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Although, current research is discovering that many vitamins and supplements are not necessary, that is not the case with folate and other B vitamins.  But, how much is enough, and what are the best food sources of Vitamin B?

How Much Vitamin B is Recommended?

Here are the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for Vitamin B:

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams per day (depending on age and gender).  Note, very high doses of B6 could result in nerve damage.  No more than 100 milligrams should be taken per day—this high level could ONLY be achieved by taking supplements. 

Food Sources of Vitamin B include:

  • Beans
  • Poultry
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fish
  • Some fruits and vegetables (particularly dark leafy greens, oranges, papayas and cantaloupe)

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): The recommended daily dose, according to the Institute of Medicine is 2.4 micrograms per day.  No upper limit is available.

Food sources of Vitamin B12 include:

  • Fish, poultry and meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Enriched foods (such as rice milk)

The definition of a healthy daily intake of B vitamins isn’t set in stone, and it is likely to change over the next few years as data from ongoing randomized trials are evaluated. In the U.S., folic acid fortification of food has increased the number of adults who have adequate levels of folate in their blood. (33) Yet, only a fraction of U.S. adults are currently getting the recommended daily intake of B vitamins by diet alone.

Folate (Folic Acid and B9): the recommended dose is 400 micrograms per day. The upper limit, according to the Institute of Medicine is 1,000 micrograms (from fortified foods or supplements). Individuals who drink alcohol should get at least 600 micrograms of folate per day from food and supplements/fortification.  A standard multi-vitamin usually has around 400 micrograms of folate.

Food sources of folate include:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Enriched breakfast cereals
  • Fruits and vegetables

To prevent getting too much folic acid, it’s recommended to take the vitamin supplements, and forego the fortified processed foods, such as cereals and energy bars—which are not nearly as healthy as fresh, whole food sources of folate and other B vitamins.

Future Studies on Vitamin B

The recommended level of B vitamins is anticipated to change over the next few years, as more and more randomized clinical trials are conducted, and new data are compiled.

In the United States, fortification of foods, such as breakfast cereals, has helped to lower the incidence of Vitamin B deficiencies.  Yet, despite this, there are only a small number of adults in American who get the recommended level of B vitamins from diet alone.


Although there is a lot of debate about which supplements promote health and prevent disease, the clinical research points to the fact that B vitamin supplementation–particularly folate–for those who may be deficient, lend themselves to lowering the risk of some age-related diseases.  Be sure to consult with your health care provider before taking any type of dietary supplements, and always choose a pharmaceutical grade option-for optimal purity and strength. (CLICK HERE) for pharmaceutical grade folate and other B vitamins.

Click to read: Part 1


Harvard Health