15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins (2024)

Many foods are high in B vitamins, including certain types of meat, fish, and poultry, legumes, seeds, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens.

There are eight B vitamins — collectively called B complex vitamins.

These include:

  • thiamine (B1)
  • riboflavin (B2)
  • niacin (B3)
  • pantothenic acid (B5)
  • pyridoxine (B6)
  • biotin (B7)
  • folate (B9)
  • cobalamin (B12)

Though each of these vitamins has unique functions, they generally help your body produce energy and make important molecules in your cells (1).

Aside from B12, your body cannot store these vitamins for long periods, so you have to replenish them regularly through food (1).

Many foods provide B vitamins, but to be considered high in a vitamin, a food must contain at least 20% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) per serving. Alternatively, a food that contains 10%–19% of the RDI is considered a good source (2).

Here are 15 healthy foods high in one or more B vitamins.

15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins (1)Share on Pinterest

This all-around nutritious fish is high in several B vitamins. In fact, a 3.5-ounce (oz), or 100-gram (g), cooked serving of salmon contains (3):

  • Thiamine (B1): 23% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Riboflavin (B2): 37% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 63% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 38% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 56% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 127% of the DV

Additionally, salmon is a low mercury fish that is high in beneficial omega-3 fats, as well as protein and selenium (4).

summary

Salmon is high in riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, as well as a good source of thiamine
and pantothenic acid. Additionally, it’s low in mercury and high in omega-3 fats and protein.

Several leafy greens stand out for their folate (B9) content. These are among the highest vegetable sources of folate (5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

  • Spinach, raw: 12% of the DV in 1 cup (25 g)
  • Spinach, cooked: 39% of the DV in a 1/2 cup (90 g)
  • Collard greens, cooked: 17% of the DV in 1/2 cup (65 g)
  • Turnip greens, cooked: 21% of the DV in 1/2 cup (73 g)
  • Romaine lettuce, raw: 3% of the DV in 1 cup (35 g)

Notably, some folate is destroyed by heat during cooking, and some can transfer to the cooking water as well. To minimize folate loss during cooking, steam the greens until partway between tender and crisp (10, 11).

summary

Leafy greens, especially spinach, collards, turnip greens, and romaine lettuce, are among the best vegetable sources of folate. Enjoy them raw or steam them briefly to retain the most folate.

Though not especially popular, organ meats — especially liver — are packed with B vitamins. This is true whether they’re from beef, pork, lamb, or chicken (12, 13, 14, 15).

For example, a 3.5-oz (100-g) serving of beef liver contains (12):

  • Thiamine (B1): 15% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 263% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 109% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 139% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 61% of the DV
  • Biotin (B7): 139% of the DV
  • Folate (B9): 63% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 2,917% of the DV

If you’re unaccustomed to liver’s strong flavor or view organ meats as unappetizing, try them ground and mixed with traditional cuts of ground meat. You can also try adding them to highly seasoned foods, such as chili.

summary

Organ meats — particularly liver — are high in most B vitamins. To make liver more palatable, grind it with common cuts of meat or use it in highly seasoned food.

One large egg contains 35% of the DV for biotin distributed between the yolk and white. In fact, eggs are one of the top sources of biotin — only liver contains more (16, 17).

Eggs also contain smaller amounts of other B vitamins. One large (50-g) cooked egg contains (17):

  • Riboflavin (B2): 20% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 14% of the DV
  • Biotin (B7): 35% of the DV
  • Folate (B9): 6% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 23% of the DV

Bear in mind that raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds with biotin and prevents its absorption in your gut if you regularly eat a lot of raw egg whites. Cooking eggs inactivates avidin and reduces food safety risks (16).

If you don’t eat eggs, meat, or other animals products, you can meet your biotin needs by consuming foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, which all contain small amounts of biotin (16).

summary

Eggs are a top source of biotin, second only to liver. They supply 35% of the DV for biotin per whole, cooked egg.

Each cup, or 240 milliliters (mL), of milk provides 26% of the DV for riboflavin, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins, including (18):

  • Thiamine (B1): 9% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 32% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 18% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 46% of the DV

Unsurprisingly, studies indicate that milk and other dairy products are generally people’s top source of riboflavin, followed by meat and grains (19, 20).

For example, in an older observational study in more than 36,000 adults in Europe, dairy products supplied 22%–52% of the riboflavin in people’s diets (20).

Like other animal products, milk also is a good source of B12, supplying 46% of the DV per 1-cup (240-mL) serving (18).

What’s more, vitamin B12 is well-absorbed from milk and other dairy products, with an absorption rate of 65% (21).

summary

Milk and other dairy products pack about one-third of your daily riboflavin requirement in just 1 cup (240 mL). Milk is also a good source of well-absorbed B12.

Beef can make a big contribution to your B vitamin intake.

In an observational study of eating habits in about 2,000 people in Spain, meat and meat products were the main sources of thiamine, niacin, and pyridoxine (19).

Here’s the amount of B vitamins in a 3.5-oz (100-g) cut of sirloin steak, which is about half the size of the smallest steak typically served in restaurants (22):

  • Thiamine (B1): 7% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 11% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 49% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 12% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 36% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 72% of the DV
summary

Beef boasts high amounts of B3, B6, and B12. A 3.5-oz (100-g) serving supplies about one-third of the DV for each of these vitamins, in addition to smaller amounts of other B vitamins

Oysters, clams and mussels are a stellar source of B12 and an excellent source of riboflavin. They also supply smaller amounts of thiamine, niacin, and folate.

A 3.5-oz (100-g) cooked serving of each provides (23, 24, 25):

B vitaminsOystersClamsBlue mussels
Thiamine (B1)11% of the DV13% of the DV25% of the DV
Riboflavin (B2)34% of the DV33% of the DV32% of the DV
Niacin (B3)23% of the DV21% of the DV19% of the DV
Folate (B9)4% of the DV7% of the DV19% of the DV
Cobalamin (B12)1,200% of the DV4,121% of the DV1,000% of the DV

These shellfish are also high in protein and several minerals, including iron, zinc, selenium, and manganese. They’re a good source of omega-3 fats as well (23, 24, 25).

summary

Oysters, clams, and mussels are a great source of vitamin B12. They’re also high in riboflavin and provide smaller amounts of thiamine, niacin, and folate.

8. Legumes

Legumes are most notable for their high folate content. They also provide small amounts of other B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and B6.

Here is the folate content of a 1/2-cup cooked serving of some commonly eaten legumes (26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33):

  • Black beans: 32% of the DV
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): 35% of the DV
  • Edamame (green soybeans): 60% of the DV
  • Green peas: 12% of the DV
  • Kidney beans: 29% of the DV
  • Lentils: 45% of the DV
  • Pinto beans: 37% of the DV
  • Roasted soy nuts: 24% of the DV

Folate — or its synthetic form folic acid — is important for reducing the risk of certain birth defects. Note that the DV percentages above are based on an RDI of 400 micrograms (mcg), but pregnant people need 600 mcg daily (34).

summary

Most legumes — such as pinto beans, black beans, and lentils — are high in folate, a B vitamin important for reducing the risk of certain birth defects.

9. Chicken and turkey

Chicken and turkey are most notable for their niacin and pyridoxine content. White meat — such as the breast — supplies more of these two vitamins than dark meat — such as the thigh — as shown in the table below.

A 3.5-oz (100-g) serving of cooked, skinless chicken or turkey provides (35, 36, 37, 38):

B vitaminsChicken breastTurkey breastChicken, dark meatTurkey, dark meat
Riboflavin (B2)9% of the DV16% of the DV17% of the DV29% of the DV
Niacin (B3)86% of the DV74% of the DV41% of the DV42% of the DV
Pantothenic acid (B5)19% of the DV18% of the DV24% of the DV20% of the DV
Pyridoxine (B6)35% of the DV47% of the DV21% of the DV26% of the DV
Cobalamin (B12)14% of the DV16% of the DV13% of the DV69% of the DV

If you skip fatty poultry skin to cut calories, don’t worry — most of the B vitamins are in the meat rather than the skin (39, 40).

summary

Chicken and turkey, especially the white meat portions, are high in B3 and B6. Poultry also supplies smaller amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and cobalamin. Most of the nutrients are in the meat, not the skin.

10. Yogurt

Yogurt is notable for its riboflavin and B12 content. Though nutrition varies by brand, a 2/3-cup (96–163 g) serving of yogurt averages (41, 42, 43, 44):

B vitaminsPlain yogurtVanilla yogurtPlain Greek yogurtFrozen vanilla yogurt
Riboflavin (B2)18% of the DV26% of the DV36% of the DV20% of the DV
Cobalamin (B12)26% of the DV35% of the DV53% of the DV11% of the DV

Keep in mind that when flavored, most frozen and refrigerated yogurts also contain 3–4 teaspoons (5 g) of added sugars per 2/3-cup (96–163 g) serving, so enjoy them in moderation (41, 42, 43, 44).

Stores also sell many non-dairy yogurt alternatives, such as fermented soy, almond, or coconut yogurts. However, these products — unless fortified — generally aren’t good sources of riboflavin or B12 (45, 46).

summary

Yogurt is naturally high in B2 and B12, but non-dairy yogurt alternatives aren’t good sources of these vitamins unless they’re fortified. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened yogurt.

Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast are inactive, meaning you can’t use them to make bread. Rather, people use them to boost the flavor and nutrient profile of dishes.

These yeasts naturally contain B vitamins and are often fortified with them as well — particularly nutritional yeast. If nutrients are added, you’ll see them listed in the ingredients on the label.

Here’s how the two yeasts compare based on a 2-tablespoon (7.5 g or 24 g) serving, though these values vary by brand (47, 48):

B vitaminsNutritional yeastBrewer’s yeast
Thiamine (B1)492% of the DV220% of the DV
Riboflavin (B2)373% of the DV73% of the DV
Niacin (B3)144% of the DV60% of the DV
Pyridoxine (B6)176% of the DV21% of the DV
Folate (B9)135% of the DV141% of the DV
Cobalamin (B12)363% of the DV1% of the DV

People following a vegetarian or vegan diet commonly use nutritional yeast, as it’s fortified with B12, which is challenging to obtain if you don’t eat animal products (49).

The nutty-cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast also makes it popular as a seasoning. Brewer’s yeast, however, can taste bitter and may be better mixed into foods like smoothies, salad dressing, or soup.

summary

Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast pack a high amount of B vitamins, but a significant portion of the vitamins in nutritional yeast (including B12) are added. These products can be used to add flavor or nutrients to other foods.

Like other common meats, pork is packed with several B vitamins. It’s especially notable for its high amount of thiamine, of which beef provides little.

A 3.5-oz (100-g) pork loin chop provides (50):

  • Thiamine (B1): 55% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 22% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 55% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 26% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 35% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 31% of the DV

If you’re trying to lose weight, opt for loin cuts, which are lower in fat and calories than shoulder cuts (commonly used for pulled pork), spareribs, and bacon (51).

summary

Pork is especially high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B6. Pork loin cuts are much leaner and lower in calories than shoulder cuts, spareribs, and bacon.

Breakfast cereals often contain added vitamins, including B vitamins. Check for them in the ingredients list (52).

The B vitamins most commonly added to cereal are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate (as synthetic folic acid), and B12. Amounts found in a 1-cup (28–61 g) serving of a few popular brands — namely, Cheerios and Wheaties by General Mills and Raisin Bran by Kellogg’s — are (53, 54, 55):

B vitaminsCheeriosWheatiesRaisin Bran
Thiamine (B1)30% of the DV84% of the DV38% of the DV
Riboflavin (B2)2% of the DV86% of the DV51% of the DV
Niacin (B3)31% of the DV83% of the DV53% of the DV
Pyridoxine (B6)29% of the DV78% of the DV66% of the DV
Folate (B9)84% of the DV112% of the DV50% of the DV
Cobalamin (B12)79% of the DV167% of the DV51% of the DV

Keep in mind that many fortified breakfast cereals are high in added sugars and refined grains. Select a product with less than 5 g of sugar per serving and a whole grain — such as whole wheat or whole oats — listed as the first ingredient.

summary

Breakfast cereals often have added thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, B6, and B12. Some contain up to 100% of the DV for these vitamins. Still, it’s important to choose cereals made with whole grains and minimal sugar.

Trout, a freshwater fish, is closely related to salmon and high in several B vitamins.

A 3.5-oz (100-g) cooked serving of trout provides (56):

  • Thiamine (B1): 12% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 8% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 42% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 40% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 23% of the DV
  • Cobalamin (B12): 171% of the DV

Additionally, trout is an excellent source of protein, rich in omega-3 fats, and low in mercury (4, 56).

summary

Trout is high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12. It also contains ample protein and omega-3 fats.

Sunflower seeds are one of the best plant sources of pantothenic acid. This B vitamin gets its name from the Greek word “pantos,” meaning “everywhere,” because it’s found in most plant and animal foods, though usually only in small amounts (57).

Remarkably, 1 oz (28 g) of sunflower seeds packs 40% of the DV for pantothenic acid. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of niacin, folate, and B6 (58).

Sunflower seed butter, which is popular among people with nut allergies, provides some pantothenic acid as well (59).

Here’s a comparison of the B vitamin contents of 1 oz (28 g) of sunflower seeds and 2 tablespoons (32 g) of sunflower seed butter (58, 59):

B vitaminsSunflower seedsSunflower seed butter
Niacin (B3)13% of the DV1% of the DV
Pyridoxine (B6)40% of the DV4% of the DV
Pantothenic acid (B5)13% of the DV14% of the DV
Folate (B9)17% of the DV19% of the DV
summary

Sunflower seeds and their butter are among the highest plant sources of pantothenic acid, a B vitamin found only in small amounts in most foods.

Consuming adequate amounts of the eight B complex vitamins puts you on the path to a nutritious diet.

Some top sources of B vitamins include meat (especially liver), seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, leafy greens, seeds, and fortified foods, such as breakfast cereal and nutritional yeast.

If you restrict your intake from some food groups due to allergies or diet, your chances of B vitamin deficiencies may increase.

If you wonder whether you’re getting enough B vitamins, try a free online program to track and analyze your food intake throughout the week. You can then adjust your eating habits to ensure you’re getting the vitamins you need.

15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins (2024)
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