Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a water-soluble vitamin. Thiamine plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism, particularly in the conversion of glucose into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). ATP is the body's main energy supplier, necessary for all metabolic processes. Additionally, thiamine is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are essential for the transmission of nerve signals in the nervous system and healthy brain function. Thiamine is also required for the production of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of our body's genetic material.
The table above shows the foods rich in vitamin B1 along with their corresponding vitamin B1 contents.
Who Has A Higher Need For Vitamin B1?
The need for vitamin B1 can be easily met with a balanced vegan diet. However, individuals who engage in intense physical activity or sports should pay attention to their vitamin B1 intake since vitamin B1 helps convert carbohydrates into energy. During intense physical activity, the body requires more energy and therefore breaks down more carbohydrates. If the vitamin B1 level is low, this can lead to reduced energy production, which can negatively impact physical performance. A deficiency can result in decreased energy production, muscle weakness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Endurance athletes often have a diet that is rich in carbohydrates, so they should also include vitamin B1-rich foods. Additionally, vitamin B1 is lost through sweat.
The following list reveals other groups of people who should ensure adequate intake:
- Individuals who have a one-sided diet or consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates have a higher risk of deficiency.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women require more vitamin B1. The vitamin is important for the growth and development of the child.
- Older people often have a poorer nutrient status.
- Alcoholism can lead to poor nutrition and lower the body's vitamin B1 level. Alcohol affects thiamine metabolism and can reduce the absorption and storage of vitamin B1 in the body. Consequently, individuals with alcoholism often have a higher requirement.
- People with gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis often have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food.
- A carbohydrate-rich diet that contains many refined carbohydrates can increase the requirement since the vitamin is important for carbohydrate metabolism.
- Certain medications such as diuretics, anticonvulsants, and antibiotics can lower the body's vitamin B1 level and increase the requirement.
- Stress can lower the body's Vitamin B1 level, so individuals who are consistently stressed should also consume vitamin B1-rich foods.
A deficiency of vitamin B1 is very rare but can lead to severe conditions such as beriberi, which affects the nervous system, heart, and muscles. It is characterized by muscle and nerve weakness, heart problems, and weight loss. Other symptoms of deficiency may include fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and confusion. In severe cases, it can lead to heart issues, nerve damage, and even death.
Vitamin B1 Foods
Plant-based foods are good sources of vitamin B1. The following list provides some options that you can incorporate into a balanced diet:
- Whole grain products such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oats are excellent sources of vitamin B1 according to the vitamin B1 table. These foods are also rich in fiber, which is beneficial for intestinal health. By consuming whole grain products instead of refined products, you can increase the vitamin B1 content in your diet. You can find the table of vitamin B1-rich grain products here.
- Lentils, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, kidney beans, and green beans are rich in vitamin B1. Soybeans and products made from them such as tofu and tempeh are also sources of vitamin B1. Plant-based protein and fiber are also abundant. You can access the table of vitamin B1 in legumes here.
- Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, lamb's lettuce, salsify, and asparagus are other plant-based vitamin B1 foods. The thiamine content in vegetables is generally lower than in other food groups. We have linked the table of vitamin B1 vegetables here.
- Nuts, seeds, and kernels such as macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and cashews contain a lot of vitamin B1. They are also excellent plant-based protein sources and rich in healthy fats. You can access the table of vitamin B1-rich nuts and seeds through this link.
- Fruits are generally not a very good source of vitamin B1. Oranges, grapes, figs, grapefruits, berries, and pineapples contain small amounts. You can find the values for vitamin B1 fruits here.
- Nutritional yeast, which is often used as a seasoning ingredient in vegan cuisine, is not only rich in B vitamins but also a good source of thiamin.
Vitamin B1 Is Sensitive To Heat
When heating thiamin-rich foods, such as during cooking or baking, some loss of vitamin B1 can occur. Thiamin can degrade at temperatures above 100°C, especially if the food's pH is acidic. Therefore, pay attention to short cooking times and gentle preparation of vitamin B1-rich foods if you want to get the maximum benefit.
When cooking vitamin-rich foods, a significant portion of the vitamin can leach into the cooking water. To minimize the loss, it is advisable to use only as much water as necessary for water-soluble vitamins, including vitamin B1.
What A Vitamin B1 Diet Can Look Like
A varied and balanced vegan diet is typically rich in vitamin B1. Here are some recipe ideas for a vitamin-rich vegan diet:
- Potato Carrot Soup with Chickpeas
- Oatmeal Porridge with Banana and Almond Milk
- Whole Grain Bread with Hummus and Arugula
- Tofu Scramble with Spinach and Whole Grain Bread
- Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Olives
- Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice
- Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Zucchini
- Tofu Spinach Lasagna
- Veggie Stir-Fry with Rice Noodles and Peanut Sauce
- Avocado Toast with Tomato and Arugula
- Pumpkin Risotto with Pine Nuts
- Vegetable Soup with Whole Grain Bread
- Sweet Potato Curry with Rice
- Broccoli Potato Mash
- Whole Wheat Rolls with Vegan Cream Cheese and Tomato
- Spinach Apple Salad with Walnuts and Dates
- Bulgur Salad with Bell Pepper and Tomato