Getting back to basics

Although I love writing about the food I make and the latest nutrition news, sometimes it's good to get back to basics, so today I bring you a little recap on the B vitamins.

Vitamin B is not a single vitamin, but rather a group of chemically-similar compounds that have different roles in the body but whose functions are inter-connected. The B vitamins are water-soluble. Vitamin C is also water-soluble and what this means is that our bodies do not store these vitamins, so we need to get them from our diet each day.

The B vitamins have roles in the body in supporting energy production, enzyme formation, metabolism of food and maintenance of healthy body tissues. B vitamins are found in a wide variety of different foods, and it is rare to see an isolated deficiency of any one of them. The exception being vitamin B12 which is found mainly in animal-based foods. For this reason, vegans are recommended to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Although one can purchase the B vitamins individually, if a deficiency is suspected, a vitamin B complex (containing all the B vitamins) is often recommended.

People who might be at risk of B-vitamin deficiency include people on poor diets, those with a high alcohol intake, people with increased requirements (e.g. pregnant, breast-feeding, growing children), those on long-term medications and those with a mental health condition.

You can see that each B vitamin can be obtained from many different sources, so if you don’t like a particular food there is always an alternative. I always advise my clients to eat a wide variety of different vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and animal foods (chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy), so that they can get as many different nutrients as possible.