On your quest to transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, you might have wondered how you’ll get all of the nutrients and vitamins that an omnivorous diet can offer.
One of the most common queries is about vitamin B8, also known as inositol, and how you can ensure you’re eating enough in plant-based foods.
What are some vitamin B8-rich foods for vegans? Vitamin B8 or inositol can be sourced from many plant-based foods including fruits, nuts, beans, and grains.
If you are deficient in inositol, there are lots of ways you can incorporate these foods into your diet to give yourself a boost of B8.
Switching to a plant-based lifestyle have a steep learning curve, especially when it comes to ensuring you’re getting the right vitamins and nutrients.
If vitamin B8 is your main concern, this guide can help you eat more of the foods that are rich in it, without sacrificing your vegan diet.
What Is Vitamin B8?
Vitamin B8 is commonly referred to as inositol, and despite its name, is not actually a vitamin at all.
Rather, inositol is a type of sugar that gives structure to your cells, and it has many important roles to play within the human body, including affecting serotonin and dopamine, as well as influencing insulin.
We get vitamin B8 by eating foods that contain it, with the most common ones being fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Someone on a vegan diet will usually have no issue eating the one gram a day that the typical US adult has, and will probably go above and beyond this, but that won’t be true for everyone.
Some studies have been conducted into the benefits that vitamin B8 supplements might offer, with some of them showing that taking up to 18 grams a day can be rewarding for your body and mind, in more ways than one.
To ensure you’re getting enough to reap these benefits and not require a supplement, there are certain foods you should be focused on.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B8?
Most of us are able to get a good dose of vitamin B8 in the foods we eat, especially on a vegan diet.
However, with research proving just how beneficial it can be when we supplement up to 18 grams a day, it’s no wonder people are trying to get more into their diets. These are some of the conditions that may benefit from inositol:
Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome can put someone at risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and it involves conditions like high cholesterol and excess fat around the stomach. Studies have shown that taking a supplement of vitamin B or inositol can help to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Mental health: A number of conditions may be helped with an inositol supplement, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression. The studies surrounding vitamin B8 and mental health are still young, but researchers believe there are promising signs.
Polycystic ovary syndrome: Clinical studies have shown that taking a vitamin B8 supplement along with folic acid can reduce the severity of symptoms in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. This condition creates an imbalance of hormones in women which leads to infertility, painful periods, and weight gain.
Diabetes: Both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes may be treatable with a B8 supplement. As inositol directly impacts the function of insulin, your blood sugar levels can be regulated more easily, which might reduce your reliance on other medical interventions.
Respiratory distress syndrome: Some studies of preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome have found inositol to be helpful. This type of sugar can help with breathing issues related to this syndrome and especially in patients with underdeveloped lungs.
7 Vitamin B Rich Foods for Vegans
A vegan diet is loaded with plenty of opportunities for vitamin B-rich foods, so you can reap the benefits for yourself.
To increase your intake of inositol by eating more of the right foods, check out these vitamin B-rich ingredients that are friendly for vegans to enjoy, and what other benefits they offer.
It’s easy enough to eat a bowl of cereal with some plant milk in the morning if you’re a vegan, and doing so will help with vitamin B8 levels as well.
The less processed the wheat is, the better it is at providing you with inositol, so stay away from heavily refined breakfast cereals. These cereals are also great sources of fiber which is important, which means you’re getting more than just B8.
The best cereal of all is wheat bran, and putting just a few tablespoons on top of your regular cereal will ensure you get a good dose of inositol.
You’ll also enjoy other benefits like improved bowel movements, better bowel health, and a healthier weight, so it’s minimal effort for maximum reward.
All vegans are accustomed to eating lentils and they’re probably already a major part of your diet, including being thrown into soups and salads whenever you get the chance.
For those wanting to get more B8 in their bodies, lentils are an incredible source, and it’s thanks to their soy lecithin content, which can also be found in many other vegan-friendly foods.
Dried lentils are better in this regard, so if you can avoid the tinned kind you’ll get an even higher dose, we recommend doing so. Lentils are loaded with nutrients so eating a serving will also provide you with lots of potassium, folate, and fiber.
They’re known for improving heart health, managing cholesterol, and blood pressure, and giving you a boost of iron, so they should be in every vegan’s meal plan.
#3 Fresh Vegetables
There are plenty of reasons one would eat fresh vegetables, especially on a vegan diet, but if you’re looking for more vitamin B8, you can load up even more.
One of the best vegetables for a high dose of inositol is cabbage, so try getting extra servings where possible. Studies have found that fresh vegetables are the best source of vitamin B8 when compared to frozen or dried, so eat as much as possible.
You’ll get a solid dose of fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C, in every serving and sometimes more depending on the vegetable.
Along with their inositol content, fresh vegetables have all kinds of health benefits, and following a vegan diet means you get to enjoy them all. Some of the best benefits include weight management, heart health, and bowel health.
Most vegans likely already eat a good amount of yeast as it is, whether it’s in their daily piece of toast, in brewer’s yeast found in beers, or with the nutritional yeast flakes that they use for cooking.
However you get it, it’s a great source of vitamin B8 and has plenty of other benefits for your health, physical appearance, and mental wellbeing as well.
The best thing that yeast can do for us is improving the health and function of our digestive system, and it’s also naturally part of the bacteria makeup that exists in our gut.
Eating yeast makes it easier for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals, and it can strengthen your immune system to fight disease.
The high inositol content of these different kinds of yeast will ensure you’re getting enough to reap the benefits of this sugar as well.
#5 Fresh Fruits
We should all eat two serves of fruit a day to reap the benefits, but there are some better than others when it comes to B8 content.
Bananas and cantaloupes are two that you should be focusing on, and they have plenty more to offer than just inositol.
Those who prefer citrus fruits will be pleased to know they’re also high in inositol, but steer clear of lemons if you’re trying to get more of this sugar.
As with vegetables, it’s best to eat fruit fresh to get more of the B8 content, but there are still benefits to enjoying dried and frozen fruits as well.
Raisins are the best option if you prefer dried fruit to get your daily dose of inositol, with a half cup a day being equal to one serving of fresh fruit.
Overall, the benefits of eating more fruit are plentiful, including everything from better skin to a happier digestive tract.
#6 Dried Beans
Beans are another food that features heavily in a vegan diet, and you likely use them in place of meat in many of your favorite dishes.
Dried beans are a food high in inositol as well, so if you’re eating plenty of them, you’re probably already getting a good dose. The best types of beans for vitamin B8 content are kidney beans, peas, and pinto beans, with the dried variety being even better.
Eating beans comes with loads of benefits for the body and they should be a staple in any plant-based diet.
A serving of beans will provide you with iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and folate, so they’re powerful for their size, plus they can be eaten in a number of ways.
Vegetarians and vegans will find them especially helpful as a source of protein, proving that you don’t have to eat meat just to get a decent dose.
#7 Dark Chocolate
If you ever needed an excuse to chow down on some chocolate, this is it. Inositol can be found in chocolate, both milk and dark, and because the nondairy kind has a higher ratio of cacao beans in it, it’s actually better for you.
Just be careful with portion control when you’re treating yourself to chocolate, even if it is in the name of good health.
Dark chocolate should not contain any milk, milk solids, or anything with dairy in it to be classified as vegan, so look for at least 80% cocoa to give you an idea of what’s out there.
However, it comes with loads of other health benefits including delivering a big boost of antioxidants, reducing your risk of heart disease, and improving brain function, just to name a few.
If you’re planning on going vegan, you need a good understanding of the different vitamins and nutrients that might be hard to get while you’re on this type of diet.
To give you the basics and ensure you have everything you need, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions that can help.
How Do Vegans Get Iron?
There are lots of plant-based iron sources that you can switch to when you give up meat, including dried beans and legumes, dried fruits, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
If you do find that you need additional iron, taking a daily iron supplement or eating more foods that have been fortified with iron, like certain breakfast cereals, can help.
What Does B12 Do For Vegans?
B12 is an important part of a plant-based diet and one of the most commonly supplemented vitamins for vegans because it can be hard to achieve from plant-based foods alone.
Without B12, the deficiency can cause damage to your nervous system and anemia, among other health issues, so it’s crucial to get your daily intake correct.
What Are Plant-Based Protein Sources?
The best high protein plant-based foods are lentils, chickpeas, almonds, peanuts, soy, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa, so there’s no need to eat meat and dairy just to get enough.
Ensuring you’re meeting your daily protein needs is essential for good health, as well as keeping satisfied while you follow a vegan diet.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.