Food-related lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as well as human gut commensals such as bifidobacteria can de novo synthesize and supply vitamins. This is important since humans lack the biosynthetic capacity for most vitamins and these must thus be provided exogenously. Although vitamins are present in a variety of foods, deficiencies still occur, mainly due to malnutrition as a result of insufficient food intake and because of poor eating habits. Fermented milks with high levels of B-group vitamins (such as folate and riboflavin) can be produced by LAB-promoted and possibly bifidobacteria-promoted biosynthesis. Moreover, certain strains of LAB produce the complex vitamin cobalamin (or vitamin B12). In this review, fermented foods with elevated levels of B-group vitamins produced by LAB used as starter cultures will be covered. In addition, genetic abilities for vitamin biosynthesis by selected human gut commensals will be discussed.
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