We typically think of the energy value of food in terms of calories. However, there are very important vitamins in minerals that when present in our food, help with the conversion of calories to sustainable energy. When we eat food that lack these nutrients, we are consuming what is commonly referred to as ‘empty calories.’ If we fill up on empty calories often, we are likely to fatigue at certain times of the day and may reach for coffee or sugar to help us make it through the day. This is part of the reason we have an overeating epidemic in the USP: if the food we eat lacks the necessary nutrition, we often overeat to compensate. This can be easily remedied if we consume foods with these essential vitamins that give our bodies the energy we need to make it from one meal to the next.
The B vitamins B1, (thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), and B6 (pyridoxine) and B5 (Pantothenic acid) help facilitate the production of energy from the foods we eat, and 2 other B vitamins, folate and B12, play important roles in making blood cells which transport oxygen needed in energy production. The two B vitamins we are likely to fall short of when we age are B6 and B12. In addition, stress and vigorous energy can deplete our B vitamin stores. Vegans and vegetarians can be specifically challenged in getting their vitamin B12 needs met as this is found only in animal-derived foods. Menu 4 includes plenty of Vitamin B rich foods, making this menu a great study in plant and animal protein B vitamin support.
- Cabbage – Cabbage is a good source of B6 and folate. Just one cup of cabbage contains about 10% the RDI for folate and 6% RDI for B6.
- Butter lettuce – Butter lettuce is a good source of a wide variety of B vitamins. Two cups of butter lettuce contains 32% RDI for folate, 6% RDI for B1, 5% RDI for B2, 4% RDI for B6, and 3% RDI for B5.
- Mushrooms – Mushrooms are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins including B3, B2, B5, B1, and B6. One-half cup serving of mushrooms contains more B3 (niacin) than any other B-vitamin, providing up 1.2 mg of this vitamin.
- Black cod – Black cod is a superb source of B vitamins including a whopping 109% RDI for B12, 10% RDI for B3, 9% RDI for B6, and 8% RDI for B5.
- Quinoa – Quinoa is technically a seed – not a grain, and is gluten free – so it is an excellent choice for people who are challenged by grains. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 19% RDI for folate, 11% RDI for B6, and 12% RDI for B2.