B vitamins are essential nutrients that play a role in many body functions. For example, they are necessary for immunity, energy, cellular health, metabolism, etc. This article will discuss B vitamins and the best natural sources of B vitamins.
What Are B Vitamins?
B vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play essential roles in cell metabolism and the synthesis of red blood cells. While B vitamins share a similar name, they are chemically unique compounds. However, they tend to often coexist in the same foods. Therefore, they have been grouped under "B vitamins."
There are 8 B vitamins in total:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (Folic acid)
B vitamins are essential in the body's process of obtaining energy from the food you eat. They also play a critical role in red blood cell formation. B vitamins have been shown to benefit many body functions and systems, including:
- Nervous system health
- Bone health
- Wound healing
- Cellular health
As crucial as B vitamins are for health, many people are not getting enough of them in their diet. This is because B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they are not stored in your fat but are utilized by the body and then eliminated. Because of this, they must be consumed in the right amounts daily. Those that are not intentional about their diets can easily miss out on their daily B vitamin needs.
This is why we recommend supplementing with a high-quality vitamin B complex and focusing on eating more food sources of B vitamins. Below, we'll discuss the best sources of B vitamins in food and how you can get more B vitamins in your diet.
What Are Good Sources of B Vitamins in Food?
There are many good sources of B vitamins. While many B vitamin foods are animal foods, there are vegan sources of B vitamins that we will also discuss.
Below are the best sources of B vitamins in food:
The top food sources of B vitamins are animal foods. They contain the highest B vitamin content of all foods and are the easiest way to obtain sufficient B vitamins in your diet. Among the animal sources of B vitamins, organ meats are the highest. For example, a 3.5-ounce serving of beef liver contains 201% of the RDI of vitamin B2, 138% of the RDI of vitamin B7 and an impressive 1,386% of the RDI of vitamin B12. It also contains modest amounts of B3, B5, B6, and B9.
Beef, chicken, and turkey are also excellent sources of B vitamins—though they do not compare to the nutrient density of organ meats.
Fish and seafood also provide notable amounts of B vitamins. Salmon, in particular, is one of the best sources of B group vitamins. A 3.5 ounce serving of salmon contains more than half your RDI of B3 and B12. It is also high in B1, B2, B5 and B6.
Other fish are also high in B vitamins, as are other types of sea foods like oysters, clams, and mussels. These shellfish are excellent sources of vitamin B12, with a 3.5-ounce serving of oysters providing 480% of the RDI, clams providing 1,648% of the RDI, and mussels providing 400% of the RDI.
Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in blood cell and DNA formation and the function and development of brain and nerve cells.
Eggs are another excellent source of B vitamins. They are particularly rich in vitamin B7 (biotin). One large egg contains 15% of the RDI of vitamin B2, 7% of the RDI of vitamin B5, vitamin 33% of the RDI of B7, 5% of the RDI of B9 and 9% of the RDI of B12.
Eggs are also a great source of choline, a nutrient similar to B vitamins that plays a significant role in brain and nervous system health, particularly mood, memory, muscle control, and nerve function. For example, one cooked egg contains 27% of the RDI of choline.
4. Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is a pellet of field-gathered flower pollen packed and made by worker honeybees. It is used as the primary food source for the hive. It is rich in amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial compounds. Bee pollen is also a great source of B vitamins.
Bee pollen contains all 8 B vitamins. Exactly how much of each vitamin it contains varies, however, depending on the types of flower pollen that are gathered by the bees.
Dairy products can also provide a good amount of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B2 (riboflavin). One 8-ounce cup of milk provides 7% of the RDI of vitamin B1, 26% of the RDI of B2, 9% of the RDI of B5 and 18% of the RDI of B12. The good thing about the B vitamins in dairy, especially in raw milk, is that they have high absorption rates, making milk an excellent bioavailable source of B vitamins.
Legumes are one of the best plant-based food sources of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B9 (folic acid). Some of the legumes with the highest B vitamin content include:
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Green peas
7. Brown Rice
Another good vegan source of B vitamins, brown rice contains vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6. Brown rice is also rich in other essential nutrients, such as amino acids, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
Avocados are a superfood, rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Just one medium-sized avocado provides:
- 40% of the RDI of vitamin B2
- 44% of the RDI of vitamin B3
- 112% of the RDI of vitamin B5
- 60% of the RDI of vitamin B6
- 82% of the RDI of vitamin B9
Aside from providing these essential B vitamins, avocados are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C, E, and K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper.
9. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are a good source of vitamin B9 (folate) but do not provide many other B vitamins. However, each type of leafy green will provide different nutrients. The leafy greens with the most vitamin B9 content are spinach, collard greens, romaine lettuce, and turnip greens, with 3 cups of raw spinach providing 41% of the RDI of vitamin B9.
10. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is rich in nutrients. It is among the best sources of B vitamins for vegans. It naturally contains B vitamins but is often fortified with more B vitamins as well. 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast provides:
- 320% of the RDI of vitamin B1
- 285% of the RDI of vitamin B2
- 140% of the RDI of vitamin B3
- 5% of the RDI of vitamin B5
- 240% of the RDI of vitamin B6
- 30% of the RDI of vitamin B9
- 65% of the RDI of vitamin B12
Getting B Vitamins in Your Diet Daily
As mentioned, B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning the body uses them as consumed and passes what it doesn't need. In addition, these vitamins are not stored in fat like the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. As a result, we must consume B vitamins daily to meet the recommended daily requirements that our body needs.
This isn't always easy and requires one to be on top of their nutrition. As you may have noticed, getting enough B vitamins in the diet is especially challenging for vegans, and B vitamins tend to be the group of nutrients in which vegans are most commonly deficient.
Unless you are eating beef liver, fish, or nutritional yeast every day, likely, you are not meeting your body's B vitamin needs each day either.
Because B vitamins are a nutrient group that is vital to proper health and functioning and are also a nutrient group that many people are deficient in, we have created a one-of-a-kind Coenzyme B Complex formula that not only provides the RDI of B vitamins in just two capsules but also provides other necessary B vitamin-like nutrients like choline.
Taking two capsules of this B vitamin complex each morning is a quick and easy way to ensure that you meet your body's B vitamin needs daily. Plus, they contain no additional fillers, preservatives, or toxic ingredients. They are also highly absorbable, unlike many other B vitamins on the market.
B vitamins are essential nutrients that play vital roles in nerve functioning, cellular health, red blood cell production, and much more. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you consume enough B vitamins each day for optimal health, whether through whole foods, supplements, or a combination of both.