Food is medicine cheat sheet!

B-Vitamin Food Tips

  1. Liver
    It’s odd for critics to disparage the Paleo diet for “eliminating entire food groups” because most mainstream diets do the same; eliminating not just any old food group, but our ancestors’ most treasured food group– organ meats. All types of organ meat are nutrient dense, but liver is particularly rich in B vitamins, especially our all-star trio of B6, B9, and B12. Many people don’t like the taste/texture of liver, but it definitely grows on you. Try pan-frying it with some olive oil and serving it with a squeeze of lemon.
  2. Walnuts
    Walnuts are a great source of B6 as well as B9.Walnuts make great additions to salads. You can gently roast them or, for a different texture, try soaking them for 6-8 hours before you eat them.
  3. Fatty Fish
    Fatty fish, particularly mackerel, sardines, trout, and salmon, are among the richest dietary sources of B12.As an added bonus, they are also very rich in omega-3. This is important because omega-3 works synergistically with B vitamins to reduce homocysteine, thus preventing the conditions associated with high homocysteine, especially cognitive decline.6,7,
  4. Fruits and Veggies
    Individual fruits and vegetables can’t compare, for example, with liver when it comes to B6 and B9. However, within the context of the Paleo Diet, fruits and vegetables as a whole are significant and necessary contributors of these two B vitamins. Some particularly good choices for B6 are bell peppers, okra, shiitake, broccoli, and cauliflower. Good choices for B9 include spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries, and zucchini.
  5. Heal Your Gut
    A common problem regarding B12 is inadequate absorption (as opposed to insufficient consumption.) Having low stomach acid and/or low gastric intrinsic factor (GIF) impedes B128In natural food sources, B12 is bound to protein and gastric acid is required to cleave the vitamin. Moreover, the same cells that produce gastric acid also produce GIF, a compound required for B12 absorption.9
  6. According to a 2013 JAMA study, the use of medications that suppress stomach acid, including proton-pump inhibitors, H2 blockers, and other antacids, can interfere with B12 absorption.10If you are taking them, you might want to consult with your doctor to determine whether they are really necessary.  By following the Paleo Diet, you’ll remove cereals and other foods that can damage your gut while eating foods that strengthen it. You may consider adding bone broth to your diet, which can further improve gut health. Finally, for many people, supplementation with probiotics may be an appropriate strategy for gut health improvement.



Most of the existing research suggests that DNA methylation relies at least in part on folate, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and choline, in addition to other vitamins and minerals.

Increasing your intake of these nutrients may help to support DNA methylation, preventing certain genes from being expressed.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that adults consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate per day. Women who are pregnant or nursing should consume closer to 600 mcg.

Good sources of folate include:

  • dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach or mustard greens
  • asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • nuts and beans, such as peanuts and kidney beans
  • citrus fruit, such as oranges or grapefruit

Vitamin B-12

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B-12 for adults is 2.4 mcg. Food sources containing vitamin B-12 tend to be animal products, so if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, make sure to pay attention to your vitamin B-12 intake.

Food sources of vitamin B-12 include:

  • meat, particularly beef liver
  • fish or shellfish, particularly clams
  • chicken
  • eggs
  • nutritional yeast

Vitamin B-6

The NIH recommends that adults between the ages of 19 and 50 consume 1.3 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B-6 per day, while older adults should get slightly more.

Food sources of vitamin B-6 include:

  • fish
  • poultry, such as chicken, turkey, or duck
  • organ meats, such as liver, kidney, or tongue


The recommended daily dose of choline differs between adult men and women. Women should aim for 425 mg, while men should get 550 mg.

Foods that contain choline include:

  • meat, especially beef and beef liver
  • fish, such as salmon, scallops, and cod
  • eggs
  • cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower

Methylation Basics

Methylation is the transfer of one carbon methyl group from one molecule to another that either activates or deactivates that molecule. It is the process by which our epigenetics regulate gene expression.

This single carbon metabolic process is mediated by enzymes such as methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), and cystathione beta-synthase (CBS).

Each person’s genetic fingerprint in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) dictates how efficiently these enzymes work.

Methylation is greatly dependent on the presence of certain nutrients that act as co-factors to keep the process moving smoothly.

These methylation nutrients include choline, betaine, methionine, folate, vitamins B12 and B6, as well as certain minerals like magnesium, zinc and sulfur.1

Methylation is critical to a multitude of metabolic processes including:

  • Cell division, DNA and RNA synthesis
  • Detoxification and hormone biotransformation
  • Neurotransmitter biosynthesis
  • CNS development and neural tube formation
  • Histamine clearance
  • Phospholipid synthesis
  • Myelination of peripheral nerves

Super-charged Methylation Foods

Dark leafy greens

When you think folate, think foliage. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, bok choy, escarole, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and lambs quarters are excellent sources of folate, B vitamins, and magnesium.

Cruciferous vegetables

Aside from being detoxification superfoods, crucifers are also considered methylation adaptogens thanks to their sulforaphane and folate content. Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and radish.


This organ meat is one of the most abundant sources of folate, choline, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B12 as well as methylation mineral cofactors like copper, zinc, iron and chromium. Pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins put a strain on methylation pathways, so organic grass fed beef liver or organic free-range chicken liver are strongly recommended.


Beet root and their green leafy parts are nearly always included as part of optimal “methylation diets” because they are very high in betaine, a choline metabolite that acts as a methyl donor.


Popular in the southern United States, as well as certain parts of southeast Asia and the Middle East, okra is high in vitamin B6, B1, copper, magnesium and manganese – all important nutrient co-factors supporting proper methylation.


Mushrooms, particular shiitake mushrooms, are considered methylation adaptogens, because of their demonstrated ability to reduce serum homocysteine levels.5 They contribute choline, vitamin B5, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to the diet, as well as copper and selenium.6,7


Seeds are tiny nutrient powerhouses, high in folate, B vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin seed are potent sources of choline, magnesium and folate. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamins B1 and B6, folate, magnesium, copper, choline, betaine, and selenium. Sesame seeds are great sources of choline, thiamin, niacin, folate, copper, zinc, magnesium, and manganese.


Curcumin, a key phytonutrient in turmeric, is renown for its wide range of impressive health benefits. It is also a source of dietary choline, and has been shown to be a methylation adaptogen because of its ability to influence DNMT.


This popular herb contains some folate, but that’s not what makes it a methylation dynamo. Rosmarinic acid, one of the main phytonutrients in rosemary, is considered a methylation adaptogen because of it has been shown to regulate DNMT. Rosmarinic acid is present in both dried and fresh rosemary.


The phytonutrients present in berries, including anthocyanins, cholorogenic acid, ellagic acid and quercetin are epigenetically active, making them potent methylation adaptogens.8 Different berries contain different phytonutrient profiles, so it’s best to choose a variety of them, such as black currents, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, and blackberries.


Epigallocatechin gallate, catechins and other flavanols may also benefit methylation activity. Researchers suspect that these phytonutrients may be able to favorably impact tumor suppressor genes via methylation.9

A methylation balancing dietary approach underscores the benefits to obtaining most of one’s nutrient needs through food, as there are other compounds within food that work synergistically with one another to support human health.

Methylation is a key pathway by which a healthy diet with methylation foods can influence optimal gene expression, thereby promoting overall health and wellness.

Test and not guess!

Debbie Potts

Health & Fitness Coach, Author, & Speaker

Host of ‘The Low Carb Athlete’ Health Building Podcast

‘The WHOLESTIC Method’ Coaching Program