They boost your brainpower and protect your heart
Of the eight B vitamins, B12 and folate are the most famous. B12 helps your body convert food into energy, and you need it to make the insulation, called myelin, that covers your nerves and helps neurons in the brain communicate with one another. B12 deficiency has been linked to cognitive issues like memory loss, confusion, and depression.
Folate is known to be crucial for pregnant women—but we all need it. “The fact that it plays such an important role in fetal development speaks volumes about its importance,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. Folate is vital because it helps lower levels of an amino acid that can contribute to stroke and cardiovascular disease risk. “Typically, people think of fiber and healthy fats as good for the heart,” says Blatner, “but folate and other B vitamins are part of that heart-smart group.”
Where to get them
Since B12 is one of the rare nutrients not available in plants, it’s easy to come up short, especially if you’re a vegetarian. Good sources include eggs, cheese, fish, milk, yogurt, and red meat. Unlike B12, folate is found in plenty of good-for-you produce, including greens like spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts, as well as beans and fortified cereals.
Dish ’em up
For a smoothie… Blend baby spinach, a small banana, almond milk, almond butter, chickpea our, and ground cinnamon.
For a salad… Top chopped romaine with a big spoonful of guac. Garnish with pico de gallo, black beans, and grilled shrimp. For a soup… Add 2 cups vegetable broth to sautéed chopped onions and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup cooked lentils and 1 cup fresh spinach; stir until spinach has wilted. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
RELATED: 15 Foods That Are High in B12