This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, State Program Leader for Food Safety and Nutrition, Clemson University. (New 07/07.)

HGIC 4074

Printer Friendly Version (PDF)

Why We Need It

Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble B vitamin. We need thiamin to use the carbohydrates we eat. It helps turn carbohydrates into energy for the body. The body also needs thiamin to use some of the amino acids that make up proteins.

Recommended Daily Intakes of Thiamin




mg = milligrams

Source: adapted from the Dietary Reference Intakes series, National Academies Press. Copyright 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, by the National Academies of Sciences.
birth-6 months


6 months-1 year


1-3 years


4-8 years


9-13 years


14 years and over


9-13 years


14-18 years


19 years and over







The best sources of thiamin are enriched, fortified, or whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and tortillas. Thiamin is one of four vitamins added to enriched grain products. Look for the word "thiamin" in the ingredient list on the label to see if it has been added.

INGREDIENTS: Enriched semolina (iron, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin), tomato, beet and spinach powders, …

Other good sources of thiamin are pork, legumes (beans and lentils), orange juice and sunflower seeds.

Sources of Thiamin


(mg per serving)

mg = milligrams
oz = ounces
pork chop, cooked, 3 oz


ready-to-eat cereal, 1 cup


spaghetti, enriched, cooked,
1 cup


orange juice, 1 cup


wheat germ, ½ oz


rice, enriched, white, cooked, 1 cup


sunflower seeds, 2 oz


black beans, cooked, ½ cup


flour tortilla, enriched (1)


Ways to Retain It

Do not rinse grains, such as rice, before cooking. Thiamin also can be lost from foods when they are cooked, especially if cooked in large amounts of water. However, many thiamin sources don't need to be cooked in water, so this isn't a major concern.

If We Don't Get Enough

A lack of thiamin causes the disease beriberi. People with beriberi have difficulty standing, walking, and controlling their muscles. This disease was common in the 1800s in Southeast Asian countries when people started eating white "polished" rice instead of brown rice. Removing the outer husks of rice removes most of the thiamin.

It's very easy to get enough thiamin in the diet these days, because it's added to processed grains. However, people who abuse alcohol or have a very poor diet may suffer from a thiamin deficiency.


Most people get plenty of thiamin in their diet, so supplements are usually not needed. Thiamin is included in most multivitamin supplements.

Research has not yet found problems from consuming too much thiamin from food or supplements. However, there is no need to take a supplement with more than 100 to 150% of the Daily Value for thiamin.

For More Information

The Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agent at your county Extension office may have more written information and nutrition classes for you to attend. Also, your doctor, health care provider, or a registered dietitian (RD) can provide reliable information.

Reliable nutrition information may be found on the Internet at the following sites:


  1. Turner, R. Elaine. University of Florida Extension. Facts About Thiamin. FCS8667. August 2006.
  2. National Academies of Sciences. National Academies Press. Dietary Reference Intakes series. 2004.
Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.