Feeling drained and lacking energy? Analyze your B vitamin intake. Together, the group of B vitamins commonly referred to as the B-Complex group work together to produce energy in cells throughout your body. Fall short of getting enough, and you may feel a lack of energy.
Though B vitamins are prevalent in a variety of foods, you may not be getting what you need if you cut out certain food groups from your diet, if you are on a low-carb diet or don’t get enough variety in your diet. There are also certain circumstances that deplete your body’s available B vitamins or that don’t allow for proper absorption, such as gastric bypass surgery, aging, alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine consumption and excessive stress. Vegetarians and vegans typically do not get enough vitamin B12.
- All B Vitamins – Fortified cereals. Can’t go wrong here, just be sure to stay away from the sugary ones, most are good source of fiber too.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – Necessary for energy production. Chronic alcoholics are most likely to be deficient in thiamin. Top food choices: grains (cereal, bread, etc.), pork, beef, rice, nuts.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), and Pantothenic Acid – Deficiencies for these three B’s are not very common in the U.S. If you consume an adequate amount of protein (vegetarian or vegans may not), you are most likely getting enough B3.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – Like all B’s it helps to convert energy from the food you eat in to a usable form in your body, and it also contributes to red blood cell formation and is necessary to proper nervous system function. A poor diet, some medications and conditions could cause a shortage of this vitamin. Top Food Choices: chicken, pork, peanut butter, black beans, almonds.
- Biotin – Important to skin, hair and nails, energy conversion from food and nervous system function. Pregnant women, malnourished people and those who have lost a large amount of weight quickly can all be affected by a deficiency. Top Food Choices: cooked eggs, wheat germ, peanuts, cottage cheese, and whole-wheat bread.
- Vitamin B12 – An outlier of the B vitamin group, B12 is the only one that can be stored in the body. Strict vegetarian/vegan diets run the risk of B12 deficiency since it can only be sourced from animal-based foods, as are those who have had certain kinds of gastric bypass surgery in which parts of the small intestine where B12 is absorbed have been removed. Top Food Choices: liver, salmon, clams, trout, beef, yogurt, haddock, tuna, milk, and cheese.
What happens if you get B vitamins from food and from a supplement? Can you get too much?
Because B vitamins are water soluble, what your body needs will be excreted, so there’s a low risk of getting too much. Look for a good liquid multivitamin or B-Complex supplement that contains at least 100% of the recommended daily intake for each vitamin. It’s the best way to insure you get all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy.