Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vitamin B Deficiency: Latest Wheat-Free Scare Tactic Debunked

Have you heard the latest scare tactic against wheat-free eating? A wheat free diet will give you vitamin B deficiencies. Since wheat flour is fortified with B vitamins, substituting wheat-free food will make you sick because wheat-free flour isn't fortified, and bread and cereals are such a major source of B vitamins, says Holly Strawbridge, Executive Editor of Harvard Health Letter. Dietitian Kristi King over at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agrees. Are they right? Let's look at the evidence.

How much vitamin B is in, say, a slice of wheat bread? The yellow row in the table has the answer; the top row is the recommended daily intake of the vitamins. (Click the lower right corner to enlarge)

There's NO vitamin B6 or B12 in the bread, and compared to the recommended daily intake levels, there's only a little bit of the other vitamins.  Fortified cereals have more vitamins, but (as with bread) the B vitamins are added by law because refined wheat flour is stripped of nutrients. Wheat flour is empty calories with added vitamins.

However, a diet high in grains is recommended by the USDA, not forward thinkers like cardiologist Dr. William Davis, paleontologist Dr. Loren Cordain and others in the low-carb and paleo camps who recommend ditching the wheat. They specifically recommend a diet of real foods like those in the table: meat, eggs, nuts, fish, and vegetables. Some of the foods have way more B vitamins than bread (plus other nutrients not in the table). Almost everything has more B6 and riboflavin, and practically everything from an animal has more niacin and B12. If you're concerned about folate, you'll get over three times more by eating a hamburger patty and a cup of romaine lettuce than a slice of enriched wheat bread.

Yes, a wheat-free diet of junk food can give you nutritional deficiencies. (Does anyone old enough to buy her own groceries need to consult a nutritionist to find this out?) But unless you're living on Wheaties, a variety of plant and animal foods will probably provide more B vitamins than a diet based on wheat flour.

 Note: the part about pellagra has been deleted since the disease has to do with improperly prepared corn flour, not wheat flour.

4 comments:

Larcana said...

Yes, I have been gluten free 33 years and have no vitamin deficiencies..my lipid profile is great as well because I eat lowcarb. Oh well, the curtain will come down on the nutritionists soon.

Lori Miller said...

I hope you're right.

Exceptionally Brash said...

This is the same kind of crap Becky Hand tried, when she insisted that people eat hearthealthywholegrain for all the wonderful b vitamins and that people who followed a low carb diet would be deficient. It is such a lie, as I pointed out when I went to the nutrition tables and actually looked up real non-fortified grain products. She never responded to that message.

Lori Miller said...

You can't fight faith with facts.