Many animal-derived and vegan foods are high in thiamine. People who follow a well-balanced diet get high amounts. Meat, fish, milk, beans, whole grains, seeds, and nuts are only a few common foods high in thiamine.
What does thiamine do to the body?
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble B-vitamin. It’s crucial for energy metabolism, as it’s involved in glucose, amino acid, and lipid metabolism. Also, thiamine is important for the synthesis of certain hormones and for the proper activity of certain enzymes.[1,2,3,4]
Thiamine deficiency may result in altered mitochondrial activity, impaired oxidative metabolism, and reduced energy production. Many cells and organ systems can be affected as well. Neurons are also pretty vulnerable to thiamine deficit, as they have high-energy requirements.
Memory loss, visual disturbances, and weak muscles are also side effects of chronic thiamine deficiency!
Actually, thiamine is essential for the proper function of most tissues and organs, as it plays a key role in energy metabolism. Hence, thiamine deficiency affects the nervous and cardiovascular system most dramatically, as the brain and the heart need extremely high amounts of energy for their function.
Last, but not least, thiamine status is an important indicator of oxidative stress.
How much thiamine do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of thiamine is 1.2 mg and 1.1 mg for men and women, respectively. Only pregnant and lactating women need higher doses of 1.4 mg a day. Teens and kids need lower daily doses.
On the other hand, there hasn’t been established a maximum safe dosage for supplements or food.
We store thiamine primarily in the liver. But, in small amounts. Hence, we should get adequate amounts of thiamine from food daily. Eating a wide variety of foods high in thiamine is enough for healthy people.
Bacteria in the large intestine synthesize thiamine as well. But, in negligible amounts. So, we should get it from our diet.
Actually, most people who follow a healthy, well-balanced diet consume adequate amounts of thiamine. In fact, it’s estimated that the average thiamine intake from dietary sources in the U.S. is 1.95 mg and 1.39 mg for men, and women, respectively.
But, in cases of poor diet, disease, severe obesity, medication, or excess alcohol consumption, people may benefit from taking thiamine supplements. You can find a wide variety of thiamine supplements on iHerb.
Certainly, you should consult your physician before taking any dietary supplement, or changing your diet.
Most animal-derive foods contain thiamine
Whole grains, meat, and fish are the most common dietary sources of thiamine.
Actually, pork is the richest meat in thiamine. Turkey and beef contain modest amounts.
Fish such as trout, tuna, salmon, and sardines contain high amounts of thiamine as well.
Furthermore, dairy contains modest amounts of thiamine. For instance, a glass of cow’s milk contains about 12% and an egg only 2% of the Daily Value, respectively.
Vegan foods are high in thiamine
There are many plant-based foods high in thiamine, though. Vegans and vegetarians who follow a balanced diet are unlikely to experience thiamine deficiency.
Whole grains are the main natural sources of thiamine
Also, whole grains are excellent vegan sources of thiamine. As we consume high amounts of grains daily, grains significantly contribute to the daily thiamine intake.
For instance, a slice of bread contains about 15%, while a serving of corn flakes provides up to 27% of the DV, respectively.
Moreover, we get high doses of thiamine from fortified foods, such as fortified cereals, bread, pasta, and rice!
Keep in mind that heat destroys thiamine. Hence, cooking reduces thiamine content of food. For example, bread has up to 30% less thiamine than flour.
Legumes are high in thiamine
The regular consumption of beans is another way to boost your daily intake of thiamine. A serving of beans may provide more than 30% of the DV!
Green peas and navy beans are the richest legumes in thiamine. A serving contains about 35% DV (Daily Value).
Seeds & nuts are high in thiamine
Furthermore, consuming seeds and nuts regularly makes it easy to meet the recommended daily dose of thiamine.
Flax seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds are particularly rich in thiamine. Just a tbsp provides about 10% DV.
Other common vegan foods high in thiamine
Actually, baker’s yeast is the richest food in thiamine. Just a tsp provides 0.44 mg or 37% DV!
Spirulina powder is an excellent source of thiamine as well. A tbsp provides 14% DV. Spirulina consumption is safe. It isn’t an iodine-rich food!
Spices such as garlic powder and cayenne pepper can also help meet our daily needs.
Last, but not least, consuming tahini is another easy way to boost our daily intake. A tbsp contains 20% DV.
Beverages high in thiamine
Orange juice is the richest beverage in thiamine. A serving provides about 18% of the DV.
Fruits & vegetables contain moderate amounts
Last, but not least, most fruits and vegetables contain low amounts of thiamine. Only asparagus, kale, potatoes, peppers, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, and sweet potatoes contain moderate amounts of thiamine.