Do You Know What the “Other” B Vitamins Are?

*For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to take a look at the essential vitamins for our health. We’ll look at the what, where, when, who and how much. Please remember that this blog is providing general information. If you are questioning whether you need to take a vitamin(s) supplement, please speak to a health professional such as your family doctor, pharmacist or registered dietitian.*

The last up in the B vitamin blogs is…the “other” B Vitamins: Folate, Biotin and Pantothenic Acid.

What is it and what does it do?
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin, which is found naturally in foods. Folic acid is a form of folate, and is usually the type that is found in vitamin supplements. Folacin is the generic name for folic acid.

Folate helps make red blood cells. If you do not get enough folate, anemia (symptoms include low concentration, tiredness and weakness) may develop. It is also important in preventing birth defects in babies, which is why pregnant women are recommended to take it.

Where do we get it?
Folate cannot be stored in the body, so you should eat folate-rich foods every day. According to Dietitians of Canada, dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and dried legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are naturally good sources of folate. In Canada, folic acid is added to all cornmeal products, enriched pasta and white flour. The top 5 food sources are: liver (chicken and turkey), yeast extract spread (vegemite or marmite), liver (lamb and veal), beans (cranberry and roman) and lentils.

Who and How Much?
Women who could become pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding need more folate. They should take a daily folic acid supplement of 400 mcg (0.4 mg).
• Men and women, 19 and older, should aim for an intake of 400 micrograms (mcg)/day.
• Pregnant women, 19 and older, should aim for an intake of 600 micrograms (mcg)/day.
• Breastfeeding women, 19 and older, should aim for an intake of 500 micrograms (mcg)/day.
It is recommended that everyone stay below 1000 micrograms (mcg)/day of folate, including sources of folate from food and supplements.

Biotin allows your body to use carbohydrate, fat and protein from food. Very little data exists on the biotin content of foods, and it is not included in most nutrient databases.

Pantothenic Acid
Pantothenic acid plays a central role in metabolism. Very little data exits on the panthothenic acid content of foods, but beef, broccoli, chicken, egg yolk, kidney, liver, oat cereals, potatoes, tomato products and whole grains are reported to be among the major sources.

Before taking any supplement, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian to discuss your individual needs.

For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to take a look at these essential vitamins for our health in greater detail. If you have any questions on a specific vitamin or vitamins in general, let me know.

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!