The B vitamins help your body metabolize carbs, including sugar, into energy. But that doesn't mean eating too much sugar depletes your body of its Bs. However, if you're trying to improve your health and get more B vitamins in your diet, cutting back on sugary sweets might be the way to go.
About B Vitamins
Riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, vitamins B-6 and B-12 and biotin are the vitamins that make up the B-complex. You need to include rich sources of these water-soluble vitamins in your daily diet because your body is unable to store them. Because these vitamins are found in a variety of foods, deficiencies of them are rare, according to the Colorado State University Extension, with the possible exception of vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate.
B Vitamins and Sugar Metabolism
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate made up of two molecules, glucose and fructose. Enzymes in your digestive tract break the two molecules apart so they can be absorbed into your bloodstream. The B vitamins, specifically thiamine, niacin and biotin, help turn those sugars into the energy that fuels your muscles and brain.
Sugar in the Diet
Added sugar, which includes a range of sweeteners such as granulated sugar, brown sugar, malt syrup, liquid fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, provide calories but offer no nutritional value and are not a source of B vitamins. About 16 percent of the calories in the U.S. diet come from added sugar, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A 2013 article written by Dr. Mike Roussell and published in Shape magazine suggests that it's not that sugar directly depletes the body of B vitamins, but that we have to get more of these vitamins in our diet to metabolize the nutrient-deficient refined carbs.
Limit Your Sugar, Get More Bs
Replacing your sugary sweets with more nutrient-rich foods is a good way to improve the quality of your diet. The American Heart Association suggests that women limit their intake of foods with added sugar to 100 calories a day and men to 150 calories a day. Instead, fill your diet with foods that help boost your intake of B vitamins, including whole grains, leafy greens, lean proteins, beans, milk and nuts.
- Shape: Ask the Diet Doctor: Sugar and B Vitamins
- American Heart Association: Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Hillsborough Community College: Nutrients Involved in Energy Metabolism and Blood Health
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Digestion and Metabolism of Sugars