Focus on Vitamins: The B group

The B Vitamins!

The B Vitamins are:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid or folate)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

This group of vitamins are important, as they help your body to make energy from the food you eat, support immune function and metabolism, maintain healthy skin, hair and muscle, as well as assisting with the formation of red blood cells. A deficiency in B6 and B12 can result in anaemia.

B vitamins are water-soluble. Any excess is excreted in the urine, so these vitamins need to be replenished regularly. B vitamins are delicate, and can be destroyed through cooking, alcohol and food processing.

Deficiency in any of these vitamins can cause a number of diseases, including beriberi, pellagra and anaemia, and symptoms can range from dermatitis, insomnia, and depression to weakness, emotional disturbances and mental confusion.

Below is a list of foods that are high in each of the B vitamins.

B1 Thiamine – Wholegrains and seeds

Include some wholegrains in your cereal at breakfast, or have wholegrain bread or crackers at lunch. Snacking on 60g of sunflower seeds during the day will get you your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake).

B2 Riboflavin – Dairy Products

Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all high in vitamin B2. Try to have 1-2 serves of dairy a day. 300mL of skim milk will get you your RDI. Alcohol limits the absorption of vitamin B2 so limit your alcohol intake or increase consumption of these foods when you do drink.

B3 Niacin – Protein sources (red meat, poultry, fish & nuts)

Most of us have a serve of meat each night for dinner, whether it be red meat, chicken or fish. 100g tin of tuna or a chicken breast will provide your RDI.

B5 Pantothenic acid – Broccoli

The best source of vitamin B5 comes from animal liver, but not many of us include this in our daily diet. Othe foods that we are more likely to eat regularly with large amounts of B5 include broccoli, sunflower seeds, mushrooms and wholegrains. Have a cup of lightly steamed broccoli and mushrooms with dinner (remember too much cooking can damage the vitamin), snack on a handful of sunflower seeds over the day and include wholegrain bread or cereal at breakfast or lunch to get your RDI.

B6 Pyridoxine – Fish

Fish is a great source of B6, as well as pork, eggs, vegemite, avocados and bananas. Have a nice salmon steak at dinner and a banana as a snack during the day to get your RDI.

B7 Biotin – Eggs

Biotin is found in the yolk of eggs, as well as in other foods such as almonds, peanuts, broccoli and meat. 2 eggs, 1/2 cup almonds or a serving of peanut butter will give you your RDI.

B9 Folic Acid (Folate) – Dark Green Leafy’s

This vitamin is important for women who are pregnant or preparing to get pregnant as its vital for cell growth and development. Deficiency can cause birth defects. Folate is found in dark leafy greens (especially sprouts and spinach), as well as green beans, peas, pulses, oranges and fortified cereals and breads. Have a fortified cereal for breakfast, an orange as a snack and some spinach salad for dinner to get your RDI.

B12 Cobalamin – Animal Products

Vegetarians and vegans can be at risk of deficiency of B12, as it is found in animal products such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt. Have a scrambled egg at breakfast or a serve of meat at dinner to meet your RDI for the day.

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