When you think about adding B vitamins into your diet, you may assume there's only one way to do it, but in fact, there's at least eight.
B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), folic acid, and biotin all make up B vitamins, says nutritionist Rachel Caven of Caven Nutrition Group in Ottawa.
"The B vitamins are essential for energy production, helping our body turn fat, sugar and protein into energy," she says. "They are also important for the maintenance and repair of our skin, keeping hair, nails and eyes healthy."
A variety of foods contain different types of B vitamins, but Caven adds the best way to add them to your diet is by eating whole, unrefined foods. Most B vitamins are stripped from foods like grains, for example, during the refinement process, which is why a lot of them are found in meat, dairy and eggs. If you're a vegan/vegetarian, you may want to stock up on those vitamin B-rich veggies and nuts.
"B vitamins are used up under stress, with intake of alcohol, coffee or tea, and with medication like antibiotics or birth control pills," Caven adds. Besides, people who don't eat dairy or meat, pregnant women and the elderly should also be aware of their vitamin B intake.
While supplements should be taken on a case-by-case basis (if you have any deficiencies or are under a lot of stress, supplements can help), talk to your doctor first before committing to any pills.
Here are Caven's recommendations for the healthiest way to get more vitamin B in your diet. She also included tips on how to actually enjoy these foods.