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16 Healthy Foods High in Vitamin B – Real Simple

6 minutes, 6 seconds Read

Out of the 13 essential vitamins our body needs, the B vitamins make up eight of them. Why are they so important? B vitamins play a role in metabolism as well as in cell and DNA formation, including red blood cell formation, explains Janice Chow, RD, registered dietitian and founder of The Mindful Chow in California.

“Your energy levels, brain function, immune function, eyesight, digestion, nerve function, hormone production, muscle tone, and cardiovascular health all require vitamin B,” adds Amandeep Kalsi, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian in California. Here, discover foods with B vitamins and recipes that will help you to incorporate them into your diet.

Daily Value (DV) for the Eight B Vitamins

  • B1, Thiamin: 1.1 milligrams
  • B2, Riboflavin: 1.1 milligrams
  • B3, Niacin: 14 milligrams
  • B5, Pantothenic Acid: 5 milligrams
  • B6, Pyridoxine: 1.3 milligrams
  • B7, Biotin: 30 micrograms
  • B9, Folic Acid: 400 micrograms
  • B12, Cobalamin: 2.4 micrograms

(For most of these, the DV increases if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.)

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Vitamin B-Rich Foods

To help you include vitamin B foods in your diet, here is a list of the best sources, according to Chow and Kalsi.

Salmon

Caitlin Bensel

Salmon is extremely high in B vitamins. Besides the omega-3 fats, eating a 6-ounce fillet of salmon provides you with over 200 percent of the DV for B12, around 100 percent of the DV for B3, 70 percent of the DV for B6, 42 percent of the DV for B5, 30 percent of the DV for B2, close to 15 percent of the DV for B1, and 2 percent of the DV for B9.

Firm Tofu

Caitlin Bensel

While not everyone’s cup of tea, tofu is a great plant-based source of B vitamins, says Chow. A cup of raw, firm tofu has 36 percent of the DV for B1, around 20 percent of the DV for B2 and B9, and close to 15 percent of the DV for B6.

You can also get fortified versions of tofu, which is a great source of B12 for vegetarians.

Green Peas

Victor Protasio

If you had half a cup of peas at lunch, and another half cup at dinner, you’d be getting 35 percent of the DV for B1, 25 percent of the DV for B9, around 20 percent of the DV for B2, B6, and B12.

Beef

Victor Protasio

Cooked beef is especially high in B12, providing approximately 4 micrograms in a six-ounce serving (around 190 percent of the DV). Besides that, it has around 75 percent of the DV for B2, 80 percent of the DV for B3, close to 50 percent of the DV for B6 and 25 percent of the DV for B5.

Avocado

Christopher Testani

If you’re looking for a creamy, savory side packed with B vitamins, look no further than guacamole. One raw avocado has 30 percent of the DV for B6, around 20 percent of the DV for B2, B3, and B9, and around 10 percent of the DV for B1.

Spinach

Jennifer Causey

A rich source of folic acid, one cup of cooked spinach contains 262 micrograms of B9 (66 percent of the DV). Wilting a cup of this dark, leafy green into your curry or pasta sauce also provides 15 percent of the DV for B6, and 10 percent of the DV for B1 and B2.

Eggs

Victor Protasio

Eggs are rich in vitamin B7, known as biotin. A cooked egg has 25 micrograms of B7 (103 percent of the DV), along with 20 percent of the DV for B12 and B2, and 14 percent of the DV for B5.

Brown Rice

Brie Passano

In addition to the extra fiber, brown rice is a healthy carbohydrate that delivers serious B vitamins. A cup of cooked brown rice yields 16 to 33 percent of the DV for B1, B6, B3, and B5. Yet another great reason to start including this grain as a staple in your cooking.

Chicken

Caitlin Bensel

If you’re looking for a vitamin B6 food, your best bet is chicken. A cooked 6-ounce serving of chicken breast provides 1 milligrams of B6 (48 percent of the DV), 16 milligrams of B3 (100 percent of the DV), over 50 percent of the DV for B5, approximately 30 percent of the DV for B2, and 15 percent of the DV for B1 and B12.

Lentils (and Other Legumes)

Antonis Achilleos

A cooked cup of lentils provides 90 percent of the DV for B9, making it a delicious folate source for those who are pregnant and following a plant-based diet. Lentils also contain over 10 percent of the DV for B1, B5, and B6, and more than 10 percent of the DV for B3 and B2. Other legumes, like edamame (green soy beans), pinto beans, and black beans are also good sources of B9.

Mushrooms

Greg DuPree

Mushrooms are an easy way to get vitamins B5, B3, and B2. A cup of cooked white mushrooms contains 54 percent of the DV for B3, 32 percent of the DV for B5, and 30 percent of the DV for B2. It also has vitamin B7 or biotin, providing about 9 micrograms in a three-ounce serving of fresh button mushrooms.

Asparagus

Victor Protasio

If you’re planning for pregnancy and can tolerate asparagus, add them to your plate! A cup of cooked asparagus has 67 percent of the DV for B9. You’ll also get around 30 percent of the DV for B1, around 20 percent of the DV for B2, and over 10 percent of the DV for B3.

Pork

PHOTO: GREG DUPREE.

Greg DuPree


If you eat pork, whip up a pork tenderloin for dinner. It’s a simple meal and one three-ounce serving of cooked pork tenderloin contains more than 70 percent of your daily recommended DV for B1.

Milk

Iloliloli/Getty Images


You can drink your vitamins too. A cup of whole milk contains 30 percent of your DV of B2. You’ll also get a bit of B1 to help contribute to your overall daily value as well.

Greek Yogurt

Victor Protasio


Greek yogurt is a powerhouse when it comes to B12. It contains more than half of your DV of the vitamin and also contains nearly 40 percent of your DV for B2, Eat it for breakfast or whip up a tasty dip for your veggies.

Nutritional yeast

Victor Protasio

Nutritional yeast is a dairy-free seasoning beloved by many plant-based dieters because it tastes a lot like cheese! And it’s typically fortified with vitamin B12 too! A five gram serving of nutritional yeast contains 310 percent of your DV for B12.

How to Get Vitamin B Foods Into Your Diet

Your body can’t store B vitamins for long, so they need to be replenished regularly through your diet. Luckily, vitamin B foods often contain more than one B vitamin. For instance, several vitamin B6 foods, like salmon, chicken, and brown rice, are also good sources of other B vitamins. If you don’t have a digestive condition or restrictive diet, says Kalsi, you’re likely able to get enough of most B vitamins by eating a variety of foods each week.

The only times when a dietitian or physician might be concerned about certain vitamin B levels would be if you don’t eat animal proteins or if you’re planning to become pregnant. Non-meat-eaters usually need to look for fortified food options, like fortified cereal or tofu, to achieve the DV of B12, Kalsi says, or may be encouraged to take a supplement. If you’re planning a pregnancy, you might be advised to take a B9 (folic acid) supplement containing 100 percent DV and also eat foods rich in B9 because the development of the baby’s neural tube (which later becomes the spinal cord, spine, brain, and skull) is dependent on this.

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