Vitamin B6 is vital for your body, but it is also a nutrient that isn’t stored much in the body, requiring you to ensure a steady supply. So how can you up that vitamin B6 intake? How about starting with this list of vitamin B6 rich foods that cater to all dietary restrictions – there are options that are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. So you can tuck into meals that are healthy and delicious and elevate that B6 in your diet effortlessly!
Vitamin B6 is involved in no less than a hundred different enzyme reactions, making it a nutrient that has a role to play in multiple crucial systems in the body. For one, it creates the antibodies you need to battle illness and pathogens; it is involved in the production of hemoglobin; it also helps maintain normal glucose levels and normal nerve function; plus, your body needs it to break down and utilize the proteins you consume in your diet.1
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg for adults. Pregnant women need 1.9 mg and nursing mothers require 2 mg of the nutrient. Adults over 51 also need a higher amount of the nutrient –1.7 mg for males and 1.5 mg for females.2
When it comes to foods that give you the vitamin, you need to go by the daily values (DVs) to gauge how rich they are in vitamin B6 and how they measure up in terms of serving size. The updated numbers from the Food and Drug Administration peg the DV for vitamin B6 at 1.7 mg for adults. A percentage DV calculation will give you an idea of how much of your daily requirement is met by a serving size of food. Anything that gets you to 20% DV or more is a rich source of a nutrient. Which means if you see foods that have vitamin B6 of 0.34 mg or more per serving, they are a good source of the vitamin.3 Here’s a ready reckoner of a diverse set of foods that are rich in the vitamin.
If you’re trying to stick to healthy protein sources or enjoy your seafood, fish is a great way to have your vitamin B6. It can also be quite versatile – you could make creamy fish-based spreads to go with some sourdough bread, grill some off with a twist of lime and some herbs, bake a fish pie, make crunchy croquettes, or cook up a dish full of more-ish seafood stew. Here’s a look at some of the fish most rich in vitamin B6.
- Yellowfin tuna, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 0.88 mg (51.8% DV)4
- Pink salmon, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 0.59 mg (34.7% DV)5
- Mackerel, cooked (dry heat), 3 oz: 0.32 mg (18.8% DV)6
3 oz portion of roast pork tenderloin: 0.63 mg (37.1% DV)
Pork doesn’t have to be too sinful if you have a lean cut like roast pork tenderloin. A 3 oz portion contains 0.63 mg (37.1% DV)7 Have your tenderloin simply seasoned and grilled to caramelized perfection to make the meat shine. Or use the meat in a slow cooker recipe with delicious peppers and tomatoes and some spices. If you’re expecting guests, nothing goes down better than some smoky pulled pork drizzled with barbecue sauce and accompanied by perfectly melted down onions. You can slap leftovers between two slices of bread for a quick meal the next day!
Enjoy your meats? A 3 oz portion of beef tenderloin steak trimmed of its fat and grilled gives you 0.58 mg or 34.1% DV of vitamin B6.8 You could also broil the tenderloin with ginger, sesame, soy, or other Asian flavors. Or rub it down with your secret spice blend and serve it with a delicious creamy mustard sauce. You could also slice your cooked tenderloin really thin and use it to top some fresh baguette.
3 oz portion of beef tenderloin steak: 0.58 mg (34.1% DV)
Prefer your beef in a good old-fashioned burger? A ground beef patty has 0.3 mg or 17.6% DV of the nutrient.9 If you’re up for some offal, the liver is another way to get in vitamin B6. But don’t have it too often because the vitamin A in it can prove toxic in very large amounts. A 3 oz serving of braised liver has 0.86 mg (50.6% DV) of vitamin B6.10
1 cup of sliced bananas: 0.55 mg (32.4% DV)
If all this talk of meat and fish has you looking for a vegetarian source of B6, bananas can be a really handy way to take in the nutrient. A cup of sliced banana contains 0.55 mg – that’s 32.4% DV. If you prefer to eat your banana whole, just as fruit, you’ll get 0.43 mg or 25.3% DV from 1 medium-sized fruit.11 Bananas work as a quick breakfast with cereal or toast, a pre- or post-workout snack, and also in delicious desserts. It really is up to you whether you want to have them in your granola with yogurt or in a decadent banoffee pie!
- 3 oz serving of roast chicken: 0.5 mg (29.4% DV)
- 3 oz serving of roast turkey: 0.4 mg (23.5% DV)
If you are on the lookout for quick and easy-to-cook proteins that contain vitamin B6, how about some poultry? A 3 oz serving of roast chicken breast contains 0.5 mg of vitamin B6, while a similar serving of turkey also gives you a good 0.4 mg of the vitamin. Which means you’ll get 29.4% DV or 23.5% DV depending on your choice of poultry.12 Both cook really quickly and can be adapted to a range of cuisines and palates due to their mild flavor. Even the fussiest eater will happily down some chicken tenders! A lean turkey and vegetable sandwich or roast chicken salad can be a light lunch. If you’d like more spice, a Korean recipe or perhaps even a spicy Indian tandoori or curry recipe can be the perfect way to enjoy your chicken or turkey.
1 ounce of pistachios: 0.48 mg (28.2% DV)
An ounce of pistachios has 0.48 mg of vitamin B6 – that’s 28.2% DV without much effort.13 Middle Eastern and North African cooking use pistachios in clever ways, including in the sweet crunchy baklava. You might also enjoy them in your cakes and cookies or tossed into your cereal. They work really well in dips like hummus or in salads for some crunch. Or just nibble on some roasted nuts for that B6 power-up anytime during the day.
Other nuts don’t compare to pistachios when it comes to this vitamin. For instance, an ounce of almonds has just 0.04 mg of vitamin B6, which is a meager 2.4% DV.14
1 cup of boiled spinach: 0.44 mg (25.9% DV)
Fancy some greens in your diet? Spinach gives you 0.44 mg of vitamin B6 to the cup of boiled greens. Which means you get 25.9% DV from this leafy veggie per serving.15 Wilt some spinach for a quick add-on to a main meal or make it shine in a spinach and cottage cheese curry. If you’re able to get your hands on some really fresh produce, use the spinach leaves in a salad dressed with yogurt or in a quick pasta.
8. Beans, Lentils, And Peas
Vegans, vegetarians, and bean lovers can get their fix of vitamin B6 from some easily available lentils, beans, and peas. Toss them into a slow cooker with a mix of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices of your choice for a delicious and filling meal. Or blitz them into dips to go with vegetable crudites or your favorite bread. Make taco or enchilada fillings with them. And if you are a meat eater, you could add some beans to a hearty stew to make it even better! These beans and lentils rack up the most points on the B6 front, so look out for them in the store.
- Soybeans (mature), 1 cup, boiled: 0.40 mg per cup (23.5% DV)16
- Pinto beans, 1 cup, boiled: 0.39 mg (22.9% DV)17
- Lentils, 1 cup, boiled: 0.35 mg (20.6% DV)18
- Chickpeas, 1 cup, boiled: 0.23 mg (13.5% DV)19
- Kidney beans, 1 cup, boiled: 0.21 mg (12.4% DV)20
1 cup of cubed avocado: 0.39 mg (22.9% DV)
A cup of cubed avocado has 0.39 mg of vitamin B – that’s 22.9% DV.21 Reason enough to start topping your toast with some or serving up a fresh avocado dip to go with meals. Avocado also makes heavenly smoothies thanks to its already creamy texture. Or make your salads feel more indulgent without the guilt by tossing in some cubes of avocado.
10. Sunflower Seeds
Sesame seeds have a little less of the nutrient – 0.23 mg or 13.5% DV to the ounce. But it can be scattered over everything from cereal to a spicy stir-fry for a hint of nuttiness and can contribute to your daily intake.22
Sunflower seeds have about 0.38 mg of vitamin B6 or 22.4 % DV to the ounce.23 Use the seeds in your cereal, oatmeal, or granola to add crunch and vitamin B6. Or bake them into your next loaf of home-baked bread or muffins. If you really enjoy the seeds, you might even enjoy having them on their own, roasted off with a little salt and perhaps a hint of some spice.
11. Potatoes And Sweet Potatoes
- 1 medium baked potato: 0.37 mg (21.8% DV)
- 1 medium baked sweet potato: 0.33 mg (19.4% DV)
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are a crowd pleaser and also contain a fair bit of vitamin B6. Roast them off in the oven with herbs like rosemary or make desserts like sweet potato pie with them. You probably have your own tried and tested family favorites, so go ahead and enjoy making them! A medium baked potato eaten skin and all gives you 0.37 mg of vitamin B6 – that’s 21.8% DV.24 A medium sweet potato gives you nearly as much, with the flesh containing 0.33 mg (19.4% DV).25
Another brassica vegetable, Brussels sprouts also have a fair bit of the nutrient. 1 cup of the boiled sprouts contains 0.28 mg – that’s 16.5% DV.26
Broccoli is a delicious addition to any stir-fry, whether it is Asian style with some soy and sesame and meat, or simply tossed through with garlic and olive oil. Bake it into a gratin or grill it so it begins to develop a slight char that is oh-so-delicious. You might even like a simple broccoli soup with some toasted bread. A cup of the boiled vegetable has 0.31 mg of vitamin B6, offering 18.2% DV.27
13. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a healthy way to get your B6. A cup of cooked medium-grained brown rice has 0.29 mg or 17.1% DV of vitamin B6 in it.28 Use the rice as an accompaniment to your protein. Or fill halved peppers, onions, or tomatoes with a bean or herb and spice flavored rice before baking them off – add in some wild rice for more bite. You may also find you like the rice in pilafs instead of staple white rice varieties like basmati or jasmine rice. Another whole grain, bulgur contains 0.2 mg or 11.8% DV to the cup of boiled grain.29 You can use it in salads or as a substitute for rice in some recipes.
- 1 cup of cooked medium grained brown rice: 0.29 mg (17.1% DV)
- 1 cup of cooked bulgur: 0.2 mg (11.8% DV)
Toasted wheat germ cereal is quick and easy to include B6 in your diet and a typical 1 oz serving contains 0.28 mg (16.5% DV).30 Some breakfast cereals that come fortified with 25% DV of vitamin B6 are another option for you to experiment with if you need quick and easy sources of the nutrient.31
1/2 cup of prunes: 0.18 mg (10.1% DV)
Prunes make a convenient, off-the-shelf way to get B6 in a form that needs no further cooking. Half a cup of these dried plums gives you 0.18 mg of the nutrient, which is the equivalent of 10.1% DV.32 But if you want to take it a little further, bake a pie or a sticky pudding with these dried plums. Or incorporate it into your main meal by making some braised pork or spiced red cabbage with some sweetness from the prunes.
Whatever your dietary preferences, you shouldn’t find it too hard to get adequate vitamin B6. All it takes is a little care and attention now that you are well armed with this information on some of the best dietary sources of the nutrient.
|↑1||Vitamin B6. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2, ↑9, ↑12, ↑29, ↑31||Vitamin B6. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑3||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Fish, tuna, yellowfin, fresh, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑5||Fish, salmon, pink, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑6||Fish, mackerel, Pacific and jack, mixed species, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Pork, fresh, loin, tenderloin, separable lean only, cooked, roasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Beef, loin, tenderloin steak, boneless, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 0” fat, all grades, cooked, grilled. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, braised. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Bananas, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Nuts, pistachio nuts, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Nuts, almonds. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Soybeans, mature cooked, boiled, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Beans, pinto, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑18||Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑19||Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑20||Beans, kidney, all types, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑21||Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑22||Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, roasted and toasted. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑23||Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑24||Potatoes, white, flesh and skin, baked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑25||Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑26||Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑27||Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑28||Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑30||Cereals ready-to-eat, wheat germ, toasted, plain. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑32||Plums, dried (prunes), uncooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|