Thiamin Requirements and Dietary Sources

Bread, cereal and grain is high in thiamin.
Philip Wilkins / Getty Images

Thiamin is a member of the water-soluble family of B-complex vitamins. It's also called vitamin B-1, and it's okay to spell it as thiamine. Because it's a water-soluble vitamin, your body doesn't store much, so it needs to be frequently replenished, which isn't a problem as long as you eat a healthy balanced diet.

Thiamin plays a significant role in glucose metabolism so your body can use carbohydrates as energy.

It's also  required for normal heart, muscle and nerve function.

The dietary reference intakes (DRIs) are set by the Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The DRIs for thiamin are based on age and sex. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need to consume a little extra thiamin.

These DRIs represent what is needed by an average healthy person, so if you have any health concerns, please speak with your health care provider about your need for thiamin.

Dietary Reference Intakes

Males

1 to 3 years: 0.5 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 0.6 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 0.9 milligrams per day
14+ years: 1.2 milligrams per day

Females

1 to 3 years: 0.5 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 0.6 milligrams per day
9 to 13 years: 0.9 milligrams per day
14 to 18 years: 1.0 milligrams per day
19+ years: 1.1 milligrams per day
Women who are pregnant: 1.4 milligrams per day
Women who are breastfeeding: 1.4 milligrams per day

Dietary Sources and Deficiency

Thiamin is found in legumes, fish, lean meats, whole grains and fortified bread and cereal products, so deficiency due to dietary intake is rare, but aThiamin deficiency may result in a condition called beriberi, which causes nerve problems in the hands and feet, including sensory and motor loss.

 

Thiamin deficiency is more likely to occur in people with Crohn's disease, or who are undergoing dialysis, had diabetes, or who are elderly. But the most common cause of deficiency is chronic alcoholism. About 80 percent of people with alcoholism develop a deficiency that can lead to a brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Thiamin as a Dietary Supplement

Thiamin supplementation is safe, and may be helpful if you're at risk of deficiency. Since it's essential for nervous system function, thiamin is sometimes marketed as an 'anti-stress' supplement, but there doesn't appear to be evidence to back that claim.  The Institutes of Medicine hasn't established a tolerable upper level of consumption, but it may react with some medications such as furosemide. 

Sources:

Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2013. Accessed April 13, 2016.

Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application." Accessed April 13, 2016. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/activities/nutrition/summarydris/dri-tables.aspx.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. "Thiamin Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Accessed April 13, 2016. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-HealthProfessional/

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)." Accessed April 13, 2016. https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b1-thiamine.

Continue Reading