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10 foods high in B vitamins

What foods do you eat with B vitamins? If you eat a balanced diet filled with a variety of foods, there is a chance you might eat plenty.

Let’s learn a little bit about B vitamins, first. There are eight types of B vitamins, including thiamin or B1, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folate (B9), and vitamin B12. They make up a B complex, which is widely used in supplements.

B vitamins are essential for many aspects of health, including cognitive function (1), heart health, (2) energy production, skin and hair health, hormone function, the development of many cells throughout the body, and more.

The most common deficiency is typically in vitamin B12. It is also important to consider the fact that even though you might get an adequate amount of B vitamins, many factors can deplete B vitamins, especially vitamin B6. One example includes oral contraceptives. (3)

Summary: B vitamins are essential for cognitive and heart health, energy production, skin and hair health, hormone function, and development of many cells. There are 8 types: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folate (B9), and vitamin B12. They can be found in a variety of foods.

Foods that are high in B vitamins

1. Fish

Packed with tons of beneficial nutrients, fish is no stranger to the B vitamins world. Many types of fish are a rich source of essential B vitamins.

The best types of fish with B vitamins include salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies. That is because these fish have the least amount of mercury, and they are full of tons of essential nutrients beyond B vitamins.

Other types of fish high in B vitamins include shellfish like oysters, lobster, clams, shrimp, and more.

You can also get a B vitamin boost from whitefish in your diet like lake trout, halibut, and flounder, to name a few.

Summary: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, trout, halibut, and flounder are fish choices rich in B vitamins. Shellfish high in B vitamins include oysters, lobster, clams, and shrimp. Choose healthy fish options twice per week to reap the nutritious benefits of B vitamins and healthy fats. Toss shrimp into pasta, make fish tacos, or simply bake fish with lemon and olive oil in the oven.

 

2. Red Meat

Red meat is rich in B vitamins, and some red meat contains a wide variety of B vitamins, especially beef liver.

More lean red meat high in B vitamins includes pork (high in B6, thiamin, and biotin), beef, veal, and lamb. It is best to eat a variety of these if you like all of them. That way, you get the most variety of vitamins and minerals.

There are many other health benefits to lean meat, too. Meat is high in all nine essential amino acids necessary for optimal functioning in the body. It is also an excellent source of heme iron, selenium, protein, vitamin D3, and more.

Meat is best to eat as a small portion of a meal instead of the main course. To get the health benefits from meat, all you need is a serving no larger than the palm of your hand. Farm-raised often has growth hormones and antibiotics. Studies show that growth hormones and antibiotics harm human health. How can you avoid this? Choose grass-fed meat without antibiotics and hormones whenever you can. (4)

Summary: Red meat is rich in B vitamins, especially beef liver. Consume a variety of pork, beef, veal, and lamb to get the best variety of B vitamin intake. Meat is also high in all nine essential amino acids, heme iron, selenium, protein, and vitamin D3. Consume lean red meat in its proper portion size, which is about the size of your palm.

3. Chicken

Chicken is high in pantothenic acid, vitamin B5, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6, and B12.

Chicken, like red meat, is also high in protein, selenium, zinc, and essential amino acids. You cannot get certain B vitamins from plants alone. Meat or supplements are a must if you do not eat meat like chicken or red meat.

Without B vitamins, the body cannot function properly on a cellular level. Chicken can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. Moderation is key with all types of meat. Add some organic chicken to your diet for a healthier choice.

Get your share of lean chicken to up your B vitamin levels over time.

Summary: Chicken contains high amounts of pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6, and B12. It is also high in protein, selenium, zinc, and essential amino acids. Chicken is a lean protein option that can be easily incorporated into a balanced, healthy diet.

4. Eggs

Eggs are another animal-based food high in necessary B vitamins. Eggs are particularly high in vitamin B2 and B12.

An excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are an easy solution to get in more B vitamins. Eggs are especially helpful for those who follow vegetarian diets. Vegetarian diets are frequently low in vitamin B12.

Their high protein content makes them a great option to prevent the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension, too. (5)

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods. There are plenty of ways to enjoy them. Whether they are poached, fried, hard-boiled, or made into a frittata or omelet, it is hard to get sick of eggs.

Want an easy breakfast to try? Combine two hard-boiled eggs with a spoonful of cottage cheese, some spinach or leafy greens, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix and enjoy.

Summary: Eggs are a great source of B vitamins, especially vitamin B2 and B12. Also an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, eggs are great for vegetarians who consume eggs to ensure they meet vitamin B12 recommendations, a vitamin that is often low in vegetarian and vegan diets. They are very versatile and pair well with vegetables, beans, cottage cheese, or whole grain toast.

5. Dairy

Packed with tons of B vitamins, dairy can be an excellent part of a healthy diet.

From yogurt and milk to cheese, dairy products provide a good portion of the daily requirement for B vitamins. Dairy products have calcium, vitamin D, and much more, too.

If you are lactose intolerant, dairy is not a valid option. Do not worry. There are plenty of other foods to get necessary B vitamins, calcium, and minerals. Follow the other foods on this list and see where you can add in some more B vitamins to your diet.

Summary: Low-fat dairy foods are very rich in B vitamins. This includes all yogurt, milk, or cheese varieties. Dairy products also contain great sources of calcium and vitamin D. The good news is if you’re lactose intolerant, you can get your B vitamin intake from a variety of other sources including leafy greens, beans, legumes, eggs, or lean meat.

6. Leafy Green Vegetables

Popeye didn’t just eat his spinach for the protein. Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, bok choy, collard greens, and Brussel sprouts, have an abundance of vitamins and minerals, including the essential B vitamins necessary for protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Green vegetables are a healthy option for anyone, especially vegetarians and vegans. For those who don’t eat meat, it can be hard to get enough folate from plants alone.

They are high in folate, which is essential for cell growth, and it is a critical component of a healthy pregnancy. For that reason, it’s important for pregnant women who follow a plant-based diet to monitor their nutrition intake regularly. Although it can be safe to follow a vegetarian diet during pregnancy, many advise careful monitoring of your intake of essential nutrients, especially when it comes to folate. (6)

Summary: Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, bok choy, collard greens, and brussels sprouts are rich in many nutrients, including essential B vitamins. For vegetarians, vegans, or lactose-intolerant individuals, leafy greens are a very healthy alternative to reaching essential B vitamin intake. They are especially high in folate, which is essential for cell growth.

7. Beans and Legumes

Are you trying to lay off the meat lately? Another staple for vegan and vegetarian diets are beans and legumes.

Beans and legumes are great for anyone to add to their diet, too. Want to start adding more of these to your diet? It can be an easy task. One thing you can do is prepare soup and stews with beans and legumes as your star ingredients.

Black beans, soybeans, and peas are examples of beans and legumes with essential B vitamins. They are an especially great source of folate.

Beans and legumes come with many other health benefits, too. They are full of protein, non-heme iron, potassium, antioxidants, and more. Beans and legumes are naturally anti-inflammatory because they are high in soluble fiber and protein.

Summary: Beans and legumes are great sources of B vitamins. For vegan and vegetarian diets especially, beans and legumes are important to meet B vitamin, protein, potassium, non-heme iron, and antioxidant recommendations. You can easily add them to soup, stew, salads, or even scrambled eggs. Black beans, soybeans, and peas are a few rich sources to name that are especially high in folate.

8. Sunflower Seeds

Ah, sunflower seeds. The snack of choice at all the baseball games across time. Maybe there was a reason they are the choice for baseball players for so long. Sunflowers pack a potent punch of niacin, folate, and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps the body turn food into energy. Perhaps there is more than just spitting them into the dugout after all.

Sunflower seeds can also help to regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels.

Try to snack on some naturally salty sunflower seeds for an energy and nutrition boost. You can buy them without the shell or spit them out like your favorite baseball player.

Summary: Sunflower seeds are a popular food choice that have many health benefits. Rich in niacin, folate, and vitamin B6, they are helpful for turning food into energy, balancing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, and reducing cholesterol. Add to salads, snack on them plain, or incorporate into a homemade trail mix with other nuts and dried fruits.

9. Fortified Foods

Vegetarians and vegans rejoice. Fortified foods are another area you can get more essential B vitamins into your diet.

Cereal, whole grains, bread, and oatmeal are some of the foods commonly fortified with B vitamins. These are often necessary for vegetarians and vegans because they are one of the only sources they can get.

Do you want to flavor up your fortified foods without getting too unhealthy? Here is a quick tip.

One thing you can do is kick up your oatmeal game. Try rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and overnight oats for a few new takes on this often plain but nutritious breakfast. Add in some sunflower seeds, cacao nibs or powder, almond butter, shredded almonds, blueberries, cinnamon, milk, and your taste buds will not be disappointed.

Summary: Fortified foods, such as cereal, whole grains, bread, and oatmeal, are commonly fortified with B vitamins. This is helpful for vegetarian or vegan diets to boost B vitamin intake. Oatmeal is an excellent food also rich in fiber and protein. Try topping oatmeal with sunflower seeds, nut butter, sliced almonds, berries, cinnamon, and milk for a healthy, B vitamin-rich meal.

10. Mushrooms

Another vegetarian source of B vitamins is available for the vegans and vegetarians out there.

Mushrooms are high in three types of B vitamins, pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin. Fungi are excellent for skin health, cognitive function, digestive health, and they can help to boost the immune system. Mushrooms are extremely easy to digest for optimal nutrition. They also have potent disease-fighting properties, antioxidants, and nutrients.

From portobello and shitake to cremini, oyster, and white button mushrooms, there are a plethora of options to add to your cooking routine.

Summary: Mushrooms are especially high in pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin. They are especially helpful for skin health, cognitive function, digestive health, and a healthy immune system. They are rich in antioxidants, which is helpful for disease prevention and overall health. Add mushrooms to soup, chili, stew, scrambled eggs, spaghetti sauce, or simply sauté with olive oil for a quick side dish.

Conclusion

All eight B vitamins are critical for cell growth, repair, energy production, and to ward off chronic disease. Make sure you get optimal levels of B vitamins in whatever diet works best for you.

Many foods include B vitamins, but consider what foods are the highest and make sure you get enough of those, too. Don’t think your diet has enough B vitamins? Try to add in some of these foods and see how you feel after.

If adding these high B vitamin foods isn’t an option, a B complex supplement may be beneficial for you. Speak with your doctor if you have any common B deficiency symptoms and see what you can add to your diet today.

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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, and written, fact-checked & medically reviewed by health experts.

Throughout this article, you'll find scientific references (clickable links to highly trusted peer-reviewed scientific papers, links denoted by the numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3)).