Thiamin (Vitamin B1) — Top Food Sources, Recommended Intake, and the Dangers & Side Effects of Overconsumption — Between the Sheets

Thiamin (a.k.a. Thiamine, Vitamin B1) is a water-soluble vitamin in the B series, a coenzyme in the metabolism of carbohydrates and branched chain amino acids, and essential for the development and maintenance of cells.

Being water-soluble, it is stored in the liver in small amounts, but has a short half life. This means we need an adequate, ongoing (daily) supply to keep Thiamin levels in the optimal range.

This article will cover the recommended intake levels, why we want to reach those levels (SPOILER: to stay sane and alive), the dangers of overconsumption, and which foods are richest in Thiamin.

Note that all recommended intake figures below are based on the needs of a 31 year old non-pregnant, non-lactating woman on a 2000 kilocalorie diet. Your personal requirements may differ (wildly). One way to figure out your individual needs, including calories per day, is the FooDosage Nutrition Calculator. It’s free, by the way.

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Recommended Thiamin Intake

The recommended intake range for Thiamin, as set by the National Academy of Sciences:

Recommended minimum intake (RDA): 1.1 mg per day

Upper limit: –

Note that your personal requirements may differ depending on your age, sex, pregnancy-, and lactation status.

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Importance of an Adequate Thiamin Intake (Dangers of a Deficiency)

Due to its functions, Vitamin B1 is absolutely essential for human life. As such, the effects of a deficiency are severe.

Light deficiencies, or early stages of a severe deficiency, can cause weight loss and anorexia, confusion, mental symptoms such as short-term memory loss, muscle weakness, and cardiovascular symptoms.

Severy deficiencies commonly lead to one of two manifestations:

  • Beriberi, the main symptoms of which are impaired sensory, motor, and reflex functions. Can end deadly, but is quickly cured by treating the deficiency. Not very common in developed countries, but there are cases.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is more common in the west, befalls mainly chronic alcoholics, and comes in two stages, the first of which (peripheral neuropathy) is life-threatening. The second stage (Korsakoff’s psychosis) comes with short-term memory loss, disorientation, and confabulation (confusion between real and imagined memories). At this point, treating the deficiency does not cure the syndrome in all patients.

While severe Thiamin deficiency is rare in developed countries, some groups are at an increased risk. (See “Special Considerations” below).

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Risks of an Excessive Vitamin A Consumption (Side Effects)

As a water-soluble vitamin, excess Thiamin is usually expelled without complication. As opposed to fat soluble vitamins, liver toxicity is not a danger.

Beyond that, no adverse effects associated with thiamine from food or supplements have been reported. This does not mean that there is no potential for adverse effects resulting from high intakes. Because data on the adverse effects of thiamine is limited, caution may be warranted.

In other terms, any amount of Vitamin B1 you can consume from food sources is most likely fine, but don’t overdo it with supplements (and why would you).

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Special Considerations

Some groups of people are at a higher than normal risk of a Thiamin deficiency, caused by malabsorbtion, and should be especially mindful of their Thiamin levels (and consult a physician).

  • Chronic Alcoholics
  • The Elderly (as a side effect of medication, decreased appetite, or a symptom of other chronic diseases)
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • People with diabetes
  • People who have undergone bariatric surgery

Top 10 Thiamin (B1) Food Sources

The highest concentrations of Vitamin B1 are generally found in whole grains and whole grain products, nuts & seeds, meats, and fish.

Some choice examples of Thiamin rich foods:

Thiamin Leaderboard — FooDosage Nutrition Calculator

Flaxseed

Thiamin (B1) per 100g: 1.64 mg (149% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.31 mg (Corrects for water content and satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 534 kcal

Flaxseed makes for a great addition to our morning bowl of porridge or cereal, and contains the most Thiamin of all palatable foods per 100 grams. Of course, it will be tough to eat enough to reach your daily requirements, but a few spoonfuls in your müsli is certainly a step in the right direction. The protein contents of 18 grams per hundred, at a 92% completeness score (deficient in lysine) are not too shabby either, and they come with a good helping of healthy fats (42 g / 100 g, only 3.6 of which are saturated.). Plus, they contain a lot of fiber (see below).

Flaxseed is also a great source of:

  • Manganese — at 2.48 mg / 100g (138% of RMI)
  • Copper — at 1.22 mg / 100g (138% of RMI)
  • Magnesium — at 392 mg / 100g (123% of RMI)
  • Dietary Fiber — at 27.3 g / 100g (112% of RMI)
  • Phosphorus — at 642 mg / 100g (92% of RMI)

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Macadamia Nuts

Thiamin (B1) per 100g: 1.2 mg (109% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.17 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 718 kcal

Similarly to flaxseed (and nuts & seeds in general), macadamia nuts come with a large amount of Thiamin, but also with a very high energy density, which puts the per 100 gram values in perspective. They are also a very rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids (58 g out of 75 g total fat per 100 grams), but their 7.9 grams of protein only achieve a 4% completeness score, as they are severely deficient in lysene, methionine and cysteine.

Macadamia nuts are also a good source of:

  • Manganese — at 4.13 mg / 100g (230% of RMI)
  • Copper — at 0.76 mg / 100g (84% of RMI)
  • Magnesium– at 130 mg / 100g (41% of RMI)
  • Phosphorus — at 188 mg / 100g (27% of RMI)

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Pork Loin

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (roasted): 1.02 mg (92% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.49 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 209 kcal

One of the best B1 sources out there, and utterly delicious. When we consider the amounts per 100 calories, and how much we can stomach of each of the foods, pork loin even beats out flaxseed, despite the lower absolute amount of thiamine. As a bonus: A very good amount of complete protein, at 29 grams per hundred (roasted).

Please consider buying only organic meats. For the good of these very intelligent animals, your health, and the planet.

Pork loin is also a great source of:

  • Selenium — at 35.1 µg / 100g (64% of RMI)
  • Niacin (B3) — at 5.89 mg / 100g (42% of RMI)
  • Vitamin B6 — at 0.55 mg / 100g (42% of RMI)
  • Phosphorus — at 249 mg / 100g (36% of RMI)
  • Zinc — at 2.53 mg / 100g (32% of RMI)
  • Riboflavin (B2) — at 0.33 mg / 100g (30% of RMI)
  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) — at 0.73 µg / 100g (30% of RMI)

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Naan Bread

Thiamin (B1) per 100g: 0.78 mg (71% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.27 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 291 kcal

(Whole grain) bread in general is one of the best Thiamin sources, but naan bread leads the charts among its peers. At least in terms of per 100 grams values. Once again, its high energy density relativizes those numbers. Beware the sodium content of 465 mg per 100 grams (31%). It is very tasty though.

Naan bread is also a good source of:

  • Selenium — at 27.9 µg / 100g (51% of RMI)
  • Riboflavin (B2) — at 0.51 mg / 100g (46% of RMI)
  • Niacin (B3) — at 5.84 mg / 100g (42% of RMI)
  • Manganese — at 0.51 mg / 100g (29% of RMI)
  • Folate (B9) — at 102 µg / 100g (26% of RMI)

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Oats

Thiamin (B1) per 100g: 0.76 mg (69% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.2 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 389 kcal

Oats, oats, oats! One of our favorite foods here at FooDosage, they make for an excellent way to start the day. Not only is an oat porridge tasty, filling and full of energy that will sustain you until lunch, it’s also a great source of Thiamin. At 17g / 100g, their protein content is not too shabby either.

Oats are also a great source of:

  • Manganese — at 4.9 mg / 100g (273% RDA)
  • Phosphorus — at 523 mg / 100g (75% RDA)
  • Copper — at 0.6 mg / 100g (70% RDA)
  • Magnesium — at 177 mg / 100g (55% RDA)
  • Dietary Fiber — at 10.6 g / 100g (43% of RMI)

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Salmon, Atlantic

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (Cooked, dry heat): 0.34 mg (31% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.17 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 206 kcal

One of the most valuable and delicious foods out there, salmon also contains a good amount of Thiamin, and complete protein at 22 grams per hundred (45%). Of course, its main benefit is are the copious amounts of n-3 fatty acids (omega 3) and Vitamin D, but more on that later.

Please buy organic farmed, or MSC certified fish.

Salmon is also an excellent source of:

  • N-3, (EPA & DHA) — at 2.15 g / 100g (859% of RMI)
  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) — at 2.8 µg / 100g (117% of RMI)
  • Vitamin D — at 526 IU / 100g (88% of RMI)
  • Selenium — at 41.4 µg / 100g (75% of RMI)
  • Niacin (B3) — at 8.05 mg / 100g (57% of RMI)

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Emu Loin

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (Broiled): 0.33 mg (30% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.21 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 152 kcal

What ever happened to emu, “the next red meat”? You probably won’t find it at the supermarket, but if you can find a supplier, you should give emu meat a try. Not only does its nutrient profile make a great impression in our spreadsheets, it’s a much more ecological alternative to beef, for example. It’s a very lean meat (3% fat) and as expected, it comes with a good amount of protein, at 29 grams per hundred (60%). (Completeness: 95%, lacking a bit in tryptophan).

Emu loin is also an excellent source of:

  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) — at 8.71 µg / 100g (363% of RMI)
  • Selenium — at 43.5 µg / 100g (79% of RMI)
  • Vitamin B6 — at 0.85 mg / 100g (66% of RMI)
  • Niacin (B3) — at 9.12 mg / 100g (65% of RMI)
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) — at 3.15 mg / 100g (63% of RMI)
  • and many more..

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Green Peas

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (Boiled): 0.28 mg (26% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.36 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 78 kcal

Yummy, and in the classic combination with carrots, make for a more complete nutrient profile. Because of their low calorie content, they actually fare pretty well in terms of Thiamin contents, and should probably be higher up the list.

Peas are also a source of:

  • Vitamin K — at 24 µg / 100g (27% of RMI)
  • Dietary Fiber — at 4.5 g / 100g (18% of RMI)
  • Manganese — at 0.28 mg / 100g (16% of RMI)

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Deer Loin

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (Broiled): 0.28 mg (100% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.19 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 150 kcal

Game meat in general and deer loin first and foremost contains a respectable amount of thiamine. As a lean (2.4% fat) red meat, it also features 30 grams of complete protein per hundred (62% RMI).

Deer loin is also a great source of:

  • Niacin (B3) — at 10.8 mg / 100g (77% of RMI)
  • Cyanocobalamin (B12) — at 1.83 µg / 100g (76% of RMI)
  • Vitamin B6 — at 0.76 mg / 100g (58% of RMI)
  • Riboflavin (B2) — at 0.51 mg / 100g (47% of RMI)
  • Zinc — at 3.63 mg / 100g (45% of RMI)

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Black Beans

Thiamin (B1) per 100g (Boiled): 0.24 mg (22% of recommended minimum intake.)

Thiamin (B1) per 100 kcal: 0.19 mg (Better comparative value. Corrects for satiation.)

Calories per 100g: 132 kcal

Another legume, black beans provide a fair amount of Thiamine, as well as protein (8.9 g, 18%) and a good helping of dietary fiber (8.7 g, 36%). They also have their taste going for them, and they bring a bit of color variation to the plate.

Black beans are also a source of:

  • Folate (B9) — at 149 µg / 100g (37% of RMI)
  • Manganese — at 0.45 mg / 100g (25% of RMI)
  • Magnesium– at 70 mg / 100g (22% of RMI)

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During the course of writing this article, I realized that grams per 100 calorie is a much more relevant measure than per 100 grams, as it corrects for water content and satiation, therefore providing a better value for comparison. Example: Broccoli didn’t make the cut this time, but if I had sorted by g/kcal, it would have topped the board at 0.6 mg per 100 calories.
What do you think: Should I rank foods by g/kcal in future articles? Let me know in the comment section.

Bon Appetit 🙂

Sources:

http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/DRI-Tables.aspx

https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/nutrient-data-laboratory/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet

https://en.wikipedia.org/


Originally published at www.foodosage.com on May 14, 2017.