Don't forget your a, B, c's – a reminder about the nutritional benefits of B vitamins

nutritional benefits of B vitaminsAt least once or twice a week I come across someone who tells me they are avoiding grains. It’s also all over social media. Rightly or wrongly so, there seems to be a movement across the globe to avoid all things gluten-ey, wheat-ey, oat-ey and even potato-ey (more on this another time).

Are you avoiding grains?  Did you know by cutting out this group of foods your intake of certain nutrients could be quite low? This could include fibre, B vitamins and carbohydrate.

Today I wanted to focus on the humble B vitamins – why? because our poor old vitamins seem to have been forgotten in the more recent media shenanigans about grains, sugar, carbs & saturated fats.

What actually is a vitamin?
Vitamins are organic molecules that can be found in either plants or animals. They are required to help the body perform certain reactions. Vitamins (and minerals) don’t fuel our body like carbs, fat and protein do. However they are pretty much essential for our bodies to function effectively.

What do we need B vitamins for? (what are the nutritional benefits of B vitamins?)
Well, one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE NEED THEM FOR IS to help create energy in our body. They are also involved with our skin health, vision, nervous system, digestive system and the production of red blood cells.

Let’s focus on the energy levels – the background info
In order for us to use energy from food, the food needs to be broken down into glucose and then converted into ATP.  ATP or Adenosine triphosphate is a form of energy that the cells of our body need to basically make us tick. Some of the B vitamins – particular B1, B2 and B3  assist in turning the energy from food into ATP.

What’s it feel like if you are lacking in some of these B vitamins?
Given their role in energy metabolism in our body, it’s pretty obvious if you aren’t getting enough of B1, 2 or 3 you will start to feel tired and run down. There are also many other different signs and symptoms if you have a deficiency in one of the B vitamins. For more info check out this fact sheet from the Better Health Channel.

Other cool stuff to know

  • B vitamins aren’t heat stable. That means cooking for long periods or at high temps. can reduce the amount in food
  • Alcohol also effects our metabolism of thiamin (B1) and reduces it’s absorption
  • B vitamins are water soluble. Meaning we pee them out when we have got what we need (the body can’t store them). Therefore it’s super important to keep up a really good regular intake of foods high in the B vitamins

So if you don’t eat grains, how do you get B1, 2 and 3?
Variety is the key. If you are also avoiding animal products you will find it a little tougher to maximise your intake of these B’s. As a rough guide:

  • B1 (thiamin) – can be found in legumes, nuts and seeds (particularly sesame) and pork.
  • B2 (riboflavin) – can be sourced from dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt), egg whites, meat and leafy greens
  • B3 (niacin) – can be sourced from meat, fish & chicken, nuts, mushrooms & legumes

 Summing it all up….
As always aim for a diet filled with regular meals and snacks with as much variety as possible….and…please don’t forget your B’s.

Anyways, hope you learnt something new :) Have a great week

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