The vitamin B complex – yes, there are several. This vitamin group consists of eight water-soluble vitamins, but they have very little to do with each other.
This starts with the fact that some are found in animal foods and others in plant foods. Vitamin B12 is one that is hardly available in plant foods. But it can be stored well.
If you eat vegan , there is at least one vitamin that is not so easy to get .
Let’s look at the vitamin B complex first. What vitamins are in there at all?
The vitamin B complex: These are the individual nutrients that belong to it.
We’re talking about B1 to B12 here, but it’s actually only eight vitamins. What happened here?
The gaps come from the fact that some substances were originally incorrectly named as vitamins. These were finally removed from the complex. However, the remaining ones are by no means the “rest”, but extremely important:
Vitamin B1: Thiamine
Here we have the first vitamin – literally! It was discovered over 100 years ago as the very first Vitamin ever. In the case of a deficiency, it comes to the disease Beriberi or also called sleep walk. Heart failure, muscle atrophy and also memory impairment are symptoms. Vitamin B1 or thiamine are essential for the nervous system.
Thiamine is very sensitive to heat, which destroys it during cooking. Likewise, like the other vitamins of the B complex, it is also water-soluble. A part is therefore lost in the cooking water.
Usually, in the production of white flour or white rice, the brown germ is removed. But exactly this contains everything about vitamin B1. Therefore, it is recommended to also eat wholemeal flour, brown rice or partially cooked (“parboiled”) rice .
In other countries – not in Germany – this is precisely why flour and rice are enriched with the vitamin.
Instead, the following forms of thiamine are approved as food supplements in the EU:
- Thiamine hydrochloride
- Thiamine monophosphate chloride
- Thiamine pyrophosphate chloride
Vitamin B1 is therefore also well available with a vegan diet. Especially brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, fresh sunflower seeds and fresh soybeans are good suppliers. Adult women need 1 mg per day, while men need 1.1-1.3 mg per day.
According to the National Consumption Study II, the average supply in Germany is even too high. Nevertheless, 21% of men and 32% of women do not reach the daily recommended intake. Here it means – as for all the following vitamins – to always check with your doctor of trust whether you suffer from a deficiency.
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin
Riboflavin, lactoflavin, vitamin B2 or earlier vitamin G – all the same! Colloquially, it is also known as a growth vitamin. Unlike B1, it is not sensitive to heat and is obtained during cooking.
Riboflavin is only a precursor for flavin coenzymes, but as such it plays a central role in metabolism. However, 1.2 to 1.5 mg of riboflavin per day is enough.
With a normal diet, as a rule, there is no deficiency. It is found in milk and dairy products, as well as fish, muscle meat and eggs.
A problem with a vegan diet? Not quite, because it is also found in broccoli, asparagus or spinach . So there is a remedy through vegan foods. In addition, however, it has also been in use as a food additive with the E number 101 for 60 years.
Vitamin B3: Nicotinic acid
You probably know nicotinic acid more than niacin. Vitamin B3 is actually the outdated name of this nutrient. It is important for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
It also supplies your body with oxygen as part of the respiratory chain. In addition, it acts as an antioxidant. Nicotinic acid is essential for the regeneration of your skin, muscles, nerves and DNA .
The nutrient is found in poultry, game, liver, fish, dairy products and eggs. Plant-based mushrooms, coffee, cashew seeds, whole grains and some fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, however, your body processes nicotinic acid from animal sources better.
Vegan, the following products are most likely to help you:
- Wheat bran
- Dried apricots
Your daily needs depend heavily on your own energy needs. For women it is between 13 and 15 mg per day, for men between 15 and 20 mg per day.
Especially a low-protein diet can lead to a deficiency . Be sure to regularly incorporate the above foods into your eating plan.
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid
If you’ve carefully looked through the water shelf, you’ve probably already come across β alanine. Pantothenic acid is a derivative of this amino acid.
Like nicotinic acid, it helps in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as in the synthesis of cholesterol.
The name already gives an indication of where you get the nutrient from, because the “pantos” derived from the Greek means “from everywhere”. You get the pantothenic acid almost everywhere .
It is the often mentioned whole grains, legumes, nuts and mushrooms that help you vegan. Eggs would still be the non-vegan form.
Here you need to worry little , because an undersupply is very rare and thus only a problem with diseases in the intestinal area or with chronic inflammation.
Vitamin B6: pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal
If we already have it from the vitamin B complex, it is not surprising that vitamin B6 is also a collective name. These include the substances pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal as well as their compositions with phosphorus.
Pyridoxal phosphate is the most important coenzyme for amino acid metabolism. As soon as your body has to convert amino acids, it needs exactly this substance. However, all these substances can be converted by the body into the other variant.
Like B5, vitamin B6 is present in almost all foods. The best animal sources are dairy products, meat such as liver and poultry and fish. Plant-based and thus vegan, you can stock up on cabbage, green beans, lentils, lamb’s lettuce, potatoes, whole grains, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, yeast, avocados and bananas.
In general, a deficiency is therefore again very rare, even if plant foods are again less available to the body than animal foods. Similarly, while fiber-rich foods are healthy, they reduce the bioavailability of vitamin B6.
Lysine or cysteine additionally slows down absorption. Therefore, the nutrient in wheat bran is hardly bioavailable.
It should be 1.2 mg per day for women, 1.4-1.6 mg per day for men.
Vitamin B7, B8, B9 or B11: Vitamin H, biotin, adenylic acid or folic acid or vitamin M?
Now the naming is slowly getting complicated. In this country, the substance is known in the literature as adenylic acid or vitamin B7, while in France the nutrient is called vitamin B8. However, the International Chemical Federation (IUPAC) only recommends the term “biotin“.
It is even more annoying that the inositol or folic acid is also known as vitamin B8.
It sounds like a prayer, but biotin is also irreplaceable for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
Biotin is present in many foods, but in very few in larger quantities. That would be yeast, chanterelles, porcini mushrooms, peanut butter, wheat bran and soy. Animal-wise, it is beef liver and egg yolk, which are among the best sources.
According to the German Nutrition Society, it should be 30 to 60 μg in adults, but exact and extensive studies on the real dose do not yet exist.
A deficiency due to a low-biotin diet is almost impossible. So it is more likely to be diseases that cause an undersupply.
Folic acid, which can be vitamin B8, B9, B11 or simply M, is necessary in a similar number of metabolic processes. It is especially necessary for cell division and protein conversion.
Now, however, it will be very interesting, because over 50 percent of the population in Germany consume too little folic acid. 300 μg per day is recommended.
You get a lot in yeast, cereal germs and bran, legumes, leafy greens, parsley, garden cress and sunflower seeds. Veal and poultry liver is also at the forefront, but you already notice: The vegan diet is not to blame for the deficiency. It is the undersupply in general.
An indication that you should pay attention to your salary here – no matter what diet – can be seen in Switzerland and Austria. In Switzerland, folic acid is already added to over three hundred foods. Enrichment is being discussed in Austria.
Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
Finally, the king’s nutrient in the vitamin B complex. It is central to cell division, blood formation and the functioning of the nervous system.
Complex is the keyword here, because the nutrient is anything but simple. The body can synthesize it only from microorganisms .
Cobalamin is mainly found in liver, meat, eggs, milk and algae. It is not present in plants. The microorganism Spirulina maxima, the aforementioned algae, is the only source for you as a vegan, right?
Not quite, because the pseudovitamin B12 contained there can hardly be used by the body. Research is still being carried out on other types of algae and food alternatives.
Therefore, it is recommended to bring vitamin B12 to you with supplements in a vegan diet and to have the value checked regularly. 4 μg per day are required for adults.
In summary: These vitamins of the vitamin B complex you need vegan
In a nutshell, it is important to pay attention to thiamine, folic acid and cobalamin in particular and to check them regularly. In other words, you should keep an eye on vitamins B1, B3, B9 or B11 (folic acid again makes this difficult in vitamins) and B12 .
As you can see, this works quite well with the vitamin B complex in vegan. With the few nutrients, however, it is important to be careful and rather check and, if necessary, supplement.