Food Sources for Vitamin B1 Thiamine

Vitamin B1, commonly known as Thiamine or Thiamin, is one of the more difficult vitamins to obtain in a diet.  This is compounded by the fact that thiamine is a water soluble vitamin which means excess amounts are not stored by the body, but instead flushed out of the body with urine. The result of this is that thiamin  must be consumed on a daily basis.

Food Sources of Thiamine

Being a vitamin that contributes in many chemical reactions, it helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Additionally, Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is essential as it improves in functions of the nervous system, heart and muscles. So learning more foods containing Thiamine high is a good idea for us.

Cereals and Grains

The healthiest sources of food to obtain Vitamin B1 is whole grain foods and cereals. These sources do not need to be cooked and there is little risk of the Thiamine being washed away in water.

Food made from unprocessed cereals and grains provide high amounts of thiamine compared to processed foods. This is because most of the vitamin is lost during processing. Examples of cereals and grains that are high in thiamine include brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, pastas, brown rice, and fortified breads.

Fruits and vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are another great, and healthy source. Although at much lower levels than whole grain foods, they contain almost no calories, which means the vitamin B1 is available for other foods.

Although they are significant foods high in thiamine, they are considered to contain low levels of thiamine. However, to acquire high levels of thiamine from these foods, you must be willing to consume them in large quantities. Experts recommend fresh fruits and vegetables as they contain more of the vitamin than dried or frozen ones. Best fruits and vegetables high in thiamine include pineapples, oranges, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts among others.

Beans and nuts

These are also among foods rich in thiamine. These foods also contain protein making excellent sources of proteins for vegetarians. Types of beans and nuts high in thiamine include soybeans, pinto beans, lima beans, pecans and Brazil nuts.

Lean meat and dairy products

These foods are also considered as thiamine rich foods. Lean meat, precisely, provide high amounts of thiamine that other meat. Milk and other dairy products are also significant sources. However, studies reveal that milk contain low amounts of thiamine therefore, to get the required amount from milk, one is recommended to consume large amounts of it. Do not consume raw milk, and lean milk should be fried to prevent this vitamin from getting destroyed.

Besides thiamine, dairy products also contain high amounts calcium for strong bones and teeth; protein that helps repair muscles and serves as energy source; potassium maintains normal blood pressure, and phosphorus for strengthening bones and generating energy. They also have Vitamins A, B12, D, riboflavin (B2), and niacin which help in metabolizing sugars and fatty acids.

Other affordable (and available) foods high in thiamine include fish especially tuna and salmon, garlic, and pork. Weight loss is also another benefit besides thiamine provided by Tuna therefore listed among the best types of fish to eat when you want to lose weight. Garlic on the other hand contains anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and inflammatory agents hence used in natural remedies.

Finally, there are random foods that contain high amounts of Thiamine, but be careful with these sources as cooking, waste water, and excess calories in the food, can all diminish the effectiveness of the food as a source of Thiamine.  Some of these foods include potatoes, brown rice, liver and eggs.


One important aspect of Thiamine ( Vitamin B1) in regards to intake in a diet is the fact that it can be destroyed during cooking process. Thiamine can also be removed from food while boiling and will be found in the water used for cooking. For this reason, whenever possible, use the water for soups or other foods.  It is also important to know that the amount of vitamin B1 that is required by the body depends on carbohydrate and calorie intake.  The more calories you eat, the more Thiamine you will need to convert it into energy.

The recommended daily minimum levels of vitamin B1 is 1.5mg. However, similar to vitamin C, great health benefits have been seen by consuming much more than the recommended daily allowance. In the case of Thiamine, the major health benefits have been increased memory and better brain functioning. Because vitamin B1 is removed from the  body, the dangers associated with consuming too much are minimum.

Thiamine is used in the body to convert carbohydrates into energy that can be used inside the cells of the body.  Because of this, a deficiency of vitamin B1 will result in both muscular and mental fatigue. Some common symptoms of a deficiency of vitamin B2 are muscle weakness, fatigue and lethargy, along with headaches, irritability, depression and mental confusion. This happens because both muscles and brain cells are starved for energy.

Learn More About Thiamine

Thiamine is characterized by its white crystalline appearance with a distinctive smell of yeast. It has been named by the Greek-word ‘Thein’.

The vitamin consists of a pyrimidine-and thiazole ring which is dovetailed by a CH2-group. In the food Thiamine occurs either in free form, as a thiamine-diphosphate (TDP) or bound to protein.


After the bound form of Thiamine has been released it is absorbed in the small intestines upper area. Alcohol and some medicines may have an inhibitory effect on the absorption. In the cells of the small intestine the Thiamine is transformed into the coenzyme thiamine-diphosphate, which is the physical active substance of Vitamin B1.

Just as other Vitamins in the B-complex, it can also be synthesized by intestinal bacteria. The amounts able for the body to use by synthesis are not determined as of today.

The body is not able to store Thiamine in any large amounts. In an adult who eats a mixed diet the total amount of stored Thiamine is approximately 30 mg, of which 50% are stored in the muscles alone. Other tissues with stored Thiamine are the heart, liver and the kidneys. Since the overflow of Thiamine is excreted through the kidneys it means that diuretic substances, such as alcohol will increase the excretion of the vitamin.


Like the other B-vitamins Thiamine has also an important role in the metabolism to release energy in the food we ingest. The coenzyme TDP (thiamine-diphosphate) is required for several reactions in the carbohydrate metabolism.

TDP is also involved in the construction of the ribose; during that process TDP is responsible for the activation of the enzyme that is needed to form ribose. Despite that a very small amount of the body’s total glucose-levels are formed into ribose this process is vital for our health since ribose is a part of both DNA and RNA.


Early symptoms if having lack of Vitamin B1 are for instance; loss of appetite, impaired concentration, fatigue and irritability. Later symptoms like weight loss and constipation may occur.

Deficiency of Vitamin B1 allows pyruvate and other intermediate substances (metabolites) to be gathered in blood and tissues, with damage to the nervous system as a result by these poisonous substances.


Vitamin B1 is essential for us, and since it’s a water soluble vitamin we need to ingest it daily. It’s important to remember that diuretic substances will increase the excretion of Vitamin B1, which means that people with a high intake of alcohol may be in the risk-zone with chronic nerve injuries as a result unless treatment with supplement is started in an early stage.