Vegan foods high in B vitamins?

I'm vegan due to a lot of stomach issues and I seem to be having issues getting enough B vitamins. I supplement B12 and another supplement I take has B6 in it but I have issues getting the rest. Any ideas? My last resort is nutritional yeast but I'm not a big fan of the taste.

Best Answers

  • Thanks for your question!

    B vitamins are found in a variety of foods on a plant-based diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. If a vegan client is not meeting his or her B vitamin needs, it's often because calories are too low or the diet is too restrictive.

    If you visit the following site, you will find a resource for each of the B vitamins (just scroll past the recommendations for animal products).

    Also, you may want to use Cronometer's Oracle feature. Just click on the icon next to "Nutrient Targets" titled "Suggest Foods". The oracle will take a look at your diet and provide recommendations (based on your preferences) of ways to meet your nutrient needs. It's a pretty cool feature. :)

    Good luck!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • I'm having trouble with my B's also. Unfortunately I'm restricted by allergies and inflammatory reactions to all grains and several other foods, but I never restrict my calories so that helps.

    Susan, that website is not up to date or very vegan friendly. Honestly, I've had more luck experimenting with foods on Cronometer than using any online list.

    For example, fresh green peas are high in B1. Grapes and blueberries come in medium.

    I've had trouble locating B2 but bananas, blueberries and fresh green peas are decent.

    Green peas and blueberries again for B3, plus peaches and mamey sapote.

    Bananas, dates and mamey sapote for B5.

    Mamey sapote is fantastic - high in B6, as are bananas, peas, dates and blueberries.

    Mamey sapote is good in all the B's, just especially so in B6.

    The key, again, is to eat enough. Also organic, non gmo foods have higher nutrients than their conventional counterparts, but you can also tell the first fruits of the season vs the last - the first are clearly of superior quality. That all comes down to the nutrients available in the soil, in which ratios, and what methods the individual farmers use... ha I've been reading into this, lol, trying to figure it all out.

  • @floridavegan

    I agree! Cronometer's database is an excellent way to find foods high in various nutrients of concern. Definitely check out the Oraracle by clicking on "Suggest Foods". You can also exclude certain categories so the recommendations are specific your your needs.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Answer ✓

    That is unfortunate for you. Allergies and that kind of stuff are indeed a big obstacle in a plantbased diet. My advices for the B vitamins
    B1 = Sunflowerseeds 70g
    B2 = Mushrooms 400g or Almonds 220g
    B3 = Mushrooms 400g or Peanuts 100g
    B5 = Mushrooms 400g or Poppy seeds 166g
    B6 = Sunflowerseeds 65g

    Though I have to say, that the amounts vary alot for different sources.
    Poppy seeds for example have ten times more B5 regarding to the National Nutrient Database of United States Department of Agriculture than the poppy seeds in the cronometer database ... I dont know where they got their data from but I know for sure that its not very accurate.
    With some calculation you can see, that regarding to cronometer 70g of sunflowerseeds, 85g of Almonds and 80g of peanuts will give you over 100% of B1 B2 B3 B6 Vit E. Iron Copper Manganese Magnesium Phosphorus and most of the essential amino acids. So starting the day of with like 50 g of each will give you a good base for many nutrients and you will have plenty of surplus calories to eat tons of veggies.


  • @VeganLife123 I don't know how you have troubles getting your B Vitamins. Two servings of whole wheat pasta (with spinach and pumpkin) 600g each do fill up my b1 b2 ,b5,b6 and half of my b5. I'm even suspicious why the amounts of B-vitamins is so high in whole wheat, though its cooked and b3 is water solvable so it should be way less. But none the less, according to the database it shouldnt be a problem, so I'm wondering what whole food plandbased food you are eating that isn't giving you enough of everything you need ? (Except for B12)

  • @Sowiso That's good to know pasta is that high in B vitamins. I didn't specify in the initial post because I didn't want to scare people away from answering my question but I'm fructose intolerant so I have to carefully watch eating any foods with fructose (mostly fruits but also some veggies) and foods that turn into fructose in digestion (wheat, garlic, and onion). Finding this out was one of the saddest days of my life because fruit is seriously my favorite, haha. I can have a little so maybe one banana a day or something like that but I have to really watch it or I'm severely bloated, nauseous, and have no appetite (which is already a struggle from some other GI issues). Since this initial post I've added oatmeal, more peanut butter, and some rice cereal into my diet, but I'm still open to suggestions. :smile:

  • @Sowiso Thanks so much! I'll definitely be eating more of those. Yeah food allergies and intolerances are very annoying. I want to eat plant based but of course do so healthily! I think I've just been stuck in a rut eating the same things. Suggestions like oatmeal, sunflower seeds, mushrooms etc. seems so obvious and basic, It just helps to be reminded of some of the variety that I've been forgetting about. :smile:

  • @VeganLife123

    One thing to note about fructose intolerance is that it can be fairly well managed by looking at when/what you are including with foods high in fructose.

    Without going too far into biochemistry/physiology, fructose tends not to be absorbed as well as glucose, especially if a large amount is eaten at once (i.e. a large fruit smoothie). However, if you combine foods high in glucose with something containing fructose, absorption of fructose can be enhanced.

    This is an approach I use with a lot of athletes to reduce gastrointestinal issues during training/competition.

    So, my best advice would be to never eat fruit on its own; always have it with meals where a different type of carb is eaten.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi @VeganLife123 -

    Looks like you've gotten plenty of answers here already, but here are a few more things that can provide B-vitamins:

    • brussel sprouts
    • avocados
    • oatmeal
    • cauliflower
    • white potatoes
    • kale
    • spinach
    • quinoa
    • white rice
    • orange juice

    I have seen from tracking my own diet that each of these can provide 5-35%+ of my daily recommended value for multiple B-vitamins. So you'll need to combine a few of these in your diet to reach 100%.

    Depending on how strictly you're following your vegan diet, eggs and salmon are also great sources of B-vitamins, but I realize that isn't usually an option! :)


    American living abroad in Norway.
    Why Cronometer? To promote good health through correct nutrients and sufficient calories.
    Dietary Restrictions: Gluten-free & limiting dairy/sugar until current health issues are better understood.

  • edited November 2017

    @Sowiso To answer your question, many whole plant vegans do not consider pasta to be whole plant - it's clearly processed. In any case, so many people are gluten intolerant now on many different levels.

    @Susan_RD_101 I strongly disagree about fructose and glucose digestion. In both my reading and experience it actually is directly dependent upon levels of fat in the daily diet.

    When I ate more conventional foods I was extremely sensitive to blood sugar changes. During my pregnancy I had gestational diabetes and afterwards continuing blood sugar issues. Now that I'm eating 80/10/10rv it becomes very obvious, if I have issues, precisely what the source of my issue is. Most of my meals are pure fruit, with 2 high green smoothies a day. I only ever have a problem when I eat outside of that 10%- extra olives or seeds or guacamole (or the occasional cooked food).

    It seems Dr Graham was correct - fat (and cooked, dehydrated foods) keeps sugar from being processed out of the bloodstream. If you eat low fat -10% or less of your daily calories- neither fructose nor glucose should pose a problem. The body processes them both quickly and easily, in and out to the cells that need them.

    @VeganLife123 Have you looked at your fat macro? After all my reading on the physiological processes, I can't for the life of me imagine a fructose sensitivity. I'm extremely curious to know your macros and your average daily menu!

  • @floridavegan

    Thanks for your comment.

    Just to clarify, we are speaking about two different parts of digestion. What you are referring to is the rate that foods containing carbohydrates (either fructose or glucose, or other chains of carbohydrates) are broken down in the stomach and passed on to the intestine for absorption. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is an incredibly effective way to decrease the amount of visceral and intracellular fat, making your cells much more receptive to insulin and better able to take the glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells. Excessive fat in the body can interfere with this process.

    What I am talking about is how glucose is moved across the cell membrane, assuming there is enough insulin. Glucose absorption is through "active transport", which requires sodium. Fructose, on the other hand, is absorbed passively and can be saturated with a very high intake. This means the excess fructose can stay in the intestinal tract where bacteria will go crazy and eat it up producing gas and cramping.

    Here's a nifty chart if you are interested!

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • @floridavegan I wasn't talking about just pasta, but about whole wheat pasta !
    Grounding up whole wheat to flour and mixing it with water doesn't decreases its health value by any means and therefore you can consider whole wheat pasta as whole food plantbased, I dont see why you shouldn't.
    Besides that, you dont need gluten containing grains to meet your Vit B needs.
    You can eat buckwheat pasta (or just plain) or quinoa. It is more expensive though depending on where you're from.

  • @Susan_RD_101 actually I was talking about fat in the bloodstream, how it blocks insulin receptors, etc. It actively blocks fructose from being absorbed into the cells.

    Let me see if I can remember off the top of my head... I believe it was the book Powered By Plants, by Don Mastesz, that did the best scientific study summary, but I'm not completely sure... I've read so many books, and you know I forget which ones particularly went into the fat in the bloodstream process.

  • @floridavegan

    Yes, you are definitely correct! Fat in the bloodstream is known to contribute to insulin resistance. I haven't heard of that book, but will have to check it out!

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Interesting thread! I eat an organic, mostly vegan (but with daily salmon or sardines) diet with lots of leafy greens, raw or steamed cruciferous veggies, tempeh, nuts, and some low-glycemic fruit. I do not eat wheat, rye, barley, or refined sugars. I do eat certified gluten-free rolled oats, quinoa and buckwheat as my staple "grains" and put 3 tablespoons of organic hemp powder in my smoothies. This diet results in an abundance of all the B vitamins - except B-6, which regularly clocks in at 25% or below. My question is whether I should assume Cronometer's reporting is correct and supplement with B-6 or should I be aware of any under-reporting of B-6 by Cronometer's database, i.e, should I look up B-6 content of my individual foods online and add it separately as a diet item, as I do for omega-3s in sardines, which generally are not acknowledged by Cronometer.

  • Of course, maybe my problem is that the foods I am eating are not sufficient for B-6 in particular.

  • @Lin

    Provided you are entering the generic names of foods (I prefer the USDA database, when possible), all B vitamins will be accounted for. If you are wondering how to bump up this nutrient in your diet, click on the "Suggest Foods" oracle button.

    Some excellent sources include:

    • chickpeas
    • potatoes
    • banana
    • bulgur

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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