The term "vitamin B" actually refers to a family of eight distinct vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). A balanced diet containing a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is usually sufficient to meet the average adult's daily requirements for each vitamin. Keep in mind, however, that B12 is found naturally only in animal sources, including milk, yogurt, and egg yolks. If you are not a big meat or dairy fan, it is important to obtain B12 from a supplement or from fortified foods such as cereal and soy milk.
Want to make sure you are getting all your B's? Give your diet a healthy boost with these vitamin B-rich foods and delicious recipes:
The Humble Potato: Baked potatoes provide more than 35% of your daily B6 requirement per serving (about the size of a computer mouse)--make sure to include the skins for extra fiber and potassium.
Garlicky Roasted Potatoes with Herbs
Go Green: Broccoli and leafy greens like spinach are rich in folate, which is essential for cell development. Asparagus is also an excellent source, with just 4 spears providing 20% the daily recommended amount of folate. Toss these veggies with your favorite pasta or stir-fry, use as a pizza topping, or showcase in these flavorful side dishes:
Garlicky Lemon Broccoli
Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
B-Filled Beans: Legumes include everything from lentils and dried beans, to peas and peanuts. They are great sources of vitamin B, as well as iron, magnesium, and fiber. One serving (1/2-cup) of chickpeas provides 30% of your daily value for folate, and they are featured in this Middle Eastern-inspired meal:
Baked Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce
Winter Squash: The brightly-colored flesh of these vegetables contains several B vitamins, as well as high amounts of potassium and vitamins A and C. Roast varieties such as butternut, spaghetti, and acorn to maximize their sweet and nutty flavors.
Velvety Squash Soup
Pork: One 3-oz serving (about the size of a deck of cards) of lean pork has over half the recommended daily amount of thiamine, which aids in metabolism and heart function, along with significant amounts of B6 and B12. Try this pork tenderloin infused with fresh herbs for a quick and tasty dinner:
Pork Tenderloin Studded with Rosemary and Garlic
Fish and Seafood: Three ounces of clams (approximately 20 small) contain more than 10 times the daily recommended amount of B12, which is essential for proper nervous system function, while one 3-oz serving of salmon or rainbow trout provides nearly 100% of your daily B12 needs. Get an antioxidant bonus from the tomatoes featured in each of these recipes:
Fettucine with Clams and Tomato Sauce
Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Sunflower Seeds: These tiny kernels are jam-packed with folate and B6, as well as nearly two-thirds the daily requirement for vitamin E in one ounce. Munch on roasted sunflower seeds as a snack, sprinkle on oatmeal, or add to muffins and other baked goods like this hearty whole-grain bread:
Whole Wheat Sunflower Oat Bread
Avocados: Not only are avocados rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, but 1/2-cup provides 10% of the daily value for both folate and B6. Throw a few slices on your favorite sandwich, use as a base for creamy salad dressing, or enjoy in this versatile salsa recipe: