Thiamine – it is not a vitamin you hear about often, but yet it is vital to the functioning of your body. You see, Vitamin B1 is used in the body to maintain cellular function, and it is important to keep all the organs working as they should. It helps along in producing energy from carbohydrates, and also supports the working of the nervous system.
People who consume a lot of highly processed foods, sweets and sodas are at a higher risk of Vitamin B1 deficiency – which is one reason why the Paleo Diet is great for maintaining health. In addition, a deficiency can occur because of alcohol abuse, liver disorders, kidney dialysis, and over-dieting, and you might need more B1 if you have chronic stress, or are a smoker. How do you know you might be deficient? Aspects that can indicate that are a feeling of numbness or muscle tenderness (especially in the legs), loss of appetite, and frequent “pins and needles” sensations. Vitamin B1 deficiency also causes the syndroms of beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and optic neuropathy.
But let’s look at the bright side! Sufficient consumption may play a role in the prevention or treatment of a number of health conditions, including alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, congestive heart failure, depression, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, Korsakoff’s psychosis, multiple sclerosis, and Wernicke’s encephalopathy. But knowing that it supports muscle function, brain health and learning capacity, and acts as an antioxidant should be a good enough reason to include more of it in your diet!
How much Vitamin B1 do you need?
The recommended daily amount is 1.4mg, and there appears to be no upper limit you should be worried about, since high doses do not appear to carry a risk of toxicity.
Where can you get thiamine from?
The Paleo Diet is a great way of getting optimal levels of Vitamin B1. Below are some of the best sources of Thiamine – do you already include them in your diet?
- Sesame seeds and tahini (sesame butter) – A staple in Middle-Eastern cuisine, sesame butter provides 106% of your daily need of thiamine in 100g, one tablespoon providing 15%. An easy way of including tahini in your meals is to make a simple sauce from it – mix it with a bit of lemon juice and salt, adding water to reach a good consistency – then eat it with roasted or grilled vegetables. Sunflower seeds that provide 7.5% of daily Thiamine in a tablespoon, are a great addition to salads and stir-frys. Yum!
- Tuna – Here’s a great reason for adding tuna to your salad or cooking a tuna steak for dinner - just 120 g of tuna will provide as much as 40% of your daily need of Thiamine.
- Sunflower seeds – Another great addition to your salads or home-made trail mix you can have on the go, sunflower seeds provide 6% of your daily need of vitamin B1 in two tablespoons.
- Pork chops – Trying to decide what meat you want to have for dinner? Why not go for pork chops? A serving of just 100g provides 83% of your daily Thiamine need.
- Asparagus – This micronutrient-dense spring vegetable is also a great source of Thiamine. 1 cup of asparagus stalks will cover 12.7% of your daily need.
- Spinach – Yet another reason to add spinach to your diet! 1 cup of cooked spinach provides 11.3% of your daily Vitamin B1 need. If you’re not a fan of spinach by itself, try adding it to smoothies – you’ll be surprised at how much of it you’ll be able to eat.
- Pineapple – A cup of pineapple pieces will provide you with 8.7% of your daily need. This is a great reason to end your meal with some juicy slices, or using pineapples to prepare an exotic smoothie.
- Oranges – Just one fruit provides you with 7.3% of your daily Thiamine need, making oranges a great snack to have on the go. Also, you can try adding orange slices to salads – delicious!
What else do you need to know about the consumption of vitamin B1?
The adequate absorption of Thiamin requires a good supply of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid, so it is important that you get good overall nutrition from whole foods – for which the Paleo Diet is a great solution.
So, what do you think – are you going to include more B1-rich foods into your diet? Maybe you have good recipes to share for using these specific foods? Do share in the comments!