Eating a well-balanced diet is the simplest way to make sure you're getting all the nutrients needed to keep your body moving along at its best. But we know that sometimes you love to get into the nitty-gritty details of specific nutrients, like vitamin B6. So we thought we'd bring you this roundup of the best food sources of vitamin B6.
Before we get to the really fun stuff (food recommendations), let's make sure you understand the basics of this important nutrient.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, plays an important role in our overall health, including helping the body metabolize protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Research shows it plays a role in heart health, cognitive functioning, stimulating blood sugar production, and it may even lessen symptoms of PMS and menstruation, explains Wendy Bazilian, DrPH and registered dietitian nutritionist.
Wondering how much B6 you need? The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1.3 mg. Pregnant and lactating women need a bit more though, and should aim for 1.9 to 2 mg per day, Bazilian tells Byrdie.
Though some people may need to take vitamin B6 supplements, many people can obtain a sufficient amount of vitamin B6 from food alone. "It’s found pretty widely in foods, so it shouldn’t be too challenging to find food sources that you like individually and build them into a flavorful and nutrient-dense diet," she says.
Here are some great food sources of vitamin B6.
Looking to get a lot of B6 from one source? Turkey is a solid choice. Just one serving of turkey (two to three ounces) contains nearly 50% of your daily requirement of B6. You'll be getting other nutrients at the same time too, including zinc and selenium.
"Not just for Thanksgiving, consider adding turkey to your diet by way of a sandwich, on top of a salad, or turkey burgers and meatballs," Michalczyk suggests.
"It's often recommended to incorporate seafood into the diet for its many health benefits, and the amount of B6 salmon contains is definitely one of them," Michalczyk says, adding that salmon is one of the best food sources of B6 you can possibly reach for. In one three-ounce serving of salmon, you'll get about 6mg, or 35% of your daily value of vitamin B6
Of course salmon has many other nutritional benefits, including omega-3s, protein, vitamin D, potassium, and selenium.
Michalczyk recommends adding salmon to your meal repertoire twice a week. Salmon can be prepared in a number of ways that are both nutritious and delicious—roasted, grilled, in salads, and more.
If meat and other animal-based food sources aren't your thing, chickpeas are a great source of vitamin B6. They're also seriously versatile and can be used in hummus, veggie bowls, soup, salads, and plenty of other dishes. Don't worry too much about choosing between dried or canned chickpeas—both are a great option.
If you're looking for something a bit different, Michalczyk recommends chickpea pasta. "[It's] a great way to reap the benefits of B6, plus it contains more protein and fiber than regular pasta," she says.
Avocados are another great plant-based source of B6 containing roughly 20% of the daily value in one cup," Michalczyk says. "They're also a good source of healthy fat, fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and potassium."
The options are endless when it comes to infusing some avocado into your diet. Try it in salads and grain bowls, over toast, with eggs, and more.
We love carrots for their color and crunch, but did you know they're loaded with nutritional benefits, too? Carrots are a great source of many nutrients, including vitamin A and vitamin B6.
"Add them to stir-frys, roast them as a side dish, or snack on them with hummus to reap the benefits of vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber," Michalczyk says.
Just a three-ounce serving of yellowfin tuna will give you .9 mg of vitamin B6, which is more than 50% of your daily value of this important nutrient. Yellowfin tuna is also a good source of protein and pairs well with salads. It's also great grilled, as a tuna burger, and in burritos, grain bowls, and tacos, Bazilian says.
But there is a caveat here. Bazilian cautions people not to go overboard on the tuna consumption because of its fairly high mercury content. "It’s on the ‘higher side’ for mercury," she says. "But most people can enjoy tuna in a varied diet on a fairly regular basis.
By eating just one medium banana, you'll get around .4 mg, or 25% of your daily value, of vitamin B6. Besides being an excellent source of vitamin B6, bananas are also a solid source of potassium. They're also easy to eat on the go and inexpensive—a great fruit to toss in your bag as a go-to snack if you get hungry throughout the day. Just don't forget it's in there (been there, and it's a bit messy).
"Bananas are an athlete's fuel, a childhood favorite that goes well with peanut butter in sandwiches, cereal and milk, or yogurt parfaits/bowls. They are a staple in smoothies to make them creamy," Bazilian says. "And if you blend a frozen banana extra well, you can have a delicious mock ice cream."
Cottage cheese is a good source of vitamin B6, giving you about 12% of your daily value in a one-cup serving. It's also a good source of protein for a modest amount of calories, Bazilian says.
Reach for cottage cheese at breakfast or for a snack throughout the day—it's great with fruit or more savory toppings, spread on toast, or even eaten with crackers. You can also blend cottage cheese into a smoothie or use it to add creaminess to stews and casseroles.
Potatoes are nutrient-dense, fairly inexpensive, and a pantry staple that can be cooked and consumed in many different ways and seemingly fit into nearly any meal of the day. One cup of potatoes gives you .4 mg of vitamin B6, or about 25% of your daily value.
Potatoes seem to have a bad reputation among some people who think they're unhealthy, but that's mostly untrue. You can read all about why, here.
Looking for ideas on how to incorporate potatoes into your diet? Bazilian suggests making an olive oil–based potato salad with herbs, adding sliced potatoes (after cooking and cooling) to salads, adding potatoes to soups, or preparing them as a side dish.
If you normally eat potatoes hot, you may want to give the chilled version a try. "When potatoes are cooled (served cool in potato salad or on/with salads), the resistant starch increases, which has show to increase fat burning and help with satiety, too," Bazilian tells Byrdie.
"If you consume meat, [ground beef] provides protein, iron, and other nutrition, including a good source of B6," Bazilian says. In a three-ounce serving of ground beef, you'll get about .3 mg of vitamin B6, which is 18% of your daily value.
Ground beef can be used to make meatballs, bolognese sauce, taco or burrito filling, or mixed with mushrooms and walnuts to make burgers, Bazilian suggests.
But watch how much beef you're eating per week—consuming a ton of red meat isn't ideal for the climate or for your health.
Lara JJ, Economou M, Wallace AM, et al. Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects. Atherosclerosis. 2007;193(1):213-221.