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Thiamin Facts

What is Thiamin?

Thiamin is a water soluble B vitamin, also known as vitamin B1. It helps produce energy from carbohydrate on a cellular level, and is very important for nerve conduction and muscle function.

Thiamin requirements

Thiamin requirements are determined by the total amount of energy and carbohydrate consumed in the diet. The RDAs for healthy adults are 1.2 mg/day for males and 1.1 mg/day for females. One note of caution: people who are chronic alcoholics will need more, as alcohol use decreases thiamin absorption into the body.

What happens when Thiamin intake is too high?

There are no Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for thiamin. As a water soluble vitamin, the body can excrete excess thiamin you consume.

What happens when Thiamin intake is too low?

Thiamin deficiencies are no longer common in the United States as they were before refined grains were enriched with thiamin and other B vitamins. Chronic thiamin deficiency can lead to a serious condition called "beriberi" which can affect the nervous, cardiovascular, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems. There are two types of beriberi: "wet" and "dry". Wet beriberi appears as swelling, increased heart rate, lung congestion, and heart failure. Dry beriberi is also called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and is frequently seen in alcoholics. The symptoms of dry beriberi are pain, tingling or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, loss of function of the lower extremities, and potential brain damage. Both types of beriberi are usually caused by alcohol abuse.

Which foods are high in Thiamin?

Whole grain and enriched grain foods, and fortified cereals provide most of the thiamin in the US diet; although lean pork, wheat germ, Brewer’s yeast, legumes, and organ meats are excellent sources as well.
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