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Foods high in vitamin B

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Vitamin B has many important functions in your body, including converting food to energy.
  • Each type of vitamin B has its own natural food sources. Many of them are animal-based (meat, fish and dairy).
  • Other natural sources of vitamin B include wholewheat bread, vegetables, nuts and yeast extracts.
  • A balanced diet will give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy and increase your quality of life.

Why should I include vitamin B in my diet?

Vitamin B should be a part of your diet. It helps your body function better, such as your metabolism (how your body converts food to energy). It also plays a vital role in your body’s cellular processes.

Each type of vitamin B has a different but critical role in keeping you healthy. For example, B12, B6 and B9 are important vitamins for healthy brain and nerve function. Vitamin B2 is important for skin health and good vision.

Go here for more information on vitamin B and your health.

What are the best natural sources of vitamin B?

Thiamin (B1)

B1 is found in fish, meat, wholewheat breads, fortified cereals (cereals with added nutrients such as B1) and yeast extracts (such as Vegemite spread).

Riboflavin (B2)

B2 is found in dairy products (such as milk, yoghurt and cheese), yeast extracts, eggs, wholewheat bread and fortified cereals.

Niacin (B3)

B3 is found in meat, chicken, fish, nuts and yeast extracts.

Pantothenic acid (B5)

B5 is found in many foods, including liver, meats, milk, eggs, yeast, peanuts and legumes.

Pyridoxine (B6)

B6 is found in meat, fish, wholewheat foods, nuts and vegetables.

Biotin (B7)

B7 is found in liver, cauliflower, peanuts, chicken, yeast and mushrooms.

Folate (B9)

B9 is found in liver, legumes, wholewheat breads and cereals, and leafy green vegetables. The more that food is processed and cooked, the less folate it will have.

Cobalamin (B12)

B12 is found in animal-based products (such as meat, fish, eggs and milk) and certain fortified cereals.

To have a diet high in B vitamins, try to eat a wide variety of fresh unprocessed foods, such as meat and other proteins, dairy, cereals, fruits and vegetables.

if you have a restricted diet, such as a vegan diet, you may be at risk of vitamin deficiency. You might need supplements to get enough B vitamins.

Before taking any vitamin supplement, speak with your doctor or an accredited dietician. While vitamins can supplement your diet, you still need to eat healthily.

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What is a balanced diet?

To maintain a balanced diet, you should monitor what you eat and drink. Include a variety of nutritious foods from all five food groups every day.

The 5 food groups are:

  • vegetables and legumes/beans — at least 5 serves daily
  • fruit — 2 serves daily
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans — 1 to 3 serves a day, depending on your age (and during pregnancy, 3-4 serves a day are recommended)
  • milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat — at least 2-3 serves daily, with the minimum amount varying based on your age, sex and life stage
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties — the number of daily wholegrain cereal serves you need varies based on your age and life stage, ranging from 4 serves daily for children to 6 serves daily for adult males under 70 years and adult females under 50 years of age

Aim to limit takeaway foods such as pizza and fried food to once weekly or less. Choose water rather than sugary drinks. Limit sweet foods like cakes and muffins, and salty, processed foods like salami and chips.

Drink no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per day. For pregnant and breastfeeding people, the safest option is to not drink any alcohol.

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Last reviewed: May 2022

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