Vitamin B actually consists of 8 water-soluble vitamins that are known mostly as the “energy vitamins”. The complex is needed to help your body convert dietary carbohydrates, protein and fats to energy that you use to pump blood, nerve transmission, to beat your heart, digest food and to move. So, if you are finding yourself still tired after you eat, consider these 3 things:
- what you are eating
- food combinations
- are you getting enough B vitamins?
Before supplementation, I often aim to get in all the vitamins and minerals through real food. The B vitamins themselves don’t provide you with the the energy- they help you convert your food into energy for utilization. Some lifestyle factors, poor diet, medications and diseases can deplete B vitamins and vegetarians/vegans have to find alternative source of B12 as it is mostly found in animal or fortified products.
B vitamins are water soluble, which means they are not stored in our body and they have to be replenished on a daily basis. In times of illness, deficiency and stress, your body might need an extra boost of the B’s, paticularly B12. This is where you might see the Naturopath for a B12 shot, and some fancy hotels offer them as a hangover cure. And, deficiencies in the B’s can lead to depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, birth defects, and fatigue. (pg 487, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray and Pizzorno)
Alternatively, here are foods and recipes rich in the B’s to keep up your well-oiled machine, plus a recipe for a super B12 plant-based food for our vegetarian and vegan friends:
B6: Pyridoxine for glycogen production which is your body’s energy storage for times of hunger. Find it in bananas, tempeh, chickpeas, pistachios, lentils, and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for roasted chickpeas.
B3: Niacin for metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Find it in meat, cheese, oats, portobello mushrooms, tuna and pumpkin. Bonus: Try this dairy alternative recipe for oat milk.
B1: Thiamine for metabolism of protein and fat. Find it in soybeans, green peas, oats, lentils and sunflower seeds. Bonus: Try sprinkling sunflower seeds on your salads.
B2: Riboflavin works with the other B’s for enzyme reactions and metabolism. Find it in eggs, organ meat, soy, dairy, spinach and mushrooms. Bonus: Try adding spinach to your daily smoothies.
Folate: for DNA and RNA production, and red blood cell formation. Find it in spinach, soybeans, asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, organ meats and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for a bean-packed, vegetarian chili.
B5: Pantothenic Acid for brain nerve transmission, mental and physical stress and anxiety, sex and stress hormone production, and healthy skin and hair. Find it in milk, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, portobello mushrooms and broccoli. Bonus: Try using portobello mushrooms in place of burger buns for the ultimate veggie burger.
B12: Cobalamin for DNA formation, nerve transmission and blood cells. Find it in milk, meat, cheese, fortified soy products, avocado and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try the spicy fried tofu recipe below, made with nutritional yeast.
In a bowl, combine
- 2 Tbls flour (I used rice flour)
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 2 Tblsp nutritional yeast (a I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- pinch sea salt
- cracked pepper to taste
Press out moisture from a brick of extra firm, non-GMO tofu (I used Soyganic by Sunrise-Soya), slice into pieces and roll into flour mixture
Fry coated pieces in a small pan with coconut oil until golden! .
Use as a side dish, crumble up on salads, add to wraps…how would you use it?
Share your B vitamin dishes with us on Instagram 🙂
Here’s to an energy-packed day from whole foods,
Jen Casey, Next Bite Nutrition