Vitamin ABCs

It’s All About the B, and It’s Complex.

Vitamin Bs are closely related, they compliment each other, they substitute work for each other, and they are involved in many of the very complex cellular functions. 

What are the different B vitamins?

  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is present on the coating of rice and found in abundance in Brewer’s Yeast, wheat germ, soybeans, enriched breads, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pork roast. It is an essential vitamin for proper nerve function, and a deficiency can cause neuritis, paralysis, muscle atrophy, fatigue, los of weight and appetite, and depression. Fortunately, once thiamine is administered, the body bounces back almost instantly.* 

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) is found in abundance in Brewer’s Yeast, beef liver/heart/kidney, almonds, squid, and some breads like pumpernickel and enriched Italian breads. A deficiency can cause inflammation of tissue in the mouth, mouth sores at the corners, visual fatigue, sandy feeling eyes, sensitivity to bright light, and Seborrhea

  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) is essential for health skin, nerves, and the digestive tract. Foods that contain higher levels of niacin are almonds, peanuts, enriched breads, tuna, broiled chicken, and Brewer’s Yeast. Deficiency can produce canker sores, fatigue, indigestion, and Pellagra. The good news, you don’t need very much to be effective.

  • Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) is involved in many enzyme systems. Lack of this vitamin can bring on apathy, depression, istability of heart rhyme, digestive disease, abdominal pain, impaired function of the adrenal gland, “pins and needles’ nerve disorder, and muscle weakness.  If you are adventurous, try a little brains in your diet, from any domestic animal. Other more common foods high in Pantothenic acid are trout, hazelnuts, lentils, broccoli, peas, peanuts, turkey, mushrooms, whey, and Brewer’s yeast.

  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) contributes to overall good health due to its involvement in more than 100 enzyme reactions most often related to protein metabolization. It has been used to help anemia, skin & nerve disorders, seizures in infants, and mental health issues.  Foods plentiful with this vitamin are seeds, wholegrain, wheat germ, bran, Brewer’s yeast, fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes (starchy vegetables), and fruit.

  • Folate (Folic acid-Vitamin B9) is a vitamin that binds with enzymes to help make DNA, RNA and amino acids and is needed for the very important process of cell division. Individuals deficient in folate will develop anemia, intestinal disturbances, inflammation of tissues in the mouth, gland, blood, sprue disorders, and autism. Foods that a rich in folate are dark leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs, seafood, and grains. 

  • Choline is essential for pregnant and lactating moms, as it protects against abnormalities in pregnancy and lactation. Why? Maybe because it helps your body use fats properly, (Vitamins in Medicine by Bricknell and Prescott). Lack this vitamin in your diet, and you may experience anemia, heart & circulatory disease, liver disease, and muscle weakness. It can also be made in your intestine, under the right conditions, aka healthy diet. Good food sources for this vitamin can be found in meats, wheat germ, eggs, salmon, scallops, broccoli, milk, seeds and peanuts.

  • Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Slight deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. The vitamin was not present in fruits, vegetables, and grains. It was only found in foods of animal origin like beef, cheese, eggs, ham, seafood and milk, but now foods like cereal and tofu are fortified with this vitamin making it esier for vegetarians to achieve a balanced diet.

How much is recommended?

Table 1: Recommended Daily Allowances for Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 0.2mg** 0.2mg**
7-12 months 0.3mg** 0.3mg**
1-3 years 0.5mg 0.5mg
4-8 years 0.6mg 0.6mg
9-13 years 0.9mg 0.9mg
14-18 years 1.2mg 1.0mg 1.4mg 1.4mg
19-50 years 1.2mg 1.1mg 1.4mg 1.4mg
51+ years 1.2mg 1.1mg

Table 2: Recommended Daily Allowances for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months 0.3mg** 0.3mg**
7-12 months 0.4mg** 0.4mg**
1-3 years 0.5mg 0.5mg
4-8 years 0.6mg 0.6mg
9-13 years 0.9mg 0.9mg
14-18 years 1.3mg 1.0mg 1.4mg 1.6mg
19+ years 1.3mg 1.1mg 1.4mg 1.6mg

Table 3: Recommended Daily Allowances for Niacin (Vitamin B3)                                                                            (*NE, niacin equivalent: 1 mg NE = 60 mg of tryptophan = 1 mg niacin)

Age Male (NE/day) Female (NE/day) Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months 2mg** 2mg**
7-12 months 4mg** 4mg**
1-3 years 6mg 6mg
4-8 years 8mg 8mg
9-13 years 12mg 12mg
14-18 years 16mg 14mg 18mg 17mg
19+ years 16mg 14mg 18mg 17mg

Table 4: Adequate Intake (AI)** for Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 months 1.7mg 1.7mg
7-12 months 1.8mg 1.8mg
1-3 years 2mg 2mg
4-8 years 3mg 3mg
9-13 years 4mg 4mg
14-18 years 5 5mg 5mg 6mg 7mg
19+ years 5mg 5mg 6mg 7mg

Table 5: Recommended Daily Allowances for Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 0.1mg** 0.1mg**
7-12 months 0.3mg** 0.3mg**
1-3 years 0.5mg 0.5mg
4-8 yeaers 0.6mg 0.6mg
9-13 years 1.0mg 1.0mg
14-18 years 1.3mg 1.2mg 1.9mg 2.0mg
19-50 years 1.3mg 1.3mg 1.9mg 2.0mg
51+ years 1.7mg 1.5mg

Table 6: Recommended Daily Allowances for Folate (Vitamin B9) from food source

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 65μg** 65μg**
7-12 months 80μg** 80μg**
1-3 years 150μg 150μg
4-8 years 200μg 200μg
9-13 years 300μg 300μg
14-18 years 400μg 400μg 600μg 500μg
19+ years 400μg 400μg 600μg 500μg

Table 7: Adequate Intake (AI)** for Choline

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-6 mo 125mg 125mg
7-12 mo 150mg 150mg
1-3 years 200mg 200mg
4-8 years 250mg 250mg
9-13 years 375mg 375mg
14-18 years 550mg 400mg 450mg 550mg
19+ years 550mg 425mg 450mg 550mg

Table 8: Recommended Daily Allowances for Vitamin B12

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 0.4μg** 0.4μg**
7-12 months 0.5μg** 0.5μg**
1-3 years 0.9μg 0.9μg
4-8 yeaers 1.2μg 1.2μg
9-13 years 1.8μg 1.8μg
14+ years 2.4μg 2.4μg 2.6μg 2.8μg

“The one lesson to be learned from studying the vitamins is the lesson our food technologists have never learned and apparently are incapable of learning. Nature likes things whole. Nothing worthwhile is achieved in nature with fragments. Removing all the B vitamins from our wholegrain cereals and flour then returning only bits of three of them is probably the worst possible thing we could do, for the imbalances thus created are complex. All the B vitamins work together.” Ruth Adams form The Complete Home Guide to All the Vitamins. 

The interesting find about all the foods listed above, everyone of them contains some level of all the vitamin Bs. The featured foods listed under each vitamin B are items with the highest quantity, and if you ate any of the foods listed, you would get some level of all the B vitamins. 


** Established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, the AI is a recommended intake value based on observed or experimentally determined estimates of nutrient intake by a group of healthy people that are assumed to be adequate. An AI is established when an RDA cannot be determined due to existing scientific evidence being insufficient to calculate an RDA.