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Why you need thiamin during pregnancy
Thiamin (also known as thiamine or vitamin B1) enables you – and your baby – to convert carbohydrates into energy. It also helps your nervous system, muscles, and heart function normally and is essential for your baby's brain development.
How much thiamin you need
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 1.4 milligrams (mg) per day
Nonpregnant women: 1.1 mg per day
Food sources of thiamin
Fortified breads, cereals, whole grain products, lean pork, dried beans, and peas all contain good amounts of thiamin. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products have small amounts too. Here's a look at the amount of thiamin in some of these foods:
- 1 cup plain wheat germ cereal, toasted: 1.88 mg
- 3 ounces lean pork tenderloin: 0.81 mg
- 1 cup fortified puffed wheat cereal: 0.31 mg
- 1 cup enriched white rice, cooked: 0.26 mg
- one slice enriched white bread: 0.23 mg
- 1/2 cup green peas, cooked: 0.21mg
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked: 0.19 mg
- 1 ounce pecans: 0.19 mg
- 1/2 cup lentils, cooked: 0.17 mg
- one medium orange: 0.11 mg
- 1/2 cantaloupe: 0.11 mg
- 1 cup milk: 0.1 mg
- one slice whole wheat bread: 0.1 mg
- 1/2 cup spinach, cooked 0.09 mg
- one large egg, hard boiled: 0.03 mg
(Note that 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.)
Should you take a supplement?
Chances are you'll get enough thiamin by eating foods like whole grain breads and vitamin-fortified cereals, but if you don't, a good multivitamin or prenatal supplement will ensure that you get the recommended amount.
Thiamin deficiencies are rare in the United States, so you probably don't need to worry about not getting enough. Deficiencies are most common in developing countries where people's diets consist mainly of white rice. Thiamin is contained in the outer coating of rice, which is usually removed in processing. (That's why you'll often see white rice that's enriched with thiamin.)
In industrialized countries, alcoholism is the main cause of thiamin deficiency. Alcohol makes it hard for the body to absorb thiamin.
What are the signs of a thiamin deficiency?
Early signs include weakness, nausea, and fatigue. Severe deficiency, also called beriberi, causes difficulty walking, loss of feeling in hands and feet, loss of muscle function or paralysis of the lower legs, mental confusion, speech difficulties, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath with activity.