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vitamin b: what it is and why you need it

Did you know that there are eight different B vitamins, and all of them play an essential role in keeping your body healthy? B vitamins help convert food into energy, keep your nervous system working well, and support cell growth. Pregnant women and people who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet must take particular care to consume enough vitamin B. So, if you’re looking to boost your health, make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins! In this post, we’ll explain what each of the eight B vitamins does and how you can ensure you get enough of them.


B-complex vitamins & B-rich foods:


  • B1 (thiamine): Thiamine plays an essential role in metabolism by helping convert nutrients into energy. The richest food sources include pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germs.
  • B2 (riboflavin): Riboflavin helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant. Foods highest in riboflavin include organ meats, beef and mushrooms.
  • B3 (niacin): Niacin plays a role in cellular signaling, metabolism and DNA production and repair. Food sources include chicken, tuna and lentils.
  • B5 (pantothenic acid): Like other B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps your body obtain energy from food and is also involved in hormone and cholesterol production. Liver, fish, yogurt and avocado are all good sources.
  • B6 (pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production and the creation of neurotransmitters. Foods highest in this vitamin include chickpeas, salmon poultry, potatoes, and non-citrus fruits.
  • B7 (biotin): Biotin is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism and regulates gene expression. Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese and liver are among the best food sources of biotin.
  • B9 (folate or ‘folic acid’ when included in supplements): Folate is needed for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, the formation of red and white blood cells and proper cell division. It can be found in foods like leafy greens, liver, beans, citrus fruits or in supplements as folic acid.
  • B12 (cobalamin or ‘cyanocobalamin’ when included in supplements): Perhaps the most well-known of all the B vitamins, B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production and red blood cell development. B12 is found naturally in animal sources like meats, eggs, seafood and dairy.


To increase the amount of B-vitamins in your diet, eat more of foods that contain:


Animal foods:

  • Beef, liver, and chicken.
  • Fish and shellfish such as trout, salmon, tuna fish, sardines, and clams.
  • Fortified breakfast cereal.
  • Low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, and cheese.
  • Eggs


Non-animal foods:

  • Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Chili peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Alfalfa
  • Fortified Cereal
  • Tempeh
  • Nutritional and brewer’s Yeast
  • Avocado

Fermented foods:

Gut bacteria synthesize and supply some of the B vitamins, so if you are not eating fermented foods, take a good probiotic daily.

  • Yogurt
  • Cultured Cottage Cheese
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha


As you can see, B vitamins are essential for a healthy and balanced life. It is important to know which type of B vitamin you may need based on your lifestyle, dietary needs, and goals in order to get the most benefit from them. Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. And as always, stay vitamin B sufficient!

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