Vitamin B1 Summary   1 comment

Now moving on to vitamin B1 (thiamin). It was a bit more challenging to find basic helpful information on thiamin than it was for vitamin B12 or folate.

What does thiamin do? Apparently, lots of things. The fact sheet from the lab summarizes the function as: “Thiamin is used by cells to help make energy from foodstuffs.” The Mayo Clinic also mentions carbohydrate metabolism and the production of hydrochloric acid for digestion, among other functions that do not translate easily into layperson-language. A deficiency seems to have far ranging symptoms ranging from fatigue and depression, to constipation and nausea, to nerve damage. I didn’t find any specific pregnancy-related risks listed, though, so apparently it is not in the “risk of birth defects” category.

It is a water soluble vitamin, and is not stored in the body long term so constant consumption is necessary. Luckily, good sources include fortified cereals/breads, and whole grains. This is where I am disappointed in the USDA. I looked at the same table that I referenced for folate, and expected to see brown rice and whole wheat flour at the top of the weighted list. No, not there. The USDA only lists white rice and white wheat flour; but thiamin is apparently found in the rice BRAN and the wheat GERM, which are the parts not included in the refined “white” versions of the grains. Seems like a glaring oversight to me.

I’m not really sure why I’m deficient in thiamin, considering that my husband started making rice or a rice blend (with spelt, millet, amaranth, or even quinoa) every week for us to take to work for lunches; and I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything other than brown or unrefined rice (well, I do have Arborio rice for risotto). Most of the wheat products that I eat also contain whole wheat. A minor personal mission of mine is to prove that it is easy and enjoyable to avoid refined grains. (Pasta is my weakness, I can’t pass up a good white wheat flour pasta.)

If I have to take a guess as the reason for my deficiency (and I guess I do), maybe tea is to blame. According to the fact sheet from the lab tea (and coffee, some fish, blueberries, and red cabbage) contain “anti-thiamin factors.” At work I drink 5-6 cups of tea brewed from 2 teabags every day. During the summer I am also sometimes drinking iced tea at home. I honestly don’t think I could give up my tea; after all the collection peaked at 19 different types in my cabinet at work, and I’m gearing up for a change to loose-leaf, whole-leaf for most of them.


Posted August 27, 2010 by mayakey in health, pre-pregnancy

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One response to “Vitamin B1 Summary

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  1. As far as vitamins go B12, D and folic acid are the sexy vitamins.

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