Originally considered one vitamin, the B-vitamin group is actually diverse in their makeup and function. The most common B-vitamins – B1 or thiamin, B2 or riboflavin, niacin, B6 or pyridoxine and B12 – are essential for supporting your body’s metabolism rate, producing energy and aiding your body in fighting disease and infection.
Research shows folate (folic acid), another important component of the B-vitamins, is important for a healthy pregnancy, reducing your risk of serious birth defects of the spine and brain, also known as neural tube defects. Easing folic acid into your eating plan is easy: the delicious way is by eating folate-rich foods. Since 1998, enriched bread, cereal, pasta, flour, crackers and rice have been fortified with folic acid. You probably already eat some foods that have folate because many fruits and vegetables, like oranges and avocado, are an excellent source of this vitamin.
Good sources of B-vitamins and folate include:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): Pork, green peas and whole-grain and enriched-grain products like bread, rice, pasta, tortillas and fortified cereals
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Milk and dairy foods, enriched bread and other grain products, salmon, chicken, eggs and leafy green vegetables like spinach
- Niacin: High-protein foods like peanut butter, beans, beef, poultry, fish, avocado and enriched and fortified grain products
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Baked potato, banana, beef, fortified cereals, whole grains, nuts, beans, pork, chicken and fish
- Vitamin B12: Milk and dairy foods, meat, fish (especially salmon), poultry and eggs
- Folate: Orange juice, spinach, Romaine lettuce, broccoli, peanuts, avocado, enriched-grain products and fortified breakfast cereals.
Reviewed January 2013