Vitamin B and your diet
Vitamin B is essential to our wellbeing, and as our bodies cannot make it on its own, we must get it from the food we eat.
That’s why having a well balanced, nutritious diet is vital for our bodies to function properly.
‘Vitamin B’ actually refers to more than one vitamin, since there are eight different B vitamins in total that together make up the ‘vitamin B complex’.
These eight B vitamins have similar roles and chemical properties, although each has unique functions, including:
releasing energy from food;
maintaining a healthy metabolism;
keeping your heart and nervous system healthy;
helping cells to multiply by making new DNA;
making red blood cells;
keeping our skin and eyes healthy; and
foetal growth/development during pregnancy.
You’re more prone to vitamin B deficiency if you’re a vegan/vegetarian; an elderly adult; someone who lacks stomach acid; are pregnant; have dealt with alcoholism; have anaemia; or you struggle with a digestive disorder, like celiac or Crohn’s disease, that impairs nutrient absorption.
If that’s you, you may benefit from taking a B complex supplement, food-based multivitamin, or a high dose of one or more B vitamins. It’s important to talk to a health professional if you’re worried about your vitamin B levels.
Vitamin B-rich foods
Our bodies use vitamin B throughout the day, and we cannot store extra vitamin B that we’ve eaten, so we must replenish our supply often by eating vitamin B-rich foods.
Although B-group vitamins are found in many foods, they are water soluble and delicate. They are easily destroyed, particularly by alcohol and cooking. Food processing can also reduce the amount of B-group vitamins in foods, making white flours, breads and rice less nutritious than their wholegrain counterparts.
Many whole foods are excellent sources of B vitamins — such as vegetables, meat, eggs, fish, beans and 100% whole grain products. Here are some key foods rich in B vitamins that you should add into your diet:
Leafy green vegetables
Organ meats (eg. liver or kidneys)
Wild-caught fish (eg. salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines)
Pastured chicken and turkey
Wholegrain breads and cereals
Dairy products (eg. yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese)
Nuts and seeds (eg. sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts)
Beans, legumes and peas
It’s essential to up your vitamin B intake to prevent health problems, such as chronic fatigue, anaemia, mood disorders, weakness, poor memory and more.