Vitamin B6: This vitamin is used to help more than 60 different enzymes function properly. It helps with cell multiplication (so it’s really important during pregnancy), immunity, and healthy skin and red blood cells. Deficiency symptoms of vitamin B6 include depression, convulsions, anemia, cracked lips or tongue, and eczema. Vitamin B6 is especially important for people with asthma, PMS, carpal tunnel, depression, morning sickness and kidney stones. The best food sources are brewer’s yeast, sunflower seeds, walnuts, lentils, brown rice, garbanzo and pinto beans, bananas, avocados, kale, and spinach.
Biotin: This B-vitamin helps us manufacture and utilize fats and proteins. Like niacin, it is crucial for healthy metabolism. Biotin is manufactured by gut bacteria in our intestines, but we can also get it from foods such as liver, soybeans, walnuts, pecans, oatmeal, almonds, cauliflower, mushrooms and lentils. Signs one may be deficient in biotin include dry and scaly skin, nausea, and hair loss in infants 6 months and younger.
Folic Acid: This important vitamin is necessary for DNA synthesis and cell division. Therefore, it is vital to the proper development of a fetus and all pregnant women must ensure they are obtaining enough folic acid. One important thing to note: the folic acid is needed most by the fetus in the first few months of pregnancy; therefore, any female who plans to get pregnant must increase folic acid intake prior to getting pregnant to ensure ample supplies are available. This is why many doctors recommend a prenatal vitamin before actual pregnancy. The best food sources of folic acid are brewer’s yeast, soy flour, liver, kidney beans, lima beans, asparagus, lentils, walnuts, spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, almonds and dried figs. Folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency. This is partly because alcohol and many prescription medicines prevent proper absorption of folic acid, and heat and light easily destroy folic acid. Signs of deficiency include poor growth, diarrhea, anemia, gingivitis, depression, insomnia, irritability, and fatigue.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 works with folic acid to synthesize DNA and red blood cells. It is found only in animal foods, and the best sources include lamb or calf liver, clams, sardines, trout, salmon, tuna, eggs, beef, and cheeses. This vitamin differs from the other water-soluble vitamins in that it is stored in the liver, kidney and other tissues. Therefore, deficiency symptoms may take years to show up. These include pernicious anemia, impaired nerve function which causes numbness or pins-and-needles feelings, or mental fuzziness similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Now we’ve covered all the fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Hopefully this gave you more insight into why you need to include these in your diet, and which foods you should focus on to ensure you are not becoming deficient.