The B complex vitamins help your body extract energy from food, so they are critical for every process in your body. Because B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning your body cannot store them, it is important to ensure that your diet provides sufficient amounts of these nutrients every day. Many foods contain one or more B complex vitamins.
Whole grain products are good sources of all B complex vitamins except vitamin B-12 and biotin. Options include whole-grain flour, brown and wild rice, whole barley, muesli, oatmeal, millet and wheat germ. Refined grain products such as white bread, white rice and most pasta contain fewer nutrients, including the B vitamins. For more nutrient-rich grain products like bread and pasta, look for the term "whole grains" on the label.
Vegetables, Fruits and Legumes
Legumes and leafy green vegetables, along with some fruits and nuts, are rich in biotin and vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid. Rich sources of vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, include broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, almonds and soybeans. Beets and peanuts are good sources of niacin, or vitamin B-3. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit contain significant amounts folate. For vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, eat spinach, carrots, beans, lentils and sunflower seeds.
Meat, Eggs and Dairy
Eggs and meat, including fish, shellfish and poultry, are good sources of biotin, thiamine, or vitamin B-1, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. Milk and other dairy products like cheese and butter provide riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. Liver, clams and trout are all especially rich in vitamin B-12. Because animal products are the most common sources of vitamin B-12, vegans may be a risk for deficiency. Eating fortified foods or nutritional yeast, or taking dietary supplements, may reduce this risk.
B Vitamin Function
All B vitamins help your body turn carbohydrates into glucose, a sugar that your body requires for energy. Beyond this, though, the B vitamins have various functions in your body. Vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate promote healthy red blood cell formation. Thiamine and vitamin B-12 support the nervous system and niacin helps keep nerves healthy. Riboflavin and niacin promote skin health. Thiamine and niacin are important for normal appetite.
Signs of Deficiency
Not eating enough foods rich in B vitamins may lead to deficiency. Because different B vitamins take on different roles in your body, symptoms of deficiency may vary depending on which vitamin you are lacking. A deficiency of riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B-6 can lead to skin problems such as dermatitis. Not enough thiamine and niacin can cause muscle weakness and mental confusion. A vitamin B-12 deficiency may lead to neurological problems, while a deficiency of vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6 or folate can cause anemia.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.
These foods are a rich source of protein. Protein is needed for lots of functions throughout the body, therefore we all need some protein in our diets.
Meat is also a good source of vitamin B12 and iron. A diet rich in iron will help prevent iron deficiency anaemia. This is a common condition found in children and can result in children having little energy and looking pale.
It is recommended that children and adults eat 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. Tinned fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and pilchards contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids and have been proven to be beneficial for heart health. White fish like cod, haddock and coley are good sources of protein but are also low in fat. Fresh tuna counts as a portion of oily fish but tinned tuna does not because the oils are destroyed by processing (tuna is the only tinned fish that this applies to).
Eggs are a convenient and tasty alternative to meat and are extremely versatile. They can be scrambled, boiled, poached or made into an omelette. Vegetable protein can be found in beans, peas and lentils - these foods also contain fibre, B vitamins and iron.
Processed meats and chicken products are often a real favourite with children. They should not be offered too often (aim for no more than once a week) as they tend to be high in fat and salt. If using processed meat products such as chicken nuggets or burgers, grill or bake on a rack rather than frying.