Vitamin B1 – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin B1 or thiamin, plays an important role in energy production and healthy metabolism. It aids in digestion and helps to metabolize fats and protein. Thiamin supports a healthy nervous system, muscles and heart, as well promotes growth, boosts the immune system and helps alleviate stress.

The B vitamins are used in a combination to regulate important functions of the digestive, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. Like all the B vitamins, vitamin B1 is water-soluble, meaning it does not store in the body and should be replenished daily.

Characteristics of a Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Symptoms of a vitamin B1 deficiency can include headaches, nausea, fatigue, depression, irritability, nervous disorders, sleeplessness, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, and loss of memory. Calf muscle tenderness and leg cramps may also occur at night along with a possible prickling sensation and muscle atrophy. A thiamin deficiency can further complicate the digestion of carbohydrates, allowing a substance called pyruvic acid to build up in the bloodstream which can cause a loss of mental alertness.

Since not many foods are nutrient-rich in vitamin B1 and it does not store in the body and must be replenished daily, deficiencies are more common. Deficiencies can also occur in people with compromised digestive systems caused by surgery or severe chronic illness.

VItamin B1 Food Sources

Vitamin B1 can be found in several different food sources such as cereal, seeds, nuts, whole grains, legumes, vegetables and some fruits.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Vitamin B1

This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin B1, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of vitamin B1 in that single serving.

Vitamin B1 Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Muscle Mix Cookies recipe! Cereals, seeds and nuts are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin B1.


Written by: J. Marshall


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