Thiamin is in the vitamin B family and is also known as vitamin B-1. B vitamins are water soluble, therefore, they are least likely to reach toxic levels. Water soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and any excess will be excreted from the body.
This B vitamin is essential for normal growth and development and helps to maintain proper functioning of the heart and the nervous and digestive systems. A study last year discovered that 1/3 of all patients suffering from heart disease are thiamin deficient. When the body is lacking thiamin the heart muscles become lazy and fatigued, and the upper chambers of the heart lose their strength and gradually enlarge.
Thiamin plays an important role in helping the body metabolize carbohydrates and fat to produce energy. Thus, persons who expend more energy and have a higher intake of calories need more thiamin than those who eat fewer calories.
Daily needs for thiamin are based on the amount of calories taken in each day. The recommended dietary intake for Vitamin B1 is 1.1 mg per day for adult males and 0.8 mg per day for adult females, although women that are pregnant require an additional 0.2 mg per day and those that are lactating require and additional 0.4 mg.
Clearly the body is not at high demand for thiamin, however, there are factors which effect thiamin absorption-especially alcohol. Vitamin B1 deficiency is common among alcoholics, simply because chronic alcohol consumption decreases the amount of Vitamin B1 absorbed by the body. Alcohol not only blocks thiamin assimilation but injures the small intestine, making nutrient absorption very difficult. Also at risk for deficiency are those who consume a lot of sweets, soft drinks, and highly processed foods.
Sources of Thiamin
- The richest food sources of vitamin B1 are brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, nuts, peas, poultry, rice bran, kelp, spirulina, wheat germ and whole grains.
Some thiamin can be lost from foods during preparation and cooking because thiamin may be dissolved in the cooking liquid. Storage losses are small. To retain thiamin:
.Use enriched or whole-grain pasta or rice and do not wash before cooking or rinse after cooking.
.Cook vegetables in a minimal amount of water.
.Roast meat at a moderate temperature and cook only until it is done - overcooking at a high temperature destroys thiamin.