Vitamins are chemical compounds which the body doesn’t produce itself and so must be gained from proper nutrition.
In today’s world, vitamin B is something which many of you will be deficient in – this comes from a mixture of stress, malnutrition and additives and preservatives in the modern diet, such as toxins, refined sugars, drugs, and general malnutrition and modern cooking techniques and shortcuts.
Vitamin B isn’t a single compound, but a complex of a number of vitamins that exist in one family. They probably shouldn’t be taken individually, but are great to take in combination.
Being deficient in vitamin B can lead to things like anaemia and some neurological disorders. You may also be at higher risk of heart attack and other coronary illnesses, as vitamin B plays a key role in keeping a substance called homocysteine in check. High levels of homocysteine can make your blood more prone to clotting which can lead to higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
Thankfully any damage from a vitamin B deficiency is normally reversible when nutrition is corrected.
The issue for vegetarians and vegans can be that the best sources of vitamin B are animal products. Liver, lean meats, eggs and dairy, probably in that order, are rich in vitamin B both in terms of quality and quantity.
Plant based foods usually contain little, if any, active vitamin B. Organic produce will be slightly better than commercially grown ‘standard’ produce.
There are some great vegan sources of vitamin B which, although still not quite as rich as animal produce, can still help you avoid any deficiency. These include potatoes, bananas, spinach, soy beans, wheat germ, melon & cantaloupe, bok choy, avocado, sunflower seeds, turnip & collard greens.
You can add in some supplements and probiotics to help, but even in this, some products will be more effective and work better than others.
Other vitamin B sources that are vegan friendly include green leafy vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal and barley and also beans and lentils.
Photo by Colin Dunn