Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is vital. Read which foods are rich in vitamin B1 and how likely a deficiency is.
The most important things at a glance
The body can only store small amounts of vitamin B1 – also known as thiamine. In order to be adequately supplied with it, people must therefore regularly ingest it with food.
It is usually not difficult for healthy people to meet the requirement, because vitamin B1 is contained in numerous foods. However, certain risk groups are more likely to develop thiamine deficiency.
What are the tasks of vitamin B1?
Among other things, thiamine plays an important role in the production of energy in the body. As a component of various enzymes, it takes part in the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. In addition, it supports the nervous system by being involved in the transmission of stimuli between the nerve cells.
Foods with a lot of vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 is found in both plant and animal foods. These foods are particularly rich in vitamin B1:
- Muscle meat, especially pork
- certain types of fish, such as plaice or eel
- Whole grain products, such as oatmeal or whole grain flour
- wheat germ
- Seeds, such as sunflower or pine nuts
- Legumes such as peas, mung beans, peanuts
Prepare food gently
Vitamin B1 is easily destroyed by heat. It is also sensitive to oxygen and too much water. If you want to preserve the vitamin as much as possible, you should prepare food as gently as possible and only water it a little.
If wholemeal flour is processed into white flour, a large amount of the thiamine it contains is lost, as it is mainly found in the surface layers of the grain. Therefore, preference should be given to whole grain products.
How much vitamin B1 does a person need?
Women between the ages of 25 and 65 should take in 1 milligram of vitamin B1 per day from food, and 1.2 milligrams for men – this is the recommendation of the German Society for Nutrition. From the age of 65, the requirement for men drops to 1.2 milligrams, for women 1 milligram is also recommended in old age.
Babies and children up to the age of 13 need less vitamin B1. Adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, on the other hand, have an increased requirement of 1.4 (boys/men) and 1.1 (girls/women) milligrams per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more thiamine: 1.2 milligrams of vitamin B1 are recommended in the second trimester of pregnancy, and 1.3 milligrams in the last trimester and while breastfeeding.
Among other things, the following foods cover a daily requirement of 1 milligram of vitamin B1:
- 100 grams of pork
- 200 grams of oatmeal
- 200 grams of wholemeal flour
- 300 grams of beef
- 300 grams of plaice or eel
- 300 grams of peas
- 2,000 grams of fruit
Even if the expected requirement is not met, there is not automatically a shortage: For example, the recommendations do not take into account a person’s individual metabolism. People with increased energy expenditure, for example due to heavy work or sport, need a little more vitamin B1.
When is a vitamin B1 deficiency imminent?
A persistent, severe vitamin B1 deficiency causes the Beri-Beri disease, which leads to damage to the nervous system with symptoms such as muscle weakness or numbness in the arms and legs. There is also a risk of heart failure, for example in the form of cardiac insufficiency. However, the “classic” beri-beri disease occurs almost exclusively in developing countries, where people eat mostly white rice.
However, a deficiency can also occur in this country in the context of certain diseases. It occurs when the body cannot absorb or process enough vitamin B1. For example, people suffering from chronic alcoholism are at risk. Vomiting during pregnancy, liver and gastrointestinal diseases and certain infectious diseases also increase the risk of a deficiency. Older people who are artificially fed can also have a vitamin B1 deficiency.
Possible symptoms are, for example, gait disturbances or skin tingling. Headaches, tiredness or nausea can also be signs of a deficiency.
For people with a diagnosed vitamin B1 deficiency, it can make sense to take a vitamin B1 supplement or receive an infusion in addition to eating thiamine-rich foods – after consulting a doctor. Healthy people, on the other hand, are normally sufficiently supplied with vitamin B1 if they eat a balanced diet.