Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

How much you need each day:

  • 0.8mg for adult women
  • 1mg for adult men up to 50 years
  • 0.9mg for adult men over 50 years

Why you need it:

Vitamin B1 is needed to release the energy from fats, proteins and carbohydrates so that it can be used by the body.

It’s also essential for the nervous system and to keep the heart healthy. Furthermore, this vitamin is essential for growth in children and for fertility in adults.

Good food sources:

Wholegrain cereals, especially bread, fortified breakfast cereals, porridge oats and brown rice, are good sources of vitamin B1.

Other foods that contain this vitamin include dairy products, yeast extract, pulses, nuts, seeds, red meat (especially pork) and offal.

Too little:

A mild deficiency of vitamin B1 results in tiredness, a poor appetite, headaches, muscle fatigue, poor concentration, depression, irritability and heart problems.

In extreme cases, a condition called beri-beri results, which is sometimes seen in the third world.

Top tip:

Vitamin B1 is easily destroyed when food is prepared and cooked, as it’s sensitive to heat and the oxygen in air.

Try to preserve as much as you can by handling food as little as possible and cooking it for the minimum amount of time.

Better still, serve vitamin B1-rich foods with garlic or onions. These foods contain a substance called allinin that increases the absorption of this vitamin. But avoid having too much bacon or sausage, as the sulphur dioxide that’s often used to make them can inhibit the absorption of vitamin B1.

How to get enough:

Food Vitamin B1 Content (mg)
150g grilled lean pork chop 1.3
50g unsalted peanuts 0.6
200g can red kidney beans 0.3
30g branflakes 0.3
150g cooked brown rice 0.2
1 slice wholemeal bread 0.1

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