Explore Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Rich Foods for a Nutritious Diet

Vitamin B1 foods, or thiamine-rich foods, are essential for energy metabolism, brain function, and overall vitality.

Including these foods in your diet can help support your body’s ability to convert nutrients into energy and maintain a healthy nervous system.

In this article, we’ll explore a variety of delicious recipes that feature vitamin B1 foods, making it easy to boost your thiamine intake.

From hearty breakfasts to satisfying dinners, these recipes are designed to enhance your diet with nutrient-dense ingredients for optimal health.

High Vitamin B1 Foods (Per Serving)

If you fall short of the recommended thiamine intake, it’s time to focus on good sources of vitamin B1 that pack in more thiamine per serving, like:

  • pork loin (lean)
  • leg ham
  • salmon
  • pili nuts
  • oatmeal (steel cut)
  • macadamia nuts
  • liver
  • whole wheat bread
  • sunflower seeds
  • brown rice
  • lentils
  • peanuts

 Incorporating healthy foods rich in Vitamin B1, such as sunflower seeds, pork, and legumes, into your diet can benefit your overall health.

To help you get started, the infographic below shows the thiamine provided by popular foods in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers.  Dive into the realm of vitamin B1 foods and unfold the richness of foods high in B1.

high thiamine (Vitamin B1) foods per serving

Once you’re ready to revitalise your diet with a wider variety of high-thiamine foods, you can download our printable vitamin B1 foods list of foods that provide more thiamine per serving in our Optimising Nutrition Community.  

Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Rich Foods (Per Calorie)

Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of vitamin B1 your body needs, you can zero in on thiamine-rich foods that deliver more thiamine per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density, like:

  • asparagus
  • pork loin
  • oat bran
  • Canadian bacon
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • prosciutto
  • dill pickles
  • bacon
  • green peas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • green beans

The infographic below shows popular foods that provide more thiamine per calorie.  

thiamine vitamin B1 rich foods

For more variety, check out our printable high B1 food list of thiamine-rich foods per calorie in our Optimising Nutrition Community for a satisfying, guilt-free feast!  

Thiamine Rich Foods Chart

Are you curious about how your favourite foods stack up in the thiamine game? Dive into our dynamic chart showcasing popular foods, comparing thiamine content per calorie and serving. For an immersive experience, explore the interactive Tableau version (on your computer).

Thiamine Rich Foods Chart

As you’ll see, Vitamin B1 is found in both plant and animal-based foods.  However, foods highest in thiamine are arguably more concentrated in animal foods like meat, poultry, and shellfish.  Grains are relatively good sources of vitamin B1, although it’s best to consume whole, unprocessed forms. 

How Much Thiamine (B1) Do You Need?

Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 1.3 mg of vitamin B1 per 2000 calories. However, achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake of 2.7 mg per 2000 calories aligns with an impressive 18% reduction in energy intake. However, higher intakes of vitamin B1, only possible with supplements or fortification, do not provide additional benefits

satiety response to thiamine in our food

Because meat and seafood tend to provide more thiamine per serving, vegetarians and vegans need to find plant-based sources of Vitamin B1 to maintain optimal health.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Rich Recipes

Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1750 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass.  We’ve plotted these recipes based on vitamin B1 content versus overall nutrient density.  The further right you go, the more vitamin B1 you can enjoy with fewer calories.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Rich Recipes

Hungry for more?  Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer.  Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures! Some examples of our NutriBooster recipes that contain the most vitamin B1 are shown below. 

highest thiamine recipes

Benefits of Vitamin B1

Thiamine, often known as Vitamin B1, is pivotal in transforming thiamine-rich foods into a wellspring of vitality while championing nerve health. It’s not just a nutrient; it’s the key to your overall well-being! 

  • Energy production: Vitamin B1 helps break down carbohydrates into glucose, which the body uses to produce energy. It also helps in the metabolism of fats and proteins.
  • Nervous health: Vitamin B1 is essential for the nervous system to function properly. It is involved in the transmission of nerve signals and helps synthesise neurotransmitters.
  • Cardiovascular health: Vitamin B1 helps produce red blood cells that transport oxygen to the body’s tissues. It also helps maintain a healthy heart by regulating heart muscle function.
  • Brain health: Vitamin B1 is essential for maintaining cognitive function and memory.  It has been shown to improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Digestive health: Vitamin B1 is necessary for producing hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is essential for properly digesting food.
  • Immune system function: Vitamin B1 is involved in producing white blood cells, which help fight off infections and diseases.

Symptoms of Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Severe thiamine deficiency is a recognised medical condition known as beriberi.  There are two forms of beriberi: ‘wet’ beriberi, affecting the heart and circulatory system, and ‘dry’ beriberi, which can lead to nerve damage and poor muscle strength.  Wet beriberi can present as heart failure, while dry beriberi presents as muscle paralysis.

The condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is often a result of thiamine deficiency.  It is characterised by loss of cognition, muscle coordination, tremors, visual changes, and confusion that can lead to death if unaddressed.

Low thiamine levels are prevalent in people with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hypertension, liver failure and HIV/AIDS.  In addition, people who rely on polished rice and milled flour are prone to thiamine deficiency because these foods lack nutrients, including thiamine.

Thiamine deficiency is also common in alcoholics because alcohol inflames the stomach and contributes to nutrient malabsorption.  The body also requires thiamine to create the enzyme that metabolises alcohol.  Therefore, thiamine supplementation is often used in their rehabilitation and recovery

Processing Losses

Thiamine is a heat and light-sensitive vitamin.  Because of this factor, processing causes significant losses of thiamine levels in food, including:

  • roasting of meat (40 to 60%),
  • milling of flour (60 to 80%),
  • baking of bread (5 to 15%), and
  • the cooking of vegetables (60 to 80%).  

Storage and Losses of B1 

Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin that can only be stored in the body for short durations before it exits through your urine.  Due to the limited storage capacity for thiamine, deficiencies can develop as quickly as two weeks of a nutrient-poor diet. 

Thiamine Toxicity and Overdose

Because thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin, there is no known upper limit for vitamin B1 as the kidneys quickly excrete excess dietary thiamine in the urine. 

Bioavailability of Thiamine

Little is known about the bioavailability of thiamine from plants vs. animal-based foods.  However, thiamine is sensitive to heat, how long it is cooked, and its stored duration.  For this reason, avoid cooking foods at high temperatures for too long, and try to consume unprocessed fresh foods as much as possible.

Availability of Thiamine in The Food System

Nearly 20% of US residents are thought to fall short of their minimum vitamin B1 intake, but this could be as high as 50%!

Food staples like polished rice and milled flour are essentially void of thiamine. To address this, the widespread fortification of refined white flour was implemented in 1939.  

Thiamine Fortification

While fortification and supplementation can be helpful if you have deficiency symptoms, it is important to avoid supplements and fortified foods that provide more thiamine (vitamin B1) than you require.

Although vitamin B1 is critical for transforming food into usable energy, our data has shown increased intake of otherwise nutrient-poor foods fortified with thiamine. 

While whole grains naturally contain thiamine, refining them removes the bran and wheat germ, which carry most of the thiamine found in grains. 

As shown in the chart below, our average intake of B1 has remained slightly above the EAR and RDI (data from the USDA Economic Research Service) since the introduction of fortification in the 1930s.  However, this is still well below our preferred stretch target for vitamin B1 from whole foods that align with optimal satiety.

Widespread fortification of common foods with thiamine was introduced in the 1930s because of the deficiencies caused by the lack of nutrients in processed rice, wheat, and corn.  The guidelines for fortification were revised in 1974, which led to a sharp increase in the fortification of common breakfast cereals.  As shown in the chart below, thiamine availability in the food system has increased with the fortification of grain products (data from the USDA Economic Research Service).

change in vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the food system

Interestingly, when we look at the satiety analysis, including supplementation and fortification, we see that foods with very high thiamine levels correlate with an increased caloric intake. 

The 2014 paper Excess Vitamin Intake: An Unrecognised Risk Factor for Obesity highlights that sharp increases in the fortification of infant formula and breakfast cereals, when introduced in different countries, correlated with sharp increases in obesity rates.  

The study notes that B vitamins promote fat synthesis when consumed in excess.  In addition, they may cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars) and thus increase the appetite for more high glycemic foods when found in foods like fortified bread and cereals. 

Fortification and supplementation can benefit frank deficiencies or where nutrient-dense foods are hard to obtain.  However, data analysis suggests that supplementation and fortification of isolated nutrients in levels over and above what is naturally found in whole foods does not correlate with an overall lowered calorie intake.   Therefore, the satiety impact shown in this analysis can only be assumed for minimally processed foods naturally containing these nutrients.  

In 1959, the University of Illinois produced a landmark pamphlet titled “Balancing Swine Rations“, documenting their research to identify the feeding regime that optimised growth while minimising the feed ratio (i.e., maximum weight gain with minimum food inputs).  The most rapid weight increases were observed in pigs with only fortified feed and no alternative. 

They ate more of the fortified feed rather than seeking out pasture or consuming alfalfa.  However, farmers found that pigs housed in barns that were solely fed grain and corn would get sick, lose their hair, and fail to thrive.  Therefore, before vitamin supplementation, farmers needed to ensure that the pigs had time on pasture or were fed alfalfa to obtain adequate vitamins to grow and remain healthy.  They also found that pigs predominantly preferred pasture and unfortified feed if given the choice of pasture or fortified feed.

In his book, The End of Craving, Mark Schatzker likens our modern food system to the fortified pig food designed to maximise growth and evade deficiencies.  The fortification of processed food overrides our innate drive to seek out various foods that contain the full spectrum of nutrients we need to thrive and avoid excess calorie intake.  Since 1959, this understanding of the role of supplementation has been used heavily in feeding livestock to maximise growth rates for meat production.

The increased rates of fortification of breakfast cereals and other ultra-processed foods may have inadvertently had a similar impact.  Because ultra-processed foods now contain more nutrients required to thrive, we are motivated and content to continue eating more.  Unfortunately, as a result, we have a reduced appetite for foods that naturally contain the nutrients commonly used in fortification.  

If we have innate cravings for vitamins, fortification may increase cravings for processed foods and drown out cravings for whole foods containing other essential nutrients like amino acids, potassium, sodium, and calcium needed to thrive.  For this reason, in our Micros Masterclass, we guide people to review their supplements and fortified food intake to ensure they are not excessive. 

In summary, it can only be assumed that the positive satiety impact of increased nutrient density comes from whole foods containing a broad range of essential and non-essential nutrients, not isolated synthetic nutrients. 

How Can I Calculate if I am Getting Enough Vitamin B1? 

Curious about your Vitamin B1 intake?  Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the Vitamin B1 sweet spot in your diet.

After just one week of tracking your daily meals with Cronometer, Nutrient Optimiser will unveil a personalised roadmap, your guide to a healthier, more nutrient-rich lifestyle.  

You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your Vitamin B1 gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on vital nutrients like selenium.

Ready to unlock your nutrient potential?  Join the challenge and journey towards a brighter, healthier you!

Nutrient Density Starter Pack

Ready to supercharge your nutrition?  Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!

In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:

  • Food Lists: Discover our carefully crafted lists optimised for each essential nutrient, tailored to your goals, preferences, and unique conditions.
  • The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World: Peek into a week of mouthwatering, nutrient-dense meals that’ll leave you satisfied and energised.
  • Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
  • 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge: Unearth your priority nutrients and pinpoint the foods and meals that pack a nutrient punch so you can kickstart your journey to better health.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly.  Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!”

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