Foods That Contain Thiamine & Why Should You Need Them
Foods That Contain Thiamine & Why Should You Need Them

Discover the amazing benefits of eating foods that contain thiamine and why you should include them in your diet for better health.

Rarely many of us keep a check on what we eat, how much we eat and how we eat every day.

Even when we do, we tend to restrict it to the calories intake in a food item that we consume. One of an essential nutrients unavoidable for the proper functioning of the body is Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine.

This post gives you a thorough overview of what Thiamine is, how it is important and what food sources are the best for managing thiamine levels in one’s body.

What Is Thiamine(Vitamine B1)?

Vitamin B1 also known as Thiamin, Thiamine or Aneurine is a water-soluble vitamin and is classified as a B-complex vitamin. It is an essential nutrient that serves several important functions of the body. It is required by the body to maintain the cellular function and thus a broad range of other organ functions.

It is essential for the functioning of the muscular and nervous systems and is important in muscle contracting. It is necessary for electrolyte balance, digestion, metabolism of carbohydrates and turning carbohydrates into other sources of energy.

The human body does not store thiamine. Consequently, the human body might run out of thiamine in as little as 14 days if it is not replenished. Deficiency of thiamine might lead to the degeneration of the whole body, as it is an essential nutrient for metabolic and other functions.

Deficiency of thiamine can cause deficiency diseases like beriberi and/or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome whose main symptoms are severe fatigue along with degeneration of cardiovascular, nervous, muscular and gastrointestinal systems. Thiamine, when taken in excess of the prescribed daily value (DV) is not harmful and can actually enhance the brain functioning.

Small amounts of Thiamine are found in nearly all food items and in substantial quantities in most of the every day ate food items. It might seem odd that deficiency of thiamine is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the U.S. The current prescribed daily value (DV) for vitamin B1 is 1.4mg.

Health Benefits Of Thiamine:

Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is a vital nutrient to the human body. It is essential for maintaining metabolic functions as well as several other roles in the human body. Some of the core functions of Thiamine are as follows:

1. Energy Production:

Health Benefits Of Thiamine
Health Benefits Of Thiamine

Among all the vitamins, Vitamin B1 plays the most critical role in the manufacture of energy from carbohydrates and fats. It acts as the gate-keeper between early carbohydrate breakdown, the energy-rich Kreb’s cycle and electron transport chain.

It plays a central role in energy metabolism and deficiency of this vitamin will impair every important function of the body.

2. Nervous System Support:

Thiamine plays a very important role in the efficient functioning of the nervous system of the body as the brain is one of the most energy-hungry tissues of the body.

Surprisingly, thiamine has also been linked to many varied conditions, from alcohol-related brain disease to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Thiamine also plays a critical role in the structuring and integration of brain cells such that advanced deficiency of this nutrient during a critical period of brain development may lead to severe brain damage.

Foods That Contain Thiamine:

The sure way to get rid from Vitamin B1 deficiency is to incorporate foods rich in Vitamin B1 in your nutritious diet. It is important to know what food you have to take in order to have the right amount of thiamine in your body. Here is a table that contains all the information you need to know about thiamine content in various food items.

Food Serving size Thiamine (mg)
Vegetables and Fruit
Vegetables
Soybean sprouts, cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.28
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.25
Green peas,  cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.22 – 0.24
Lima beans, cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.22
Squash, acorn, cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.18
Potato, with skin, cooked 1 medium 0.10-0.15
Grain Products
Grains
Wheat germ, raw 30 g (¼ cup) 0.5
Corn flour 20 g (2 Tbsp) 0.29
Pasta, white, enriched, cooked 125 mL (1/2 cup) 0.21- 0.29
Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked 12; 5 mL (1/2 cup) 0.16 – 0.21
Cereals
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.72-1.10
Cereal, dry, all types 30 g (check product label for serving size) 0.6
Hot oat bran cereal, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.4
Muesli and granola 30 g (check product label for serving size) 0.22 – 0.30
Oatmeal (1 minute), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.21
Other Grain Products
Breakfast bar, corn flake crust with fruit 1 bar (37 g) 0.37
Bagel, plain ½ bagel 0.27
Breakfast bar, oatmeal 1 bar (47 g) 0.24
Granola bar, oat, fruits and nut 1 bar (43 g) 0.21
Waffle, frozen, cooked 1 waffle 0.19
Bread (white, whole wheat, rye, mixed grain) 1 slice (35 g) 0.10 – 0.17
Milk and Alternatives
Soy beverage, 250 mL (1 cup) 0.16
Meat and Alternatives
Meat
Pork, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.36- 1.05
Pork, ground, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.75-0.77
Pork, ham, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.41
Venison/deer, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.19 – 0.38
Liver (chicken, pork), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.13-0.22
Fish and Seafood
Tuna,yellowfin/albacore, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.38
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.11-0.32
Salmon, Atlantic, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.21 – 0.26
Pickerel/walleye, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.23
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.23
Tuna, bluefin, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.21
Meat Alternatives
Meatless, luncheon slices 75 g (2 ½ oz) 3
Soy burger, vegetarian meatloaf or patty, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2
Meatless (chicken, fish sticks, meatballs), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.70-0.96
Legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils)
Beans (soybeans, black, pinto, adzuki, kidney, lima, navy, roman), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.18 – 0.32
Lentils, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.25-0.28
Baked beans, canned 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.18
Nuts and Seeds
Sunflower seeds, without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.54
Chinese/Japanese chestnuts,  without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.16 – 0.32
Nuts (pistachio, macadamia, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts), without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.12 – 0.26
Tahini/sesame seed butter 15mL (1 Tbsp) 0.19
Soy nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.12
Others
Yeast extract spread (marmite/vegemite) 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 3.56
Source – dietitians.ca

How Much Thiamine Is Required?

So how much thiamine do you need to keep your body functioning normally? Experts say that this depends on your gender and your age.

A pregnant or lactating woman needs higher levels of thiamine than an ordinary woman. If you are suffering from an illness or use the multi-processed food, you may need to be careful about your thiamine intake.

Based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), the amount of vitamin B1 (thiamine) needed is as follows:

Children ages 1-3 years: 0.5 mg per day

Children ages 4-8 years: 0.6 mg per day

Children ages 9-13 years: 0.9 mg per day

Teens & Adults – Males ages 14 years and up: 1.2 mg per day

Teens & Adults – Females ages 14-18 years: 1.0 mg per day

Teens & Adults – Females ages 19 years and up: 1.1 mg per day

Pregnant & Lactating Females: 1.4 mg per day

Deficiency Of Thiamine:

As we have already discussed thiamine is present in most of the food items that we usually consume and thiamine deficiency is not that common amongst individuals. But due to the advent of food processing and other factors like over cooking thiamine deficiency is on the rise. It is also observed to be high among chronic alcoholics and in some other special circumstances.

Now let us examine a few causes of thiamine deficiency.

Causes Of Thiamine Deficiency:

  • Risk Of Dietary deficiency: The risk of dietary deficiency of Vitamin B1 is quite extensive. For example, in the US, nearly 20% of the residents who are above 2 years of age do not take recommended amounts of Thiamine each day. And this is the “enrichment” process that the widely used wheat flour undergoes here (enrichment process adds back the nutrients destroyed by processing).
  • This risk can be substantially lowered if the consumption of processed food items is substituted by minimally processed, fresh whole food diet. At least on the serving of legumes and seeds each will give you at least half of the daily value recommendation of thiamine. If this is supplemented by several servings of vegetables, the required amount of thiamine can easily be accomplished.
  • Some of the other circumstances that lead to thiamine deficiency include old-age, decreased efficiency in absorbing vitamins and chronic alcoholism.
  • It has been observed that people with heart failure, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes etc have increased the risk of thiamine deficiency. Restoring normal thiamine levels may actually prevent further complications of the disease in many of these cases.
  • Even in the absence of such diseases, elderly people have been observed to have an increased risk of being deficient in thiamine. This is speculated to be due to the decreased capability to absorb vitamins due to old age, but no conclusive proof has been attained to prove this true.
  • Thiamine nourishment can also be compromised due to particular substances found in certain food items, but most of these are not food items that we set on our tables everyday (Eg: raw jellyfish, silkworms etc).
  • The best known and important of these factors is alcohol abuse as mentioned earlier. The detoxification of alcohol takes up more thiamine and usually alcoholics eat less thiamine-rich food due to poor dietary habits. They are also observed to have trouble absorbing it in the intestine and urinating out most of the vitamin taken in. This increases the risk for deficiency in alcoholics.

Relationship With Other Vitamins:

The B-Vitamins were historically considered as a complex vitamin as they weren’t originally understood as multiple varied vitamins. The individual B-vitamins interact with each other and overlap and enhance the activity of each other. They work as a team when they are present together.

Vitamin B1 is the best example of how complex vitamins work in that the absorption of Vitamin B1 is compromised when other vitamins are deficient. Vice versa, when Vitamin B1 is severely deficient, it leads to severe diarrhoea which compromises the absorption of the other nutrients.

Risk Of Toxicity:

There hasn’t been any report of toxicity due to excess intake of thiamine as when supply exceeds needs, we just urinate the excess out of the body. Due to this lack of noticeable toxicity, thiamine has no tolerable upper intake level (UL).

Symptoms of Thiamine Deficiency:

Symptoms of thiamine deficiency include severe fatigue, weakness, lack of energy, degeneration of muscular, nervous and gastrointestinal systems. It can lead to severe diseases, especially in the nervous and circulatory systems.

The following are the diseases that can be caused due to or be complicated by the deficiency of thiamine

  • Beri-beri
  • Wernicke’s encephalopathy
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Liver failure
  • Alcoholism

Nutrient Chart:

Nutrient Rating System Chart:

Now, It is not just important to know the foods that contain thiamine, but also to know what is the concentration of nutrients in each food item with respect to the calories that it contains. You want thiamine, but you don’t want to ingest any more calories that you ought to!

Now, we present to you a nutrient rating system chart that will allow you to know which food items are extremely rich in thiamine. The table contains information including the serving size used to calculate, the amount of thiamine contained in a serving.It also represents the percentage daily value (DV) that this amount represents as well as the rating according to WHFoods rating system.

Foods Ranked As Quality Sources Of Vitamin B1
Food Serving
Size
Cals Amount
(mg)
DRI/DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s
Healthiest
Foods Rating
Asparagus 1 cup 39.6 0.29 24 11.0 excellent
Sunflower Seeds 0.25 cup 204.4 0.52 43 3.8 very good
Green Peas 1 cup 115.7 0.36 30 4.7 very good
Flaxseeds 2 TBS 74.8 0.23 19 4.6 very good
Brussels Sprouts 1 cup 56.2 0.17 14 4.5 very good
Beet Greens 1 cup 38.9 0.17 14 6.6 very good
Spinach 1 cup 41.4 0.17 14 6.2 very good
Cabbage 1 cup 43.5 0.11 9 3.8 very good
Eggplant 1 cup 34.6 0.08 7 3.5 very good
Romaine Lettuce 2 cups 16.0 0.07 6 6.6 very good
Mushrooms, Crimini 1 cup 15.8 0.07 6 6.6 very good
Navy Beans 1 cup 254.8 0.43 36 2.5 good
Black Beans 1 cup 227.0 0.42 35 2.8 good
Barley 0.33 cup 217.1 0.40 33 2.8 good
Dried Peas 1 cup 231.3 0.37 31 2.4 good
Lentils 1 cup 229.7 0.33 28 2.2 good
Pinto Beans 1 cup 244.5 0.33 28 2.0 good
Lima Beans 1 cup 216.2 0.30 25 2.1 good
Oats 0.25 cup 151.7 0.30 25 3.0 good
Sesame Seeds 0.25 cup 206.3 0.28 23 2.0 good
Kidney Beans 1 cup 224.8 0.28 23 1.9 good
Peanuts 0.25 cup 206.9 0.23 19 1.7 good
Sweet Potato 1 medium 180.0 0.21 18 1.8 good
Tofu 4 oz 164.4 0.18 15 1.6 good
Tuna 4 oz 147.4 0.15 13 1.5 good
Pineapple 1 cup 82.5 0.13 11 2.4 good
Oranges 1 medium 61.6 0.11 9 2.7 good
Broccoli 1 cup 54.6 0.10 8 2.7 good
Green Beans 1 cup 43.8 0.09 8 3.1 good
Onions 1 cup 92.4 0.09 8 1.5 good
Collard Greens 1 cup 62.7 0.08 7 1.9 good
Summer Squash 1 cup 36.0 0.08 7 3.3 good
Carrots 1 cup 50.0 0.08 7 2.4 good
Tomatoes 1 cup 32.4 0.07 6 3.2 good
Cantaloupe 1 cup 54.4 0.07 6 1.9 good
Kale 1 cup 36.4 0.07 6 2.9 good
Mustard Greens 1 cup 36.4 0.06 5 2.5 good
Turnip Greens 1 cup 28.8 0.06 5 3.1 good
Swiss Chard 1 cup 35.0 0.06 5 2.6 good
Bok Choy 1 cup 20.4 0.05 4 3.7 good
Watermelon 1 cup 45.6 0.05 4 1.6 good
Bell Peppers 1 cup 28.5 0.05 4 2.6 good
Cauliflower 1 cup 28.5 0.05 4 2.6 good
Grapefruit 0.50 medium 41.0 0.05 4 1.8 good
Garlic 6 cloves 26.8 0.04 3 2.2 good
Parsley 0.50 cup 10.9 0.03 3 4.1 good
Cucumber 1 cup 15.6 0.03 3 2.9 good
Cumin 2 tsp 15.8 0.03 3 2.9 good
Mustard Seeds 2 tsp 20.3 0.03 3 2.2 good
Sea Vegetables 1 TBS 10.8 0.03 3 4.1 good
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
good DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%

Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing:

Thiamine is a nutrient that is present in almost all edible substances. Then why is thiamine deficiency so extensive? The answer to this question is given in this section that elucidates on how high amounts of thiamine is lost from food from the various processes these substances undergo like cooking, heating, processing etc.

  • Cooking

Thiamine is highly prone to the risk of damage by heat. Conventional cooking methods, as well as microwaving, reduces the vitamin B1 content of your food by about 20-50%. Roasting may even lead to total removal of thiamine from the grains (prolonged exposure to 300°F for one hour).

  • Processing

It has been observed that multiple levels of processing that includes storage and heating steaming, roasting, etc. destroys the thiamine content of the food substance. This is evident from the increase in instances of beriberi in countries which rely heavily on rice intake.

When these countries started to polish the outer layers off the rice prior to cooking decreased Thiamine level were noticed.The outer layers of rice contain high levels of Thiamine and polishing it off means polishing thiamine off. Processed food grains are likely to have lost a good amount of B1.

A significant amount of thiamine is lost due to over-heating, roasting, cooking, storage and processing. Therefore, it is always better to have fresh, whole foods than processed food items. Make your diet a minimally processed one and be safe from thiamine deficiency.

Hope this article provided you enough idea about why thiamine is needed in your body and what will happen due to its deficiency.So Start checking your food intake and make sure you are taking enough thiamine.

Leave your comments and suggestions below.Stay Healthy

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiamine
  2. Assem, E. S. K. Anaphylactic reaction to thiamine. Practitioner 1973;211:565.
  3. Stiles, M. H. Hypersensitivity to thiamine chloride with a note on sensitivity to pyridoxine hydrochloride. J Allergy 1941;12:507-509.
  4. Schiff, L. Collapse following parenteral administration of a solution of thiamine hydrochloride. JAMA 1941;117:609.
  5. Bech, P., Rasmussen, S., Dahl, A., Lauritsen, B., and Lund, K. The withdrawal syndrome scale for alcohol and related psychoactive drugs. Nord Psykiatr Tidsskr 1989;43:291-294.
  6. http://www.webmd.boots.com/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b1-thiamine
  7. Stanhope, J. M. and McCaskie, C. S. Assessment method and medication requirement in chlormethoazole detoxification from alcohol. Aust Drug Alcohol Rev 1986;5:273-277.
  8. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000339.htm
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Dr. Hitesh Sharma was instrumental in managing various capacties of Wellness/integrative medicine/Diagnostics & pathology for years together. After proving his skills and abilities in the Wellness domain, he then diversified into the Spa and Wellness domain working as an Ayurveda and Lifestyle Consultant.He is currently a Wellness Leader, Head of Body Sciences and manages the Wellness and Spa center at The BodyHoliday, LeSPORT @ Saint Lucia, North America

  • Ishita Bhoyar

    The article is very informative!
    I particularly like the food charts included and the recommendation of thiamine for different ages. Thanks for the references too. I’d like to research more on the topic though the article covers most of the part.

    • Let us know if we can add more useful info for our readers.

  • Harsh Raj Chauhan

    Informative article indeed. Thiamine commonly called Vitamin B1 came into existence in 1910 and is important in the breakdown of carbohydrates from foods into products. Thiamine intake is also available in injections to cure diseases like Beri Beri.
    Another point that I once read that injectionable Thiamine should be avoided by kidney patients.
    W

    • I would say natural way to getting it from food source is best way.Adding the above mentioned best way you can get that.

  • Somin kapoor

    Addition of some more information about the “health benefits of thiamine” like develops myelin sheaths, improves brain function, eye health benefits and perform cardiovascular function would be beneficial for the readers.
    Otherwise its a helpful and impressive article Dr. Hitesh.

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