The benefits of thiamine (or thiamin), a water soluble vitamin also known as Vitamin B1, are often overlooked despite the nutrient’s importance in bodily function. Thiamin is one of the essential nutrients the body must have to convert carbohydrates into energy, making it beneficial when the body is trying to combat stress. It also plays a crucial role in conducting nerve impulses and muscle contraction, and is therefore essential to keep the heart, muscles, and nervous system functioning as a whole.1 Last but not least, it’s important to note that thiamine aids in the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells; multiple enzyme processes; and the production of hydrochloric acid which is necessary for proper digestion. 2
The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults aged 19 years and older is 1.2 milligrams daily for males and 1.1 milligrams daily for females. The RDA for pregnant or breastfeeding women of any age is 1.4 milligrams daily.1 The importance of thiamine becomes most apparent when examining consequences of deficiency. Thiamine is not stored in the body and therefore can become depleted quickly– typically within 14 days. Beriberi, a severe chronic thiamine deficiency, can result in potentially serious complications, including poor or diminished growth in muscle and nerve tissues.
Fortunately, thiamine is widely available in a variety of foods and deficiencies are therefore typically rare in developed countries. Good sources of thiamine include whole grains, enriched wheat, brown rice, seafood, lean pork, liver, and nuts. Most fruits and vegetables also contain thiamine. When talking to patients, it is important to note that thiamine is often lost in foods after cooking or processing. Remind clients of the proper methods for preparing vegetables so they do not lose vital nutrients due to overcooking. When cooking vegetables, it is best to only add a small amount of water and keep the lid on the pan to preserve vitamins and other nutrients.
A small amount of thiamine is available in eggs, so pair them with other good sources such as milk, oats, and whole grains to contribute to adequate intake levels. For a healthy dose of thiamine try the below creative twist on a summer favorite.
Scrambled Eggs, Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Sandwich
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. milk OR water
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tsp. butter OR olive oil, divided
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- 2 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices tomato
- 6 fresh basil leaves or ¼ tsp. dried basil leaves
- Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in bowl until blended
- HEAT 1 tsp. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. POUR IN egg mixture. As eggs begin to set, GENTLY PULL the eggs across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large soft curds. Continue cooking-pulling, lifting and folding eggs – until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly. REMOVE from pan. Clean Skillet
- SPREAD remaining 2 tsp. butter evenly on one side of each bread slice (or brush lightly with oil). PLACE 2 slices in skillet, buttered side down. TOP evenly with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato and basil. COVER with remaining bread, buttered side up.
- GRILL sandwiches over medium heat, turning once, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes
Excellent Source: Protein, Calcium and Choline
Good Source: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Folate and Iron
Calories: 359; Total Fat: 18g; Saturated fat: 9g; Polyunsaturated fat: 2g; Monounsaturated fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 218mg; Sodium: 492mg; Carbohydrates: 26g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Protein: 22g; Vitamin A: 951.7IU; Vitamin D: 47.6IU; Folate: 60.8mcg; Calcium: 317.8mg; Iron: 2.4mg; Choline: 150.4mg
1) Mayo Clinic. (2012, September 1). Thiamine (vitamin b1). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-b1/NS_patient-thiamin (accessed June 10, 2013)
2) Nestle, M. (2001). Beriberi, white rice, and vitamin b: A disease, a cause, and a cure (review.Bulletin of the History of Medicine , 75(2), Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/v075/75.2nestle.html (accessed June 8, 2013)
3) Web MD. (2009). Thiamine (vitamin b1) . Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-965-THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1).aspx?activeIngredientId=965&activeIngredientName=THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1)(accessed June 11,2013)