Vitamin B Complex Foods

Amongst all the various nutrients necessary for a healthy body, there are a group of B vitamins that are particularly important in converting the food we consume into fuel that the cells of the body can use. This complex contributes to healthy nails, hair, skin and also good mental health. There are about 8 B vitamins, namely: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12. These vitamins are easily sourced from foods we eat, so it is important to eat the correct foods for great overall health.

Vitamin B Complex Foods

  • Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine): is found in all types of cereals, whole grains, lentils, pulses, pasta, legumes, green leaves like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, fish, milk, eggs, meat, some nuts like pecans and almonds.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): is abundant in chicken, eggs, fish, peas and lentils, green veggies such as asparagus, broccoli and spinach. Certain cereals are also fortified with riboflavin.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): fish, like tuna, salmon, and chicken are a great source of this B vitamin. People who don't eat meat can get their daily requirements from foods like whole wheat, pasta and legumes.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): foods such as broccoli, legumes, sweet potatoes and mushrooms are great sources of this B vitamin.
  • Vitamin B6(pyridoxine): eggs, poultry, red meat like beef and potatoes can supply sufficient levels of pyridoxine.
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): egg yolks and liver are the best sources of biotin. Alternative sources are avocado, pork and salmon. Trace amount of biotin can be found in vegetables and cheeses.
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate): fresh fruits and vegetables, green leaves such as spinach, legumes, dried beans, orange juice and liver are some of the sources of vitamin B9. This vitamin is particularly important in pregnant women to prevent spina bifida.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): animal sources like beef, poultry, fish, milk and related products like cheese are rich in vitamin B12. However, during the manufacturing process, many cereals and soy-based products are enriched with cobalamin. Certain shellfish like clams and mussels also contain dietary vitamin B12.

Vegetarians or people with certain dietary restrictions may find it challenging to incorporate foods that encompass the vitamin B complex in sufficient quantities to ensure a healthy body. Below is a recipe with vitamin B complex foods that may inspire you:

Vegan Kale and Sweet Potato Cutlets


  • 2 cups of roasted, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups of kale
  • about ½ cup of coriander
  • 1 tsp Indian spice, garam masala
  • 1 ½ cups chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Using a food processor, chop the coriander and kale with a bit of salt. Let this stand so that all the water is released. Squeeze out excess water.
  • Add to the mashed sweet potatoes, ginger, salt, cayenne and garam masala.
  • Add in the chickpea flour in increments of a ¼ cup until the texture is firm to form the cutlets. Roll into balls in your palms–the mixture should be soft yet firm to hold the shape.
  • Heat the oil in a pan.
  • Moisten palms with water and divide the cutlets into 12 equal portions. The final shape should be circular approximately 2 inches across.
  • Cook each cutlet in the heated oil on medium heat until golden on each side.
  • Remove from the oil and drain the excess oil on some kitchen tissue.

Do You Have Enough Vitamin B Complex?

Generally, healthy individuals should consume vitamin B complex foods, according to the recommended daily allowances (RDA). However, this is only a general guideline and does not take into account certain lifestyles and medical conditions that may require higher or lower levels. Women who are pregnant or nursing their babies have different requirements.

B Vitamin



1.4 mcg


1.3 mg


400 mcg


5 mg


30 mcg


14-16 mg


1.2-1.1 mg


1.3-1.1 mg

A deficiency of one or more of the vitamin B complex can result in symptoms such as mental confusion, headaches, irritability, insomnia, unexplained fatigue, a lowered immune system, anemia, skin rashes, etc. The type of symptoms that appear will depend on which vitamin is lacking and the function it performs in the body.

What About Taking Vitamin B Complex Supplements?

If you opt for a vitamin B Complex supplement, ensure the product does not exceed the safe levels of these vitamins. Some of the B vitamins have no maximum level of intake because any excess is processed and excreted from the body. However, some of them like niacin, folate or B6 can have some adverse effects if taken in excess of the RDA.

An overdose may cause symptoms such as: stomach cramps, diarrhea, tingling, skin redness, seizures in extreme cases. Chronic overdose can lead to liver complications, gout, cardiac issues, high blood glucose levels, skin conditions, vision disturbances, etc.

It is important to remember that the vitamins may also interact with certain medications that you may be taking. Consult your doctor if you experience any unfamiliar effects and remember to mention that you are taking supplements.

Ways to Increase Your Vitamin B Intake

  • Eat a well-balanced diet to ensure you get sufficient levels of the B vitamins. The diet should include fish, like trout and salmon. Salmon, in particular, has high levels of 6 of the 8 B-vitamins.
  • Incorporate sunflower seeds into your dishes–this super-food also has about 6 of the B-vitamins you need.
  • Meat one of the vitamin B complex foods that is rich in most of the required B-vitamins.
  • Eggs and spinach make a great combination to boost your B-vitamin intake.
  • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation as it interferes with the vitamin absorption.
  • Minimize caffeine intake because it also interferes with vitamin absorption. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic causing dehydration and loss of the water-soluble B-vitamins.
  • Purchase a good quality commercially available Vitamin B Complex supplement. Remember, if you're taking other medication, mention to your doctor that you're also taking this supplement.