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Thiamine, sometimes spelled thiamin, is a B vitamin and is used by the body to break down sugars, and it is also used to correct heart and nervous system problems resulting from insufficient thiamine intake. A sufficient thiamine dosage for healthy adults over the age of 19 is 1.2 mg per day for men and 1.1 mg per day for women. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of thiamine differs for infants, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The RDA for thiamine comes from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) compiled by the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences. A sufficient daily thiamine dosage can be obtained through dietary supplements but can also found in specific dairy products, meats, grains, nuts and fruits and vegetables. A combination of the foods not only contributes to overall health but easily satisfies the RDA for thiamine.
Peas, spinach, and lentils are a good source of thiamine. Long grain enriched white rice and brown rice contain thiamine, as does unenriched white rice in a lesser amount. Whole wheat bread and enriched white bread have roughly the same amount of thiamine, about 0.10 mg per slice. Nuts like pecans and Brazil nuts add thiamine to the diet, and one ounce (28.35 grams) of either provides 0.19 mg of the vitamin. Fortified cereals are also an important source of Thiamine, and one cup (240 mL) of a breakfast cereal like wheat germ yields 4.47 mgs of thiamine.
A sufficient daily thiamine dosage can also be found in fruits like cantaloupe and oranges. A single orange contains about 0.10 mg of thiamine. Milk and eggs are also a source of the vitamin. Cooked lean pork is also suggested for maintaining sufficient thiamine levels. Three ounces (85.04 grams) provides about 0.72 mg of thiamine. In the DRI, a three ounce (85.04 grams) serving of meat is described as about the size of a deck of cards.
The thiamine dosage in the RDA for the vitamin increases in small increments from infancy to adulthood. For pregnant and nursing females of the any age the RDA increases to 1.4 mg per day. There does not appear to be evidence that older adults, 65 years of age or more, need a higher thiamine intake. There are studies, however, that show a higher rate of thiamine deficiency in elderly populations. This suggests that older people may want to look into a multivitamin supplement for their thiamine intake.
Thiamine deficiency can result in serious neurological problems. Extreme thiamine deficiency is most often associated in the West with long term alcohol abuse. In some parts of the world, thiamine deficiency is related to the dietary culture. In Nigeria for instance, African silkworms are a traditional food. These silkworms contain an enzyme which essentially breaks up any thiamine in the body, which sometimes results in a neurological condition called seasonal ataxia.