Where do vegans get B Vitamins?
The Vitamin B group of vitamins help our bodies convert food into energy, create new blood cells and they help with maintenance of healthy skin cells, brain cells, and other body tissues.
Let’s Break the B’s down.
There are 8 vitamins that make up the group Vitamin B. They are:
* B1 – Thiamin
It enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy, it is essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function.
Vegan Sources: Beans, peas, lentils, and sunflower seeds.
* B2 - Riboflavin
This vitamin is crucial for breaking down food components, absorbing other nutrients, and maintaining body tissues.
Vegan Sources: Almonds, tofu, mushrooms, avocado, and spinach.
* B3 - niacin
It plays a role in converting the food we eat into energy. It helps the body to use proteins and fats, and it keeps the nervous system, skin, and hair healthy.
Vegan Sources: Brown rice, nuts, seeds, legumes, and bananas.
* B5 - Pantothenic acid
It helps produce energy by breaking down fats and carbohydrates. It also promotes healthy liver, skin, hair, and eyes.
Vegan Sources: Mushrooms, avocado, nuts, seeds, potatoes, brown rice, oats, and broccoli.
* B6 - pyridoxine
It benefits the central nervous system and metabolism, it helps to turn food into energy, and it also helps to create neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine.
Vegan Sources: Chickpeas, dark leafy greens, papayas, bananas, oranges, and cantaloupe.
* B7 - Biotin
It helps the body metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and protein. It can also support hair and nails, pregnancy health, and it can helps manage blood sugar levels.
Vegan Sources: Sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
* B9 - Folate
It is necessary for producing red and white blood cells in bone marrow, producing DNA and RNA, and transforming carbohydrates into energy.
Vegan Sources: Dark leafy greens, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and oranges.
* B12 - Cobalamin
It is crucial for nerve tissue health, brain function, and production of red blood cells.
Vegan Sources: Fortified nutritional yeast and breakfast cereals, as well as enriched plant-based milks and yogurts.
Benefits of the 8 B Vitamins includes:
It helps regulate blood sugar
It supports heart health
It protects against cognitive decline
It supports a healthy pregnancy and fetal development
It helps to balance out hormones
It keeps nails, skin, and hair healthy
It helps with athletic performance
And it helps to improve Mood
Should you supplement with B’s?
Most of the B vitamins are found in plant based whole foods. If you feel you do not get enough of the food listed and might lack the important B’s. Consult a doctor who specializes in plant nutrition. They can guide you and they might advise you to do a simple deficiency test. This will not only put your mind at ease, but it will also help you to achieve optimal health as a vegan. If you decide to get a supplement without the help of a doctor, please note that overdosing of the B’s is rare, and the excess will be eliminated by urine. Signs of an overdose include excessive thirst, skin rashes, blurred vision, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, increased urination, and diarrhea.
What about B12?
Although a plant-based diet provides our bodies with almost everything they need to thrive, vegans must take vitamin B12 supplements.
Vitamin B12 is made naturally by bacteria in the soil. Traditionally, people and animals would have obtained this vitamin by eating food from the ground.
However, food production systems are now so sanitized and scrubbed clean that we do need to take a supplement.
This is because signs of deficiency include extreme tiredness, lack of energy, muscle weakness, depression and even cognitive problems1.
Animals are no different to us and are not magical creators of vitamin B12. Meat, eggs, and dairy foods contain it because farmed animals are given supplements too – their natural diet having been depleted2 in much the same way as our own.
The argument to eat meat and dairy for B12 is therefore invalid — so why not get your B12 straight from the source?
The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12, add these to your diet to keep those levels up.
Please note that the nutritional yeast should be fortified to contain B12.
Luckily, the ones easily available to us in Dubai contains B12, for example:
Spinneys: Bob Red Mill Nutritional Yeast
Kibson's: Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast
I-herb: KAL nutritional yeast.
Regarding Nori, the B12 content is debatable, there is research on both sides. B12 is present in Nori, but some experts believe it can’t be digested by humans and some experts do. I prefer to be on the Do side of the debate, but best to decide for yourself.