Thiamin contains sulfur. It helps the body produce energy, helps create DNA, helps power biosynthesis, helps nerves function properly and helps with glucose metabolism. The sulfur in thiamin is destroyed by cooking and alkaline solutions so it is important to make sure to use cooking techniques that don’t use a lot of heat and to make sure not to use highly alkaline solutions like baking soda to prepare foods rich in thiamin.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
It is recommended that men aged 19 and up consume 1.2 milligrams of thiamin per day. Women aged 19 and up are recommended to consume 1.1 milligrams of thiamin per day. Pregnant women should consume 1.4 milligrams of thiamin per day and women who are breastfeeding should consume 1.5 milligrams of thiamin per day.
Pork is one of the richest sources of thiamin. Legumes, nuts and seeds, some types of fish and seafood, whole grain bread, liver, kidney and heart meat sources are also good sources.
With the exception of alcoholics and people who consume too many high calorie, unenriched, nutrient poor foods, thiamin deficiency isn’t very common in the United States. After a short ten days without thiamin, the first signs of deficiency are weakness, irritability, headache, fatigue and depression which are all associated with the brain and nervous system. The next symptoms are called dry beriberi and include muscle weakness, loss of appetite, nerve degeneration, tingling sensations throughout the body, deep pain in the calf muscle and poor arm and leg coordination. The last is wet beriberi which is characterized by severe edema, an enlarged heart and heart failure.
People who are heavy alcohol drinkers can develop a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This syndrome is alcohol induced malnutrition. The symptoms are staggering, constant rapid eye movements, confusion and paralysis of the eye muscles.
Since thiamine is water-soluble, it is excreted by the body rapidly which makes toxicity a rare occurrence. Toxicity has happened before but it is not likely to happen under normal circumstances.
So take care of yourself by eating a foods that are rich in thiamin, your body will thank you.
USDA.gov. United States Department of Agriculture, 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. <http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/appendd.pdf>.
Insel, Paul M., R. Elaine. Turner, and Don Ross. Nutrition. 3rd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2007. Print.