Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B6.
On my Facebook page this week we are talking about avocado, a whole one providing about 30% of your daily dose of Vitamin B6. It’s actually a fairly versatile fruit, most commonly associated with guacamole and other southwestern or Mexican foods, but it can be put to use in other ways as well. I played around with it in my kitchen yesterday for #testkitchentuesday and ended up using it as a garnish on a Vegetarian Chocolate Chili.
Recipe Roundup on #foodiefriday has some other excellent recipes coming, and I'll also be sharing my chili recipe, so check it out!
Vitamin B6 plays a role in several systems in our body. Everything I have studied suggests over 100 different reactions! It helps us to regulate glucose, serotonin, and melatonin. Without adequate amounts of B6 your body can’t utilize Vitamin B12. It plays a role in brain development and function as well as in production of red blood cells and a healthy heart. It plays a role in helping deal with morning sickness. There really are too many systems to list.
You can get Vitamin B6 from several food sources, though like other B vitamins it’s a sensitive vitamin as processing in many ways will decrease the amount received. Levels of B6 in plants fare better in processing, but aren’t as available to your body as animal sources. Here is a very interesting article that discusses this.
In spite of these issues, Vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively rare in the West. It’s important to make sure you regularly get your blood checked, as a deficiency in any of the B Vitamins will lead to a host of health complications.
Because Vitamin B6 is water soluble, you need to ensure you take in enough through a balanced diet or supplements, and because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor before self-medicating.
To summarize, Vitamin B6 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B6 in these food sources:
Banana, avocado, turkey breast, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. You can also find it in pistachios, several seeds and legumes, spinach, and whole grain flour.
Children need 0.1-1 mg per day, depending on age and sex. 14 yrs to adult need 1.3-2 mg, depending on their age, sex, and whether or not they are breastfeeding.
There is definitely an upper limit. You can have severe reactions if you have too much, so if you are a vitamin taker, please read your labels.
For information on Vitamin B6 deficiency and other concerns, please check here.
For general information on Vitamin B6, please check here.
A very in-depth look at this vitamin can be found here.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I tried both avocado and kiwi; the former because I didn't know avocado was a food (more on that to follow), the latter because the fuzzy brown skin, bright green fruit, and tiny little seeds were a little too odd for me to move past.
In both cases, my mom was the cause behind both the food avoidance and acceptance.
As parents and caregivers, we model so much more than how to balance a bank account, fold bath towels, or make beds. The way we approach food becomes deeply ingrained in our children as well. The more we model an open acceptance to try new things, including food, the more our children will move into their own adulthood with a spirit of adventure.
When I was a child, my mom had the most amazing green thumb. She had houseplants flourishing in every corner and on every table. She was particularly fond of avocado plants and always had them rooting and growing in glasses of water on the kitchen counter.
I didn't know avocados were food! My mom would buy one, toss the meat, and root a plant. It wasn't until I was 21 years old and out for dinner with a friend that I found out what that green stuff was when I ordered a taco salad and he told me to eat it.
My mom enjoys eating avocados now! But it took a few years for her to develop a taste for them.
When I was not quite as old, around 18, she forced me to eat a kiwi. She described the taste as a cross between a strawberry and something else, which was a good enough description at the time. She told me I was old enough to try it and made me eat some with my eyes closed so the appearance of it wouldn't put me off. Of course she was right. They are delicious. But I wouldn't have tried it if she hadn't made it happen.
We're the great influencers of the people around us. Food is a journey for all of us and we don't all have to like the same things. But I want to encourage you to try new foods and expose your family to new foods, spices, flavours, and presentations. The more variety in our diet, the healthier we will be. No one food group can satisfy our body's nutritional needs any more than a single bar of soap can support a lifetime of personal hygiene.
It might help to have a routine in place to bring new foods into the house. Perhaps a "new month, new food" tradition- the first day of each month a new food comes home to be tasted. To help foster ownership, try having everyone in the household take turns picking the new food to try. Perhaps a recipe search or a call for suggestions on Facebook will help. Whatever you choose to do, it's never too late to adopt a more adventurous palate. Your health, and the health of the people around you, can only benefit.
Enjoy your day, friends.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B5, which is also known of as Pantothenic Acid.
On my Facebook page this week our general food theme is sunflower seeds. We talked about their history, benefits, and what happens when you eat too many of them on #marinatingmonday.
On Tuesday's #testkitchen I spent a few hours creating a gluten free snack bar that uses sunflower and sesame seeds as the delicious power-packed topping. And on #foodiefriday I'll be sharing a recipe roundup that features sunflower seeds, as well as my sunflower sesame seed bar recipe. If you haven’t already “liked” and “followed” my Facebook page, I encourage you to do it today so that you don’t miss out!
Vitamin B5 is responsible for synthesizing cholesterol and keeping your adrenal glands happy and functional. It works in conjunction with the other B-Vitamins to keep digestion strong as it also breaks down fat and carbohydrates into a form of energy your body can use.
Some studies have linked it to wound healing (when combined with vitamin c) as well as having a positive effect on Rheumatoid Arthritis, but such studies are limited.
Vitamin B5 helps to manufacture red blood cells, and as such is equally important as the rest of the B-complex.
You can get Vitamin B5 from many different fresh food sources- animal, vegetable, and grain. The vitamin is easily lost in processing, however, and it is water soluble, so plan your meals around fresh food. It’s fairly easy to get enough Vitamin B5 from your diet, and try to use your diet to meet your Vitamin B5 requirements. It is much easier to ingest too much of a vitamin when using supplements.
If you must take supplements, take the whole Vitamin B-Complex, not just one of them- they all need to work together. Check with your doctor before self-medicating.
There are some drug interactions that you should be aware of. Some medications may be adversely effected, specifically antibiotics and Alzheimer’s medications.
To summarize, Vitamin B5 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B5 in these food sources:
Chicken liver, salmon, sunflower seeds, avocados, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, egg yolks, split peas, whole grains, and peanuts are some foods with available B5.
Adults from the ages of 19 and onward need between 5 and 7 mg daily, depending on their age, sex, and whether or not they are pregnant or nursing. Children need between 1.7 and 5 mg per day, again depending on age and sex.
Here is my source for these numbers as well as the other information in this article.
Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare, but is discussed here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B3.
On my Facebook page this week we are spotlighting bell peppers, which is a “very good” source of Vitamin B3. It’s a versatile food to work with, which is why we always have a bunch of fresh peppers in our fridge.
Tuesday's #testkitchen was a creamy coconut curry soup with pureed bell peppers. That recipe post will be shared with Facebook on #foodiefriday. Watch for it, try it, and let me know what you think!
Niacin keeps our blood circulating well. It assists in helping keep the brain clear and memory strong, and plays a role in assisting sexual health, such as erectile dysfunction. It works on keeping your skin clear and assists in digestion. It may also play a role in the improvement of high cholesterol.
Like the other B-Vitamins, Niacin works in conjunction with other vitamins in the B family. Niacin is water soluble, and available from many food sources. How you cook your food determines how much of the vitamin you actually ingest. Cooking these foods in water, for example, pushes the vitamins out into the cooking water. Consider roasting or baking.
Because it is water soluble, most of what we do not need will be eliminated from the body, and it’s important to daily replenish our supply of this important vitamin through the foods we eat. Taken in high dose supplements, Vitamin B3 can cause liver damage. As I’ve stated before, it’s much easier to overdose when taking a pill. Try to get what your body needs through a balanced diet.
To summarize, Vitamin B3 is important to:
You can get Vitamin B3 from many food sources:
Green peas, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, and asparagus; chicken, turkey, and tuna; nuts and whole grains.
Adults need 14-19mg of Vitamin B3 daily, depending on their sex and whether or not they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Because of liver toxicity, stay below 35mg. Supplements are unnecessary in most cases- consult with your health care provider if you have any questions and before self-medicating.
For more information on Vitamin B3 deficiency, please check here.
For more information on Vitamin B3 side effects and overuse, please check here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B2. On my Facebook page this week we are focused on almonds, which is a food source high in Vitamin B2. It’s a versatile nut, and can be easily used in everything from baking muffins, cookies, and loaves to crusting seafood, sprinkling on salad, creating nut butters, and mixed in sweet and savoury snacks.
Vitamin B2 plays a role in keeping your nervous system running smoothly. While Vitamin B1 helps to convert food energy to glucose, Vitamin B2 assists the body in converting that glucose to energy. It helps to create hydrochloric acid, which aids the body in breaking down carbohydrate, fats, and proteins.
Vitamin B2 also helps to alleviate migraines, and, like all B-vitamins, works in conjunction with the other B vitamins. It plays a role in cancer prevention, eye health (including the prevention of age-related disease), brain health (including the prevention of age-related disease), and skin health (including the lessening of age-related markers such as fine lines and wrinkles and chapped lips)
You can get Vitamin B2 from many food sources. It’s sensitive to light, so most grain products containing riboflavin have a synthetic version added- you may see this on the label, listed as “fortified” or “enriched”. It’s naturally found in red meat, egg yolks, some seafood (including seaweed), organ meats, green leafy vegetables, some nuts, and some dairy.
Vitamin B2 plays a role in preventing anemia by helping transport oxygen to our cells and helping to produce red blood cells. It also helps to protect gestation by converting folate into a form the body can use, and a deficiency in riboflavin can lead to preeclampsia.
The B-Complex is water soluble. Our bodies can only hold on to so much of it, but different amounts are required at different times. It’s important to daily replenish your Vitamin B2 intake through your favourite foods, and to plan your meals accordingly.
It is very difficult to overdose on vitamins through your diet, but extremely easy to do so via supplementation. Because the B-complex vitamins work together, taking a single supplement is not recommended- best to take the complete B-family.
To summarize, Vitamin B2 is important to:
Vitamin B2 deficiency looks like chapped lips, bloodshot eyes, light sensitivity, sore throat, fatigue, and anemia.
You can find Vitamin B2 in these food sources:
Fortified grains, almonds, eggs, red meat, seaweed, salmon, some dairy, some vegetables, dark meat, and liver.
Adults need 1.1-1.3mg of Vitamin B2 daily, depending on their sex. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require more, between 1.4 and 1.6mg per day. Supplements are unnecessary in most cases- consult with your health care provider if you have any questions and before self-medicating.
For more information on Vitamin B2 dosing and interactions, please check here.
A very in-depth look at this vitamin can be found here.
I've been a mom for almost 14 years. We're making plans with my oldest about his high school, and that's unbelievable to me, but I can console myself that I still have a little at home to snuggle with and do the small child things. When I think about it in those terms, it's no wonder I get a little weepy when my "baby" outgrows his young-child activities and embarks on his own journey toward adulthood.
He's almost given up on baths, my 7 year old. He doesn't play anymore, and it's not a big joy to have bath time- he'd rather have a shower. And I do celebrate that, because it's not my favourite activity to lean over the tub and wash/rinse his hair while he howls about soap in his eyes. But last night he had a bath, and said the magic words I've been looking forward to ever since his older brother started having baths on his own, "Mom, you can get rid of the bath toys now. I don't need them anymore".
At first I was excited. I can't wait to get rid of the clutter than consumes my life. But then I started contemplating what that actually means. Sure, we don't step on lego or dinosaurs anymore like we used to, but that means that he doesn't play like he used to, either. His imagination is taken up with more the mature themes and ideas he's picked up from his brother. Books like "The Cat in the Hat" are replaced with Beast Quest and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And he's into clothes and hair and developing his signature "style". He's hilarious, and empathetic, and the sweetest, most tender little person. But he's not really so young, anymore.
Life is change. I know we celebrate that, marking time on our calendars and celebrating the usual annual celebrations. Without change, there would be no life. But for all these years of parenthood I didn't stop to think about what it would mean when we reached each milestone. I'm proud of our boys; they are kind, thoughtful, and respectful kids. They are learning independence, which is necessary. I've been deliberately fostering it, in fact. But I can still mourn a little when they need me a little less.
Let's file this under personal growth today, shall we? Enjoy your day, and come check in on Facebook on Friday for the recipe for Honey Garlic Almonds.