Deep Six your B6?

Wow. There’s been a bunch of bad news lately – and I’m not talking politics or climate change or Ukraine. This bad news has been about taking supplements. Vitamin D3, Vitamin B6, and Fish Oil supplements have all gotten some bad press in the last few months.

Andy and I have been religiously taking Vitamin D3 for several years, partly because it was recommended by Andy’s doctor and partly because we like the idea of strengthening our bones. But in July the New England Journal of Medicine published a government-funded study of Vitamin D supplements and frequency of fractures; it involved over 25,000 participants. The result? “Vitamin D3 supplementation did not result in a significantly lower risk of fractures than placebo among generally healthy midlife and older adults.” This is a big deal, since, according to an article in the NYTimes about the research, millions of Americans take vitamin D supplements and labs do more than 10 million vitamin D tests each year; the Times article states that an editorial published along with the paper offers some blunt advice to these millions of Vitamin D-takers: STOP.

These are like candy. How can we possibly STOP?

Earlier this month, The Atlantic published an article entitled “Fish Oil Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good! No, Wait …”

While The Atlantic article is focused on problematic research involving a fish-oil-based heart drug, called Vascepa, Pieter Cohen, a professor at Harvard Medical School made the comment that…we’ve known for years that fish-oil supplements have virtually no benefits for your average, healthy person. He goes on to say…that hasn’t stopped tens of millions of Americans from popping the pills every day. Clifford Rosen, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, added “People just love to take supplements. It’s religiosity … It’s magical thinking.”

Wynn and Oakley, our dogs, have very shiny, healthy fur. Can we attribute it to this fish oil we give them daily?

The final blow to our supplement intake came in an August 2 NYTimes article which focuses on Vitamin B6. Though we don’t hear as much about B6 as we do about other vitamins, according to WebMd – This hard-working vitamin holds many big jobs. It affects your mood, appetite, sleep, and thinking. You need it to fight off infections, turn food into energy, and help your blood carry oxygen to all corners of your body. While it’s actually rare to run low, you really can’t afford to do so.

A recent British study, though small in size, shows that high amounts of B6 might make us feel less anxious. Andy’s 13-year-old self might have benefitted from that. Who would have thought a camping trip to the High Sierras could cause overwhelming stress? See today’s Andy’s Corner.

Pine Creek to Piute Pass hike in the Sierras

Here’s the bad news – and the good news – about Vitamin B6: As with the other essential vitamins, the body cannot produce B6 on its own, so you can get it only from foods or supplements. But here’s the caveat: most of us don’t need B6 supplements. Most healthy adults get more than enough vitamin B6 from their diets alone, says Dr. Katherine Tucker, a nutritional epidemiologist at UMass Lowell. “It’s widely available in whole foods,” she said, like tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, chickpeas, poultry, dark leafy greens, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe and nuts.

So go ahead and deep six your B6 vitamin pills. And then stock up on…chickpeas! The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams. One cup of canned chickpeas provides 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B6, while three ounces of roasted chicken breast only supplies 0.5 milligrams.

True confession: we like Goya chickpeas better – but can’t bring ourselves to buy them for political reasons
Home-cooked chickpeas are super delicious

We’ve got some great summery recipes with chickpeas – and even an easy back-to-school chickpea curry recipe for those of you whose young’uns are headed that way. When you get tired of chickpeas, check out the other vitamin B6-loaded and d-lish BigLittleMeals recipes we’ve listed below.

And before I share today’s nut-filled, B6-rich new recipe, I just have to show you the supplement my mother made me take as a kid. I’ve searched for years to try to find out more about what it was, and I finally found this photo – with its content listed. I always wondered whether the “Co” in “Cofron” meant it secretly had cocaine :). But no, it was made from copper and fresh liver! No wonder I hid every time my mother pulled out that dreaded bottle – filled with its dark, nasty, livery-colored, yucky liquid – to cure me of whatever ailment I might have.

So here’s to the end of summer with its bounty of locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables – to the demise of Cofron – AND to foods loaded with vitamin B6! Enjoy.


Ottolenghi’s Basic Hummus

Greek Chopped Salad

Spiced Chickpeas and Summer Veggie salad

Arugula, Squash Chickpea, and Walnut Salad

Watercress, Spinach, and Chickpea Soup

School Night Indian Chicken Curry with Chickpeas


Overnight Steel Cut Oats (top with bananas – or with farmers’ market-fresh strawberries and blueberries)


Super Simple Slow-roasted Salmon


Easy White Bean Tuna Salad


Sunflower Seed, Apple, and Kale Salad


Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa (and chicken)


Crunchy Jicama and Orange Salad


Deb’s Granola

Here’s today’s nutty contribution; whether because of good-eating or “lagom or hygge” Scandinavians seem to know how to stay mentally and physically healthy (but I may be biased).

Scandinavian Seed and Nut Loaf

Scandinavian Seed and Nut Loaf

Adapted from Mary Berry and her Love to Cook cookbook

  • butter or oil for greasing pan
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c soft dried dates, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
  • 11/2 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 pecans, chopped (or substitute walnuts and/or almonds)
  • 1/4 c sesame seeds (either toasted or untoasted works)
  • 3 T chia seeds – or 3 T ground flax seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×5 bread pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (note: don’t skip the parchment paper; the loaf will stick to the bottom).

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk well.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix all together.

Pour the mixture into the bread pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes – or until golden brown and firm in the center.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife, carefully remove the loaf from the pan and place on the rack to cool completely.

Slice into thin pieces to serve.  Smoked salmon, cheese, and charcuterie are all wonderful accompaniments. 

The loaf will freeze well.  We suggest slicing it before freezing so you can defrost just what you need.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.


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