Best Grain-Free Sources of Vitamin B on Keto

Low-Carb Diets are NOT Deficient in Vitamin B
Even though Keto doesn't include whole grains,
low-carb foods are rich in Vitamin B complex

Vitamin B is actually a group of different water-soluble vitamins that must be eaten daily since the body cannot store them. These vitamins are necessary to:
  • turn food into energy
  • create red blood cells
  • keep the nervous system and brain functioning normally
  • regulate appetite
Processing foods that contain natural B vitamins will destroy some of those nutrients, so grains and cereals are often enriched in order to replace the nutrients lost during processing.

When nutritionists claim that we should eat plenty of grains to be healthy, it is this artificial form of vitamins and minerals that manufacturers add to bread and other products that they are suggesting we eat.

In order to verify or destroy that claim, I did a little research on grains and grain-free sources of Vitamin B.

Here is what I found out:

Synthetically Enriched Grains are Not Necessary to Get Enough Vitamin B Complex

With all of the hoopla that medical websites and nutritionists have been dishing out about the necessity of eating plenty of grains daily, and avoiding Keto, I expected to find high levels of Vitamin B in grains and grain-based products.

That's not what I found. 

While many products like white rice or dry cooked cereals do have vitamins and minerals that manufacturers have added to the product, it is not a huge amount. In fact, for most of the B vitamins, cereals and bread contain less B vitamins than traditional low-carb foods do.

While it's true that ketogenic dieters are not getting the artificial vitamins found in enriched grains like white rice and pasta anymore, there is a very good reason why nutritionists advise people to eat PLENTY of whole grains.

To get the amount of B vitamins you need every day, you have to eat several servings of grain just to reach the minimal daily recommended amount for these vitamins.

A typical low-carb diet contains larger portions of Vitamin-B rich foods than the typical American eats. It is easy to get enough vitamins from these sources without having to stoop to using grains if you don't want to.

The accusation against Keto for being vitamin and mineral deficient, even on Atkins Induction, doesn't hold up. The truth is that synthetically enriched grains are not necessary to get enough Vitamin B complex.

In fact, a well-thought-out ketogenic diet contains an optimal amount of these vitamins and not just the bare minimum daily requirement necessary to keep symptoms of malnutrition at bay.

Basic Vitamin B Information

Water soluble means that the vitamin doesn't mix with body oils, so it cannot be stored to be used later on like Vitamin A is. Any water soluble vitamin that can't be used immediately is flushed out of the body.

The B vitamins fall into this category.

They have to be acquired in the food you eat each and every day or you will feel tired, weak, and won't be able to metabolize protein, fats, and carbohydrates effectively.

B vitamins are also responsible for making a wide variety of enzymes that help metabolic processes.

For example, Riboflavin (B2) is an antioxidant. It is important for healthy skin as well as fighting off free radicals in the body. DNA also depends on getting plenty of these vitamins.

For that reason, it is understandable why nutritionists and other medical authorities are concerned over the amount of B vitamins that dieters get. However, the concern is mostly grounded in misunderstandings about what Keto actually is and what real low-carb dieters eat on a daily basis.

There are 8 different B vitamins:
  1. Thiamin (B1)
  2. Riboflavin (B2)
  3. Niacin (B3)
  4. Folate (folic acid; B5)
  5. Pyridoxine (B6)
  6. B12
  7. Biotin
  8. Pantothenic Acid
Together, these vitamins are referred to as B-Complex because there is a complex relationship between this cluster of related nutrients.

Although each vitamin has functions of their own, Dr. Atkins reminds us that "they exist together in nature" and are "responsible for producing energy by extracting fuel from the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in our food." (Dr. Atkins' Vital Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs, 1998, page 53.)

Because of that, the processing and refining of natural foods that manufacturers are famous for can disrupt nature's fine balance and leave us with foods that are unbalanced and nutritionally deficient.

Eating highly processed Vitamin B-robbed foods that have been enriched with only a limited amount of the intertwined fragile vitamin complex can actually do more harm than good over the long term.

Getting too much of one vitamin and not enough of another will create consequences that Dr. Atkins believed might be the foundation for degenerative disease.

With that in mind, getting enough Vitamin B complex on Keto is simply a matter of using mostly whole foods as found in nature.

Pinterest Image: Vegetable Kabobs

Vitamin B1 - Thiamin

Salmon on a bed of spinach
One serving of salmon contains half of the Vitamin B1
that you need for the entire day.

Hefty amounts of Vitamin B1 are found in red meats and fish.

In fact, a 5-ounce serving of roast pork provides all of the Thiamin you need for the entire day. Five ounces of salmon or 4 ounces of tuna packed in water contain half of your daily needed supply. A typical 1/4 cup serving of nuts or 1/2 cup peas has one-quarter of the daily Thiamin you need.

In addition to protein sources, B1 is found in dark green leafy vegetables like Romaine lettuce and spinach. It is also found in lesser amounts in most vegetables.

In comparison, wheat bread and potatoes contain very little.

Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin

Mushroom Caps with Stems Scattered on the Table
If you're fond of mushrooms, enjoy them.
They have lots of Vitamin B. 

If you're fond of mushrooms, then you'll be happy to know that they are super high in several B vitamins compared to other vegetables.

Since dairy products are rich in Vitamin B2, toss some of those mushrooms into a nice low-carb cheese sauce or cream sauce and serve it over your favorite veggie. A pile of asparagus or a bed of spinach would be perfect.
  • eggs
  • red meats
  • poultry
  • and fish
are also good sources of Riboflavin. In fact, a mere 1-1/2 ounces of cheddar cheese contains four times more Vitamin B2 than a skimpy 1/2 cup of wheat pasta.

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Several Hamburgers Cooking in a Skillet
This is a hefty Vitamin B meal:
Hamburgers with mushrooms and a lettuce salad

High sources of Niacin include:
  • red meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • dairy
  • peanut butter
  • green leafy greens
  • nuts
Just 1 cup of cottage cheese, what Dr. Atkins recommended for Phase 2 of Atkins 72, will give you half of your necessary daily supply.

Eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs or an ounce of nuts for a snack, top your 1/3-pound bunless burger with a half-cup of sauteed mushrooms, serve it with a nice salad, and you're done for the day as far as niacin is concerned.

Protein sources are extremely high in niacin.

Vitamin B5 - Folate (Folic Acid)

Steamed Broccoli with Chili Sauce
Steamed broccoli contains half of the folic acid
you need for the entire day.

Lots of Americans are short on folic acid even though:
  • dairy products
  • liver
  • nuts
  • fruits
  • vegetables
are extremely rich in this vitamin.

Without enough folic acid, you will feel exhausted and have problems concentrating. People who complain of being tired all the time and suffering from brain fog often need more folic acid.

Vegetables are your best bet, so low-carb diets are usually not deficient in folate unless vegetable matter is kept to a minimum. In fact, a 1-cup portion of cooked broccoli contains one-half of all of the folic acid you need for the entire day.

You don't have to eat a mound of spinach to get enough, though you can if you enjoy it.
  • asparagus
  • brussels sprouts
  • romaine lettuce
  • green beans
  • avacados
Are all particularly rich in folate.

Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine

Tuna Salad: Lettuce, Eggs, Tomatoes, Tuna, Cucumber, Onions, Carrots
A standard can of tuna supplies all the B6
you need for the whole day.

Like all of the other B Vitamins, B6 is found in rich supply in:
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • and red meats
Just one 1/3-pound serving of red meat or poultry supplies 2/3s of your daily needed supply of B6.

Tuna is even higher.

A standard size can of tuna (about 4-ounces) contains a full day's supply, and so does a 5-ounce serving of salmon.

In addition to typical low-carb protein sources, Pyridoxine is also found in avacado and leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin

Prime Roast Beef on a Platter
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products,
so you don't want to skimp on meat.

Vitamin B12 can be a serious problem for vegetarians and especially vegans as it is only found in animal sources.

However, some soy-based products on the market today have started to fortify their products with Vitamin B12.
  • shellfish
  • crab
  • beef
  • and lamb
are particularly high in Cobalamin, with eggs, swiss cheese, and other dairy products having nice amounts as well. 

For the average low-carber, Vitamin B12 is not a worry.

However, with the way most low carbers are implementing the Nutritional Ketosis approach by lowering the amount of protein they should be eating each day to get higher blood ketone readings on their monitor, Vitamin B12 deficiencies could become more common.

Biotin and Pantothenic Acid

Egg Fried Inside a Bell Pepper Ring
Biotin and Pantothenic Acid are abundant in egg yolks
Found in:
  • egg yolks
  • liver
  • salmon
  • pork
  • avocado
  • cheese
  • most fruits and veggies
Biotin and pantothenic acid are also plentiful in a healthy low-carb diet, but the key word here is healthy. While:
  • red meats
  • poultry
  • fish
  • yogurt
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli
  • peanut butter
  • tomatoes
  • and even yeast
have plenty of biotin and pantothenic acid, many low-carb dieters shy away from healthy foods that contain more than a handful of carbs.

Some of the accusations thrown at Keto are not bogus. Healthy foods are often sacrificed in the name of saving a carb or two.

Pantothenic acid is vital for healthy adrenal function. Without enough pantothenic acid, the body cannot manufacture enough anti-inflammatory hormones. Dr. Atkins considered pantothenic acid to be one of the major dietary problems with a standard American diet.

And the same goes for biotin.

Biotin is essential for the body's stress response to work accurately. Without enough, low-carb dieters will begin to experience hair loss and other adrenal fatigue symptoms.

The Pattern is Obvious: Grains are Not Necessary for Vitamin B

Hot Chicken Wings
It is not necessary to eat whole grains.
You can get plenty of Vitamin B Complex in popular
low-carb foods.

Once you lay out where B-Complex vitamins can be found, as well as the amounts contained in various low-carb foods, it quickly becomes obvious that:
  • red meats
  • poultry
  • fish
  • dairy products
  • fresh vegetables
  • and nuts
all contain as much of the Vitamin B spectrum, and usually a lot more, than is found in grains. The push toward eating lots of bread, pasta, and cereal isn't really about getting enough vitamins and minerals. That's a lie. 

There are plenty of vitamins and minerals in healthy low-carb foods.

The question of whether whole grains are necessary for the body to function properly has nothing to do with getting the artificial vitamins added to processed foods. It's more about marketing and getting people to buy what the whole-grain manufacturers are selling than anything else.

That doesn't mean that whole grains cannot be worked into a healthy lower-carb maintenance plan or that a more balanced approach to weight loss is wrong.

It just means that the argument nutritionists and other medical authorities are using to support their perspective -- that Keto is unhealthy -- falls apart when you look at the real data.

Don't just climb aboard and swallow what the whole-grain foods council wants you to believe. Evaluate the facts for yourself.


  1. Absolutely loving my low carb diet plan. I was confident of loosing excess weight but it was the changes in my energy levels that took me by surprise. I'm a beginner with my low carb diet and have already had great results. Here is where I got started.

  2. That's nice to hear Trish. Keep us posted on your progress. A low-carb diet plan is a great way to shed the extra pounds.

  3. B vitamins are water-soluble. They play an important role in cell metabolism. Thank you for sharing all these natural sources. Really helpful.New chapter vitamins

    1. Thanks. Low-carb diets tend to be high in Vitamin B, but food intolerance and a dislike for eggs or veggies can sometimes make getting enough a bit difficult.

  4. A well designed low carb diet plan can help people lose weight early and is highly effective.


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