Have you ever wondered how the food we eat turns into energy? Well, a coenzyme called Thiamine (or vitamin B1) is used by the body to metabolize food for energy and to maintain proper heart and nerve function. Without Thiamine, carbohydrates and protein cannot be properly used by the body to carry out various important functions. Read on to learn more about the wonderful health benefits and natural sources of Thiamine.
This week’s Nutrients by the Alphabet: Thiamine
That’s right, in this new series – Nutrients by the Alphabet – you will learn all about important nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), their health benefits, and easy and delicious ways to get more of the good stuff with a fun recipe to try each week (courtesy of my awesome student-intern from Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School – Shelby Persechino)!
So, what are the health benefits of Thiamine?
Thiamine maintains a healthy metabolism by turning carbohydrates we eat into glucose, which is the preferred source of energy that the body runs off. Thiamine also plays a role in producing red blood cells (RBCs), which are also used for ongoing energy. Thiamine prevents nerve damage by oxidizing the sugars we eat. We can experience nerve damage if we do not have enough “fuel” from food going towards the function of our nervous system. Thiamine helps prevent vision problems due to its ability to influence nerve and muscle signaling that relays information from the eyes to the brain. Thiamine also supports a healthy cardiovascular system by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which relays messages between the nerves and the muscles to maintain proper cardiac function and healthy heart beat rhythms. Thiamine plays an important role in brain health by bridging the gap between the brain/body connections and preventing brain disorders. Thiamine enhances learning by increasing focus, energy, fights chronic stress, and possibly preventing memory loss. Thiamine also helps to boost immunity and defend you from being sick as well as helping to keep a positive mood by improving the body’s ability to withstand stress and maintain energy. See, now that’s a vitamin you need to make sure to have in your diet!
So, how much Thiamine do you need and where can you find it?
The RDA for adult men is 1.2mg per day and adult women is 1.1mg per day. You can find Thiamine in nutritional yeast, seaweed, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, black beans, lentils, organic edamame/soybeans, navy beans, white beans, green split peas, pinto beans, mung beans, beef liver, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts (just to name a few).
Looking for a tasty, vegetarian recipe to increase your Thiamine intake? Try this Vegetarian Crockpot Taco Soup from The Spruce.
Perfect nutrient-packed dinner for this cooler weather this week!