B vitamins are necessary for the body to function properly -- and Americans aren’t getting enough of them. Studies have found that close to 40 percent of people do not have adequate levels of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, in their systems.
Part of the reason for this shortage of B vitamins is that they are not stored in fat cells for later use, like vitamin A and vitamin D are. B vitamins are water-soluble, which means that the body needs a daily replenishment in order to hold on to healthy levels of this essential nutrient. The body can’t just tap into its reserves when it’s running low -- it needs a constant, fresh supply.
The best way to get this fresh supply is with a healthy diet. People cannot replenish what they lose each day without eating the right foods. And without the proper amount of B vitamins, people can start to feel the effects: B deficiencies can cause fatigue, memory loss and even heart disease!
Why do we need B vitamins and how do we get them?
The various types of vitamins in the B family are referred to collectively as the B-complex. Eight different types -- B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12 -- make up the B-complex, and each one has its own role to play in the healthy human body. Some, like niacin (B3), boost good cholesterol levels, while others, like folate (B9), support memory and brain function. All B vitamins are essential for cell regeneration, brain function and heart health.
The average adult needs a certain amount of each B vitamin daily in order to maintain optimal health. The amount varies depending on the type -- the daily recommended value of vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms, while recommended levels of B3 clock in at around 16 milligrams.
Different food sources provide different B vitamins as well. Animal proteins, nuts, seeds and vegetables are all incredibly rich sources of B vitamins, but the B vitamin type and amount varies depending on the food group.
What foods are best for replenishing B vitamins?
Replenishing B vitamins doesn’t have to be a boring ritual full of dry biscuits and bland plants. Plenty of delicious foods, preparation methods and flavor profiles can deliver the essential B vitamins that everybody needs for optimal health.
- Short ribs. Different cuts of beef contain varying amounts of vitamin B12. Short ribs lead the pack: a single serving offers 3 micrograms, or 120 percent of your recommended daily intake!
- Sea bass. This luxurious, buttery fish not only tastes incredible, but it is extremely nutritious as well. Low-calorie and nutrient-dense, a serving of sea bass provides 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin B6.
- Salmon. Wild salmon delivers high levels of vitamins B6, B9 and B12. These three B vitamins are particularly important -- when consumed together, they work to stop the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid that can cause heart disease.
- Veal. This tender cut of meat from young cattle is full of the vitamin B needed to maintain healthy heart and brain function. Each serving of this meat boasts 1.1 micrograms, nearly half of the recommended 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12.
Whether eaten alone or with tasty side dishes, these B-vitamin-rich foods are the perfect way to boost energy levels, increase mental performance and ensure the healthy day-to-day function of your body. Dig in!