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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Super Nutrient of the Week: B Vitamins

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Foods that contain B vitaminsMany people toss the term “B vitamins” around without true knowledge of these powerhouse nutrients! What many people don’t know is that there are 8 vitamins designated as B vitamins, which include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folate (B9), and B12. These eight nutrients are known for their role in chemical processes of the body. The B vitamins play a huge role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids. They also play a large role in heart health, brain/nervous system function, and also healthy skin and nails.

Athletes especially need to be sure they are consuming adequate amounts of B vitamins because during exercise many of the metabolic pathways dependent upon thiamine, riboflavin and B6 are stressed. Thiamine, for example, plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and energy metabolism. Thiamine (B1) is a key component in aerobic energy production. Riboflavin (B2) is directly associated with converting energy into ATP, a main energy source used during exercise.

B vitamins are often referred as the energy vitamins for this reason.  But you won’t be jumping off the walls with energy just by taking loads of supplemental B vitamins.  More is not necessarily better. 

B vitamins are water soluble which means that the body does not store them and they must be consumed through diet. Liver and red meat contain the richest sourced if the B vitamin group, but can also be found in fish, eggs, chickpeas, and dairy.

If you follow a vegetarian diet, some great sources to get this vitamin from are fortified or enriched foods, leafy greens, beans, lentils, peas, and nuts. One of my favorite go-to snacks is hummus either served with pita or raw veggies. Here is a quick and easy hummus recipe you can make to get some extra energy and B vitamins into your diet daily.

Traditional Hummus Recipe from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients. Blend on low until mixture is completely smooth. Add salt to taste, if desired. Place in a small bowl! Serve with whole wheat pita chips or bread or as a dip for vegetables like I do! See, it’s easy to get your B vitamins in daily!

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Tags: Healthy Eating

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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