These Thiamin Foods Help Increase Energy Levels

These Thiamin Foods Help Increase Energy Levels

Thiamin (or thiamine), also known as vitamin B-1, is a water-soluble vitamin that tissues in the body need to function properly. It was the first B vitamin that scientists discovered, so they appropriately named it vitamin B-1. Similar to other B vitamins, thiamine helps the body convert food into energy. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and, as a result, development, growth, and cell function. 

How Much Thiamin Do You Need Every Day?

According to registered dietitians, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of thiamin is different for men and women. Men who are ages 19 and older should consume 1.2 milligrams (mg) of thiamin per day. Women in that same age bracket should aim for 1.1 mg of thiamin per day; however, lactating or pregnant women need slightly more at 1.4 mg per day. 

There are select populations at greater risk of thiamin deficiency than others. For example, people with HIV or AIDS, elderly people, diabetics, and people who chronically consume alcohol have a higher risk. Long-term thiamin deficiency can increase the risk of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which can be life-threatening. People undergoing dialysis for kidneys or taking loop diuretics are also at risk of thiamin deficiency. 

Fortunately, thiamin deficiency is fairly uncommon in most of the developed world. It’s quite rare in adults, but it can happen. Should you need to increase thiamin levels, focus on the following foods. 

Sunflower Seeds

A mere one ounce of roasted sunflower seeds supplies the body with 35% of the RDA of thiamine. Sunflower seeds also provide niacin, healthy fats, and vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant. When you choose sunflower seeds, opt for the unsalted varieties to keep sodium intake down.

Black Beans

There are numerous reasons to keep black beans as a staple in your pantry. For starters, they are rich in plant-based protein, magnesium, iron, and fiber. Additionally, one cup of cooked black beans offers 35% of the RDA of thiamin, so don’t avoid these versatile, nutritional powerhouses. 

Flax Seeds

The mighty fiber superstars are here! Flax seeds are some of the richest sources of fiber and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and one ounce provides 39% of the RDA of thiamin. When purchasing flax seeds, it’s best to buy ground flax seeds, because it’s easier for the body to digest them compared to whole flax seeds. You can add ground flax seeds to muffin recipes, oatmeal, energy bites, or smoothies. 

Navy Beans

The average American only consumes 15 grams of fiber per day or less, which is below the RDA. Adult men should consume 38 grams of fiber and adult women should consume 25 grams per day. One cup of cooked navy beans offers 19 grams of fiber, but it also brings 36% of the RDA of thiamin to the table. 

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is primarily available during the fall and winter months and it’s rich in a variety of antioxidants. It has a vibrant color and sweet flavor that pairs well with assertive spices. In addition to the antioxidants and impressive fiber content, it also contains a lot of thiamin, with one cup offering 29% of the RDA.


Looking to increase thiamin intake while simultaneously beating belly bloat? Look no further than asparagus spears. One cup of cooked asparagus will get you 24% of the RDA of thiamin and a hefty amount of asparagine, which is what colors asparagus green. Asparagine also acts as a natural diuretic, which may potentially reduce water retention. 

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