Vitamin of the month: Vitamin B
An important aspect of healthy eating is understanding the role that each vitamin and mineral plays in your body and why they’re crucial for optimum health. When we connect the dots of how nutrients influence vital functions of the organism, we start to pay more attention to what we eat to make sure we are obtaining all the essential nutrients our body needs.
Every month, we’re going to be breaking down vitamins and minerals for you to understand how, why and what they are important for, as well as what the best sources are.
Let’s talk about Vitamin B, an essential group of nutrients that play a vital role in our mental wellbeing. In an increasingly depressed and anxious society, this vitamin is absolutely crucial to prevent prevalent mental disorders.
What vitamins do the vitamin B group include?
The B-complex vitamins are made up of a group of eight vitamins, which include:
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Cyanocobalamin (B12)
- Folic Acid
Most of these vitamins share the common function of producing cellular energy from the foods we ingest, support normal nervous system function and is instrumental in keeping various bodily functions working optimally.
A vitamin that many people tend to be deficient in and is crucial for our mental health is vitamin B12. It is responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system and brain, DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation, influencing mental clarity and focus, emotional balance and stress. If we are deficient in this vitamin, we can experience signs of anxiety, depression and emotional unbalance.
In today’s society, there are an increasing number of people who suffer from mental disorders and when you realise the role that certain vitamins play on your mental health, you can put the pieces of the puzzle together and observe that they can be a result of a nutrient poor diet.
Another vitamin that is also essential in our diet, especially for women who are pregnant, is folate (B9). In foetal health and development, it plays a critical role in the development of the baby’s nervous system. Aside from the role it plays in women bearing a child, it is also responsible for preventing brain fog, irritability, depression, and emotional stress and in addition, repairs DNA.
What plant-based foods are rich in B vitamins?
- Vitamin B1: lentils, whole grains, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, spinach and legumes.
- Vitamin B2: cereals, salmon, broccoli and spinach.
- Vitamin B3: fish, whole wheat, peanuts and lentils.
- Vitamin B5: whole gains, avocadoes, cashews, peanuts, lentils, soybeans, brown rice and broccoli.
- Vitamin B6: bananas, fish, cereals and spinach.
- Biotin: brewer’s yeast, strawberries and soybeans.
- Folic Acid: dark leafy greens (spinach, asparagus, kale, etc.), brewer’s yeast, beetroot, dates and avocados.
- Vitamin B12: is predominantly found in foods of animal origin and not in plant-based foods. Therefore, those who follow a vegan diet should opt for a good vitamin B12 supplement.
For a balanced and healthy diet, make sure to include a wide range of foods to cover the vitamin B spectrum the body needs. Like Hippocrates once said, “you are what you eat”.
Vitamin B rich recipes: