Technically, there is not just one type of vitamin B. Instead, there is a list of B vitamins that form a vitamin B complex. It’s necessary to have all the B vitamins in your diet to lead a healthy lifestyle. That means incorporating:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate)
- B12 (cobalamin)
While some people choose supplements, it’s possible to get all these vitamins from food sources. Vitamin B foods are abundant, which is good news for those who have a healthy, balanced diet.
Each B vitamin contributes something helpful to the body. So, consuming the entire B vitamin complex can have many health benefits and may affect energy levels, eyesight, brain function, digestion, appetite, and more. B vitamins are especially important for pregnant women.
Let’s investigate some of the best foods to eat if you need more B vitamins.
Foods High in Vitamin B
Vitamin B-rich foods can be found in almost every food group. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin B are covered below, but here are some other categories to try.
Eggs and Dairy
Eggs are loaded with B-vitamins, with two eggs providing 10% of the recommended intake for B6. The yolk also contains biotin, offering 33% of the daily value (DV). They also have 25% of the DV of B12. This isn’t as high as meat, but it’s still a decent amount.
It’s possible to boost this content by making scrambled eggs mixed with low-fat milk. After all, milk possesses 5% of the DV for B6 and 50% of the DV for B12.
Similarly, certain cheeses are full of B vitamins. This includes ricotta, packed with riboflavin, folate, and niacin. Other cheeses can also be a good source, but ricotta is the highest in whey, which is packed full of B complex vitamins.
Liver and Kidney
Liver may not be the most appealing food, but it’s nutritious in terms of B vitamins. Chicken liver, for example, is high in B6, B12, and B9, and it also contains protein and vitamin A. Meanwhile, beef liver is high in B12.
For biotin (B7), a 75g serving of chicken liver provides 460% of the DV. If you are not a fan of liver, try sauteeing it and serving with onions, or mince it into a burger patty.
Beef and chicken are both fantastic sources of B vitamins. Grass-fed beef is less fatty, so it’s healthier, and it contains plenty of vitamin B6 and B12. Chicken breast, meanwhile, is high in B12 and niacin, which may help to lower cholesterol.
Consuming lots of meat all the time is unlikely to be healthy but incorporating some into the diet can be really beneficial in terms of B vitamins.
While consuming lots of meat all the time is unlikely to be healthy due to the fat content, incorporating some meat into the diet can be really beneficial in terms of B vitamins. B12, for example, is harder to source from other foods, especially in a vegetarian diet.
Plenty of fish is high in B complex vitamins. Salmon and tuna are two excellent choices. For example, tuna is high in B6, with the most significant amount found in tuna steak and a still hefty amount in canned varieties.
Other species, including trout and mackerel, are also high in B vitamins. Opt for oily fish that provides fatty acids for a nutritional powerhouse.
Shellfish are nutritionally excellent, containing iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
Oysters are one of the best choices, considering that 3oz contain 100% of the DV for zinc, alongside plenty of B complex vitamins.
Whole Grains and Cereals
Many breakfast cereals are fortified with B vitamins, making them a great source to start your day with. They contain lots of B12, and since many are vegan-friendly, they are available to those on a meatless diet.
The grains in cereals are also easy to digest, which is part of what makes them so healthy.
Beans & Legumes
Peanuts (technically a legume) are a rich source of biotin. Just 1oz of peanuts contains 17% of the daily value. They are also versatile. Try spreading peanut butter on toast for breakfast as an easy way to work them into your diet.
Black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are also good sources of B vitamins.
Soy milk, soybeans, and products like tempeh are all excellent B vitamin sources for vegans and vegetarians. There is approximately 64% of the DV of biotin in ¾ cup of soybeans, which spells good news for edamame lovers.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also a fantastic source of biotin. ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, for example, contains 10% of the DV; meanwhile, ¼ cup of roasted almonds includes 5%.
It’s easy to work them into the diet via snacking, but they can also be added to salads, stir-fries, and smoothies.
Vegetables High in Vitamin B
Many vegetables are high in vitamin B. This includes carrots, which contain as much B6 as a glass of cow’s milk. Spinach is also packed with B6 alongside plenty of iron, while sweet potatoes have pyridoxine alongside fiber.
Other vegetables with vitamin B include green peas, shiitake mushroom, and broccoli. Specifically, shiitake contains 100% of the DV for B12 in about 50g.
Fruits High in Vitamin B
Fewer fruits are high in B vitamins, but there are a couple. B12 is lacking in fruits altogether, which is why consumers must eat a balanced diet in order to access the entire B complex.
B12 is lacking in fruits altogether, which is why consumers must eat a balanced diet in order to access the entire B complex.
Vitamin B-rich fruits include bananas, which are full of B6. Since B6 can help to create serotonin and norepinephrine, think of bananas as a happy fruit.
Avocado, meanwhile, is a good source of folate and biotin. One avocado contains about 6% of the DV for biotin.
Apart from these two, citrus fruits are a fairly good source of B vitamins.
Final Thoughts on Vitamin B Foods
It’s possible to get the entire B vitamin complex from food. There are plenty of vitamin B sources that come as part of a healthy, balanced diet without even needing to think about it.
However, some people are lacking in B vitamins; a doctor can help those struggling to work out if they have a deficiency. Risk factors for a deficiency include:
- Being over the age of 50
- Being pregnant
- Having some chronic health conditions
- Eating a vegetarian/vegan diet
In these instances, supplements may be necessary. That said, most people can access all the vitamins they need just from the food they eat.