamin B sources? Share them in the comments below.