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We all know that good nutrition is linked to good health. Vitamins are a vital part of the equation and B vitamins are essential for preventative care (1). They can aid in promoting a healthy metabolism (1) and are also linked to reducing the risk of stroke (1) (2) (3).

What are B Vitamins?

Vitamin B complex comprises eight B vitamins. These include Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) (4), B-2 (riboflavin) (5), B-3 (niacin) (6), B-5 (pantothenic

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acid) (7), B-6 (pyridoxine) (8), B-7 (biotin) (9),  B-9 (folate or *folic acid)  (10) and B-12 (cobalamin) (11). They are key to a healthy body and regulate energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism (12). 

What are the signs of a deficiency?

If you enjoy a varied and balanced diet, it is unlikely that you’ll be vitamin B deficient. Of all the B vitamin deficiencies, B-12 deficiency is the most common. 

According to Jennifer Brown (Ph.D.) for Everyday Health (1) symptoms of a B-12 deficiency include:

  • Anemia (Iron deficiency)
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Fatigue
  • Intestinal problems
  • Mood disturbances 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Poor memory 
  • Soreness of the mouth and/or tongue

People who experience this deficiency often experience depression, anxiety, and mood swings(1). Folate (also known as vitamin B-9 or *folic acid) is at the forefront of mood management(1). Findings have shown that many people who battle depression have a lower level of folate present in their blood (1) (12) (13).

Why are they good for me?

B vitamins are key for a healthy body and have a direct impact on your health, energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism (12). Cell metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms in order to maintain life (13).

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What foods contain them?

If you’re looking to regulate and possibly improve your mood. Folate (vitamin B-9 or *folic acid) is found in: green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, peanuts, and other legumes, and citrus fruits (1).

Foods that contain high levels of vitamin B are

Fish

Specifically, salmon is low in mercury as well as being a great source. Salmon is high in riboflavin, niacin, B6, and B12 (14).It’s also a good source of vitamin B-1 (thiamine) and vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) (14). 

Leafy greens

They have a high B-9 (folate) content. The highest sources of folate are spinach (raw or cooked), collard greens,  turnip greens, and romaine lettuce (14). Unfortunately, some of the folate is destroyed during the cooking process (14). This can be lost in the water when boiling. The best course of action is to steam them until they are partway between tender and crisp (15).

Liver and organ meats

Liver and organ meats are admittedly, not particularly popular. However, they contain loads of vitamin B. If you are a meat eater and can stomach liver, this could be a great way to supplement your  intake (14). 

Eggs

According to Healthline (14) one large egg contains 33% of the RDI for biotin. This is spread equally between the yolk and the white. So, in order to get as much biotin as possible, it’s best to eat the whole egg. Be aware that raw egg whites contain avidin which is a protein that prevents the absorption of biotin into the body. Eggs also contain small amounts of other B vitamins including B-2, B-5, b-7, B-9, and B-12 (14). 

Milk

Just 8oz or. 240 ml of milk provides 26% of the RDI for riboflavin (14). Milk and other dairy products are usually the top sources of riboflavin (B-2) in people’s diets (16).  This is followed by meat and grains (16). Milk is also a great source of cobalamin (B-12) (14). B-12 is also absorbed most efficiently through the milk and dairy products. Studies have shown absorption rates of 51–79% (14). 

Beef

All meat is a good source for vitamin B,  but studies have shown that beef is best (14). Overall, meat and associated products are the main sources of thiamine, niacin, and pyridoxine (14) (17). Beef specifically though, boasts very high levels of B3, B6, and B12. A 3.5 oz or 100g serving provides about a third of the RDI for each of these vitamins (14). 

Oysters, Clams, and Mussels

These are a great source of both vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) and B-2 (riboflavin). In fact, oysters, clams, and mussels each contain at least four times the RDI for vitamin B12 per serving (14) (18). 

What are the benefits of adding more into my diet?

Having good levels of B vitamins is great for your body. Maintaining proper levels of folate (B-9 or folic acid) can help to improve mood and reduce mood swings. This is a great one to increase if you battle with PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). Making sure that you eat a balanced diet whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or a meat-eater is vital when it comes to maintaining  levels. Increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables is always a good idea. Just make sure not to overcook them. If you can stomach oysters, mussels, clams and/or liver, it’s a fabulous source of B vitamins. It’s also worth noting that you’re **unlikely to get too much  in your diet. B vitamins are water-soluble and so any excess will be excreted through your urine (14). 

 

*Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate which is found in supplements and fortified foods (1)

**Please see your doctor if any of the following symptoms develop. This could mean you have overdosed on vitamin B complex: excessive thirst, skin conditions, blurry vision, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, increased urination, diarrhea, or skin flushing (14). 

References:

  1. https://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/surprising-health-benefits-b-vitamins/
  2. https://www.everydayhealth.com/stroke/guide/symptoms/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-watch-b1-thiamine
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-watch-what-does-b2-do
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-watch-what-does-b5-do
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219662
  9. https://www.healthline.com/health/the-benefits-of-biotin#1
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/folic-acid-vs-folate
  11. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219822
  12. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/vitamin-b-complex
  13. https://www.tocris.com/cell-biology/cell-metabolism
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21432271/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29966236/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29966236/
  18. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4253/2
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Katie Hart

Katie Hart is a successful beauty and fashion blogger who is currently studying a BA in Fashion Media at LISOF. Her hobbies include styling, reading, true crime podcasts and singing. She is a lover of all things fashion, but is happiest when sitting with her mini Maltese, Aria.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.