Fish, meat, or legumes are particularly rich in vitamin B1 (thiamine). But why exactly is the nutrient so important for the human body? Which foods contain vitamin B1, how does a vitamin B1 deficiency manifest itself and what do pregnant women have to consider? We will tell you.
Why does our body need vitamin B1?
Vitamin B1 (also: thiamine) is a water-soluble vitamin from the B complex. Our body needs vitamin B1 to metabolize the nutrients we eat and convert them into energy. Vitamin B1 is very important for the breakdown and conversion of carbohydrates. In addition, vitamin B1 significantly supports the functions of our nervous system and influences the production of nerve messengers, the so-called neurotransmitters. Unfortunately, our body cannot store vitamin B1 in the long term, so it should be consumed daily. The vitamin is sensitive to oxygen, heat, and UV rays. Therefore, foods containing vitamin B1 should be stored and (gently) cooked accordingly.
What foods contain vitamin B1?
Now, of course, the question arises as to which foods are particularly rich in vitamin B1. Here is a brief overview of valuable foods:
- Legumes (e.g. lentils, green peas, beans)
- Whole grain products (e.g. buckwheat, rolled oats, wheat germ, brown rice, wheat bran, rye, oats)
- Vegetables (e.g. artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, fennel, potatoes, spinach, asparagus, corn, salsify, kale, leeks, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, spinach, zucchini)
- Fish and meat (e.g. pork, chicken breast, duck, liver, zander, plaice, mackerel)
- Nuts (e.g. sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, sesame, pine nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios)
What is the daily requirement of vitamin B1?
According to the German Society for Nutrition, adolescents and adults should consume the following amounts of vitamin B1 every day:
- Females: 1 mg
- Pregnant women (from the 4th month): 1.2 mg
- Breastfeeding women: 1.3 mg
- Men: 1.1 to 1.3 mg (depending on age)
On average, it is therefore recommended to consume 1 mg of vitamin B1 per day. Choose preferably whole grain products and vegetables. For warm dishes, you should cook them gently to preserve all the vitamins they contain. The vitamin B1 daily requirement is about as follows: 100 grams of wholemeal bread (approx. 2 slices), 150 grams of tuna, 160 grams of boiled potatoes (two large potatoes), and almost 80 grams of peas.
Vitamin B1 deficiency: what are the symptoms?
If there is a lack of vitamin B1, this can be expressed by various signs. These include, among others:
- Extreme tiredness
- weight loss
- memory problems
- Declining performance (mentally and physically)
- sleep disorders
- cardiovascular failure
- muscle pain and cramps
However, a vitamin B1 deficiency is not very common in Germany; we are normally supplied with the vitamin through a balanced, healthy diet.
Such a deficiency is particularly common in people with metabolic diseases or alcohol addiction. People with an eating disorder, liver disease, intestinal disease (chronic), or an unbalanced diet (e.g. only white flour products) often suffer from a vitamin B1 deficiency. High consumption of coffee or tea and the frequent consumption of raw fish can result in the body not being able to fully utilize vitamin B1. There are special substances that inhibit the absorption of the vitamin.
Vitamin B1 during pregnancy
As with some other vitamins, the need for vitamin B1 is increased during pregnancy. Pregnant women should consume around 1.2 mg per day. Normally the value in non-pregnant women is 1 mg. Anyone pregnant should be careful not to consume too many “empty” carbohydrates (e.g. white flour products, sugar). Also, pregnant women should incorporate the above foods into their daily diet.