Food & Fitness

A Crash Course in B Vitamins: Part Two

Yesterday, on Day 24 of the Raw Food Challenge, I ate:

– 1 banana with walnut butter and 1 mug green tea

– 1 1/2 cups veggie medley (frozen corn/carrots/peas/green beans that I thawed in warm water) and 1 mug green tea

– 1 apple with 1 mug green tea

– Salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, lentil sprouts, clover/alfalfa/mustard/radish sprouts, tomato, and hemp seeds, plus 1 mug green tea

– Chocolate ice cream (1 frozen banana, 1 tsp cacao powder, lots of cinnamon blended in the food processor) and a few spoonfuls of chocolate cake. The “cake” was a concoction that I made which is sort of halfway between the brownie and the ice cream- it’s not so dense that it’s a brownie, not so creamy that it’s ice cream. Hence, cake! I made it with 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/4 cup dates, 2 heaping tsp cacao powder, plenty of cinnamon, and 1/2 frozen banana. Not too bad, but not as good as the brownie ๐Ÿ˜€

– 3 carrots, dehydrated squash “rice” and some zucchini chips, plus some dehydrated/seasoned sunflower seeds, with 1 mug herbal tea

– The rest of the cake, 1 carrot, and some romaine lettuce leaves

– A few pieces frozen banana and some frozen blueberries, plus 1/2 apple with sunflower seed butter and some frozen peas

– 1 glass lemon water with 1/2 scoop calcium/magnesium powder

For the last seven days of my Raw Food Challenge, I have decided at Mona’s suggestion to go nut-free! I feel as though I’ve been overdoing it on the nuts, and also I’ve ran out of nuts in my pantry, so I’m going to try a nut-free raw vegan diet for the next seven days (because clearly going raw wasn’t enough of a challenge… ha!). I’m also going to focus on increasing my intake of vegetables, because I think that I have been neglecting my greens a bit.

A Crash Course in B Vitamins (Part Two)

Check out A Crash Course in B Vitamins: Part One if you missed it!

Continuing with our research on B Vitamins, today we are looking at Vitamin B5, B6, B9, and B12. These are especially the ones that my nutritionist encouraged me to attend to, so I have an increased interest in them.

Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 supports the nervous system and helps to manufacture both insulin and antibodies that fight infection. It also aids with digestion and breaks down starches and sugars in our bodies. Deficiencies in vitamin B6 primarily lead to skin infections but can also involve fatigue and weakness. The reason why vitamin B6 deficiency affects the skin is that this vitamin is involved in forming cells and body tissue.

In Part One, I mentioned that with B vitamins we don’t have to be as concerned about reaching toxicity levels, but we should be careful if we are taking supplements. There can be too much of a good thing! Although it’s highly unlikely that we’ll consume too much vitamin B6 in our diet, if we take a vitamin B6 supplement and reach toxic levels of the nutrient, it can result in an imbalanced nervous system.

Vitamin B6 is easily damaged from heating and freezing, so it is best to eat these foods raw; if that is not possible, then it will be best to eat high quantities of the food in its cooked form. Foods high in vitamin B6 include bananas, spinach, bell peppers, garlic, and yellowfin tuna.

Vitamin B7: More commonly known as biotin, vitamin B7 converts the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) into usable forms of energy. Therefore, it metabolizes sugar and fat! By doing this, it maintains cell energy and supports healthy skin. When we don’t get enough vitamin B7, we may run into such issues as hair loss and muscle and skin problems. Vitamin B7 also combats high levels of cholesterol, which is a problem for many people eating the Standard American Diet.

This is a stable nutrient that won’t be affected very much by cooking or processing. However, egg yolks- one of the most concentrated forms of vitamin B7- cannot be absorbed by our bodies unless it’s cooked. Fascinating! This is yet more evidence for my increasing conviction that we benefit from eating a combination of raw and cooked foods. Other high sources of this vitamin can be found in Swiss chard, carrots, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes. I found this to be particularly interesting for myself because I happen to eat high quantities of all of those foods (except Swiss chard), as well as almonds and oats (which are also good sources of vitamin B7). I wonder if that’s an indication that my body is wanting more vitamin B7?

Vitamin B9: More commonly known as folate or folic acid, vitamin B9 is essential for the growth and development of new cells. It prevents anemia, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis. When we eat too little vitamin B9, we feel fatigued, depressed, and may suffer from insomnia. Symptoms are similar when we consume too much vitamin B9, but it is unlikely that we will reach toxicity levels unless we are carelessly taking too high a dose of a supplement in addition to our regular diet.

This vitamin can be cooked without negative impact when it is from an animal product, but it may not be as well absorbed if we cook or process plant-based foods. Therefore it is advisable to eat this nutrient raw when it’s in plant-form. Foods high in vitamin B9 include corn, asparagus, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, wheat germ, and lentils.

Vitamin B12: Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is required for growth and development, prevents anemia, and metabolizes the macronutrients. It also contributes to the proper functioning of the nervous system. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, mental confusion, depression, and heart and memory problems.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. I have heard conflicting information that alfalfa , clover, and sea vegetables contain vitamin B12, but I have not come across any hard evidence of this. Vitamin B12 stays in our bodies for years, so vegans may not be aware that they are deficient until years down the road. If you are on a strictly vegan diet, it’s a good idea to take a vitamin B12 supplement. Myself, I prefer to include eggs and the occasional seafood or meat in my diet, as opposed to taking a supplement, but that is personal preference. Another option is to consume nutritional yeast fortified with vitamin B12, or fermented plant foods such as miso or tempeh. Food sources high in vitamin B12 include shrimp, scallops, salmon, beef, and eggs.

This concludes our Crash Course in B Vitamins! If you have any questions or thoughts, just leave them in the comments.

If you would like to learn about tricks that restaurant menus use to lure you into buying specific items, check out my most recent article about it at Living Rhetorically in the Real World!

Vitamin B7 on FoodistaVitamin B7


  1. Sagan Morrow

    Tracey- I forgot to mention that for the last seven days I’m also forgoing adding salt to anything. ChallengechallengechallengeFUN!

    Gina- People ask me nutrition-related questions all the time, and considering the amount of research I do, I feel as though I SHOULD be able to be a walking textbook… but so often I have to tell them that I’ll look into their question and get back to them. No matter how passionate we might be on a subject, we can’t know ALL of it off the top of our heads ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cammy- You know it. “Living Stylishly Healthy in the Real World” ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. Sagan Morrow

    Diane- If you enjoy it, I”ll probably do the same for some other important nutrients in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yum Yucky- I also like the veggie medley with freshly ground pepper on top. I love the mixture of peas/corn/carrots because it’s nice and sweet!

    Charlotte- You’ll LOVE it. So tasty! You could also do the same with making lemon ice cream (add a squeeze of lemon instead of cacao powder), or you could add frozen berries instead of the cacao for a fruity sorbet.

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