Can Healthy Vegans Get Enough Vitamin B without Supplements?
Hi there fam bam!
I'm here to talk VITAMINS, because I get asked this a lot from folks that are curious as to how vegans get their Vitamin B (and protein, but that's for another post). While yes, if you neglect to eat the foods that provide you with the appropriate amount of Vitamin B, you should look at taking supplements; however it is very easy to get your B's, ya dig?
Okay, so let's name these B's so that you understand what the heck I am talking about, and so that you can see just how easy it is to get!
There are 8 B vitamins that are essential to everyday living. There's B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate or Folic Acid), and B12.
B1 Thiamine (only 0.8 milligrams needed per day)
Thiamine aides the body to use carbs as energy. It also helps prevent complications in the nervous system, which is why this is so important.
Foods that contain B1: Whole grains (oats, whole meal bread, whole wheat pasta & brown rice), sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, tahini, corn on the cob (perfect for summer), peas, beans, lentils, and so much more!
Think about it, you could literally eat some fresh corn and get a good amount of B1.
B2 Riboflavin (only 1.1 milligrams per day)
Riboflavin is good for your overall health. This vitamin also helps break down carbs in the body to use as energy later.
Foods that contain B2: nutritional yeast, quinoa, muesli, fortified vegan breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk, avocado, almonds, wild rice, and mushrooms.
(I'm a mushroom lover, so I'm super excited about this one)
B3 Niacin (1.3 milligrams per day)
If you want healthy skin, you better be getting your daily dose!
Foods that contain B3: nutritional yeast, peanuts, quinoa, wild rice, wholewheat spaghetti, corn on the cob, brown rice and acorn squash.
B5 Pantothenic Acid
Let's just call this Panto, shall we? Panto helps build your immune system and hormones. I don't want to seem biased, but it's one of the most important vitamins you'll need. Why? Because it helps your body make red blood cells (which we all know is crucial).
Foods that contain B5: nutritional yeast, avocado, acorn squash, plantains, baked potato, corn on the cob, sweet potato, mushrooms, oranges, pecans, oatmeal or rolled oats, and chestnuts (hello Christmas time).
B6 Pyridoxine (only 1.2 milligrams per day)
Okay...let's stop right here. Did you know that B6 can help with PMS/Menstrual symptoms? Those cramps that are driving you crazy? I GOT YOU!
Before I forget, B6 is also beneficial to carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Foods that contain B6: nutritional yeast, avocados, pistachios, wheat germ, acorn squash, banana (great for periods!), quinoa, sunflower seeds, corn on the cob, wholewheat spaghetti, brussels sprouts, spring greens, chestnuts, hazelnuts, oranges, sesame seeds and tahini, tomatoes and walnuts.
Skin, hair, and nails. That's all that you need to know! Just kidding, this vitamin plays a key role fat, sugar, and protein metabolism.
Foods that contain B7: tempeh (fermented soy beans), peanuts and peanut butter, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios, muesli, nutritional yeast, oatmeal or rolled oats, mushrooms, avocado, sunflower and sesame seeds, tahini (sesame seed paste), fortified breakfast cereals and wheat germ.
B9 Folate or Folic Acid
B9 plays an important role in mental and emotional health. It's also extremely crucial for those growing kids of yours. B9 also makes sure you are getting enough iron in the body.
Foods that contain B9: nutritional yeast, edamame, soy milk, tofu, green vegetables (asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, white cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and peas), yeast extract (Marmite/Vegemite), red pepper, oranges, beetroot, lentils, acorn squash, sweetcorn, cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts
And the most common known one- Vitamin B12 (1.5 micrograms per day but aim for 3)
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA.
Side note: "With modern hygienic practices more effectively cleaning and sanitizing produce, along with soil being exposed to more antibiotics and pesticides, most plant foods are no longer reliable sources of this bacterial product" - Fork over Knives
So yes, a supplement should probably be taken (even if you are not vegan), just because it's a lot harder to get this vitamin anywhere else. BUT, below there are options besides taking a supplement.
Foods that contain B12:
yeast extracts, nutritional yeast flakes with B12, B12-fortified plant milks, B12-fortified dairy-free yogurts and desserts, B12-fortified breakfast cereals and B12-fortified margarine. Make sure the ones you buy are B12 fortified – organic versions aren’t fortified.
So, as you can see, HEALTHY vegans can get their vitamins just fine. So don't you worry your little self about that, honey! Are YOU getting your vitamins? Make sure you are intentional about what goes on your plate (or hand, whichever way you like to eat. I won't judge).