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Diane Miller - The B vitamins: thiamin not only helpful, but vital for life

    The B vitamins have in common a function of helping our body use the energy from food.
    However, each B vitamin is an individual with specific food sources and functions in the body. All of the vitamins, including the B complex, are very important to us, they are “vital to life.” The B vitamins are water soluble. For our purposes this means that they are not stored to any great extent in the body. We need to make foods rich in B vitamins a regular part of our diets. Some B vitamins have a number and a name, some just a name. We begin with B1 or thiamin.
    Thiamin helps the body release energy from carbohydrates during metabolism. Thus, persons who expend more energy and have a higher intake of calories need more thiamin than those who eat fewer calories. Thiamin also plays a vital role in the normal functions of the nervous system.
    Eating a variety of foods that contain thiamin is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. Pork and beef are good meat sources and all foods made from “enriched” flour are good sources. Check your breakfast cereal. You should find many are very good sources of thiamin.
    Some thiamin can be lost from foods during preparation and cooking because thiamin may be dissolved in the cooking liquid.
    To keep storage losses small, use enriched or whole-grain pasta or rice and do not wash before cooking or rinse after cooking; cook vegetables in a minimal amount of water and roast meat at a moderate temperature and cook only until it is done; cooking at a high temperature destroys thiamin.
    A disease called beriberi develops with prolonged absence of thiamin. It is typically not a problem in the United States.
Because no problems have been noticed for having too much thiamin, there is no Upper Limit set for thiamin.
    For more information on vitamins contact Diane at (912) 871-6130, dianem@uga.edu or www.ugaextension.com/bulloch.
    Extension in the Kitchen is offering a class in the how-tos of canning tomatoes on Saturday, June 28. Preregistration and $5 is required. Please call for more information.

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