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Nutripedia is a series of posts designed to help you learn more about the importance of essential nutrients & how to easily incorporate them into your daily life.

Your body requires Thiamine to adequately metabolize carbohydrates and proteins; critical for energy production. Thiamine is also needed for healthy synaptic function, keeping your nervous system functioning optimally. It’s pretty amazing how much your body depends on this vitamin. Because many processed foods are fortified or enriched with Thiamine, deficiency is rare in the U.S. However, Thiamine deficiency can occur in:

  • Alcoholics – alcohol displaces other nutrients; increases the excretion of B vitamins.
  • Those with eating disorders – simply through poor food intake
  • The elderly – poor diets
  • Long Term Dialysis patients– chronic filtration of blood without proper nutrient replenishment
  • Infants – thiamine deficient breastmilk
  • Those with genetic disorders – impaired absorption/metabolism of thiamine

This deficiency is termed Beri Beri and presents with cardiac, neurologic and gastrointestinal abnormalities. In alcoholics, severe deficiency causes Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, causing confusion, impaired gait, abnormal eye movement and psychosis. Don’t become an alcoholic, kids.


Food Serving Thiamin (mg)
Lentils (cooked, boiled) ½ cup 0.17
Green peas (cooked, boiled ½ cup 0.21
Long-grain, brown rice (cooked) 1 cup 0.19
Long-grain, white rice, enriched (cooked) 1 cup 0.26
Long-grain, white rice, unenriched (cooked) 1 cup 0.04
Whole-wheat bread 1 slice 0.10
White bread, enriched 1 slice 0.23
Fortified breakfast cereal (wheat, puffed) 1 cup 0.31
Wheat germ breakfast cereal (toasted, plain) 1 cup 1.88
Pork, lean (loin, tenderloin, cooked, roasted) 3 ounces* 0.81
Pecans 1 ounce 0.19
Spinach (cooked, boiled) ½ cup 0.09
Orange 1 fruit 0.11
Cantaloupe ½ fruit 0.11
Milk 1 cup 0.10
Egg (cooked, hard-boiled) 1 large 0.03
*3 ounces of meat is a serving about the size of a deck of cards

*USDA Nutrient Database


Like all other water soluble vitamins, Thiamine is destroyed by heat, especially moist heat like boiling.  Pasteurization and processing also reduces the amount of thiamine in a food; this is why processed foods like bread, flour and cereal are enriched with Thiamine. They’re putting back what was lost. For example, bread has 20%–30% less thiamin than its raw ingredients, and pasteurization reduces thiamin content (which is very small to begin with) in milk by up to 20%.

You might be thinking, well, all these foods are cooked so how am I NOT supposed to destroy Thiamine?

Using dry methods of cooking – baking – can help preserve Thiamine (bake your pork). And if you’re boiling Thiamine rich foods (like lentils, peas and rice), save the boiling liquid. Either use just enough water so you don’t need to drain any, or turn the extra cooking liquid into a sauce.  These Coconut Curry Lentils do just that. They’re phenomenal. Sprouting has also been shown to conserve and increase the bioavailability of some nutrients. Just be sure you’re practicing safe sprouting techniques by soaking and sprouting in the refrigerator (harmful bacteria love warm and moist environments).


Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Thiamin
Life Stage Age Males (mg/day) Females (mg/day)
Infants 0-6 months  0.2 (AI) 0.2 (AI)
Infants 7-12 months 0.3 (AI) 0.3 (AI)
Children 1-3 years 0.5 0.5
Children 4-8 years 0.6 0.6
Children 9-13 years 0.9 0.9
Adolescents 14-18 years 1.2 1.0
Adults 19 years and older 1.2 1.1
Pregnancy all ages 1.4
Breast-feeding all ages  – 1.4


Let’s see if you’re getting enough Thiamine in your day. Use the handy dandy USDA Super Tracker to enter in everything you ate today (or yesterday, or any day in which you remember everything you ate). When you’re done, you can generate a nutrient analysis report to see exactly how much Thiamine (and every other nutrient) you ate. Cool right?!

Comment below and share your Thiamine level for the day 🙂 #nerdalert

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