How to be beautiful and brilliant? Don’t read too far into it, literally. The answer to obtaining these characteristics can be found in the first letter of each word—B, as in vitamin B!
Not everyone is aware of the wondrous vitamin B, which is really a group of vitamins that includes thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin (B12). For starters, B vitamins are associated with improved skin hydration and cell repair—aka a good complexion, a faster metabolism and mega brainpower. As if that’s not impressive enough, studies point out other benefits of vitamin B, which include improved immune response and enhanced energy levels. As an added bonus: Studies show an adequate intake of folic acid during pregnancy is crucial for a healthy mom and her baby, reducing the risk of birth defects.
B for Brainpower
Intelligence is an important part of overall attractiveness—let’s be honest, beauty isn’t worth much if it isn’t paired with a little brainpower. So you may be wondering how these wonder vitamins help beautify your brain. Well, studies have shown a positive association between vitamin B intake and cognitive function. Researchers with the Framingham Heart Study, a research project that began in 1948 with the purpose of studying long-term health and specifically, incidence of heart disease and stroke, found that low levels of plasma B12 signified a more rapid decrease in cognitive functioning. These findings suggest that a proper intake of these nutrients may even improve your IQ.
Best Sources of Vitamin B
Good sources of vitamin B can be found in a wide variety of foods; however, more often than not, the water-soluble-B vitamins are not listed on nutrition labels. So where are you going to find these brain boosters? We’ve got you covered with all the hot spots:
Thiamin and Riboflavin
Foods that are high in thiamin include pork and green peas, while riboflavin is plentiful in milk and other dairy products, as well as salmon and chicken. Riboflavin is also found in leafy green vegetables. Toss up a quick salad with a mix of romaine and baby spinach, grilled salmon or chicken, and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan cheese for a vitamin B food feast!
Niacin and B6
Niacin is commonly found in high-protein foods such as peanut butter, beans and beef, while you’ll find high levels of vitamin B6 in baked potatoes, bananas and beef. My favorite brainpower sandwich includes three ingredients: enriched whole wheat bread, peanut butter (peanuts and salt should be the only ingredients) and banana slices.
Folic Acid and B12
Folic acid is abundant in orange juice, spinach and romaine lettuce. B12 is only naturally found in animal products and seafood such as beef liver, clams, salmon, trout and tuna, although the vitamin is also added to plant-based foods. Many enriched cereals and grains commonly provide 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12. To be sure a grain product is enriched, check the ingredient list on the nutrition label.
Now that you know where to find these superstar vitamins, try mixing them into your meals. As a general guide for finding good sources of vitamin B, choose whole food sources rather than highly processed foods with low nutrient quality. Bite in and enjoy the mouthwatering health benefits of vitamin B.
Kelly Rohrich contributed to this column.
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