A Spoonful of Health

A Blog About Wellness

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Water Soluble Vitamins – Thiamin and Riboflavin

For the next few weeks we will be talking about the Water Soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are vitamins that are excreted when we urinate and defecate, so need to be replaced regularly. There are 7 water soluble vitamins, 6 of which are B vitamins, and the 7th is Vitamin C.

Foods contain certain amounts of water soluble vitamins, but that is not necessarily the amount our bodies get. Because of chemical processes in the body and because water soluble vitamins are so unstable, they get destroyed easily in high temperatures, prolonged storage and sometimes just being left out in the air. This is why many vegetables are flash frozen, it helps to keep more of the nutrients and vitamins intact. I will always suggest frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables over canned, which are full of preservatives, salts and sugars.

Today we will start with Thiamin and Riboflavin.


Thiamin is essential for energy metabolism and maintaining nerve cell membranes.

Thiamin deficiency is known as beriberi (sounds nice right? well it’s not). It is uncommon in North America, but other parts of the world it is very common,, especially parts of Asia. Alcoholics are also prone to thiamin deficiency because of poor absorption in the GI tract, liver damage which leads to thiamin not becoming active as well as thiamin is needed to metabolize alcohol.

Thiamin is present in nearly all nutritious foods. Whole grains are especially important, they are the major source of thiamin. In Canada, white flour has to be enriched with thiamin, as well as other B vitamins and iron.

As I said earlier, water soluble vitamins are easily lost in cooking, thiamin is one of the most unstable of the vitamins.Roasting, broiling, and baking all result in thiamin loss. Using small amounts of water, or getting a specialty cook ware set where water isn’t even needed will result in the least loss of thiamin. Baking soda also destroys thiamin.


Riboflavin helps to metabolize carbohydrates, lipids and protein. Riboflavin also helps to activate other vitamins, such as B6. Riboflavin is essential for growth, including immune function and red blood cell formation.

With a deficiency of riboflavin body tissues become inflamed and can breakdown. Again due to foods being enriched, it is very uncommon in North America.

Milk and milk products are the major sources of riboflavin, followed by whole grains and enriched foods.

Like thiamin, riboflavin is lost when it is cooked in large amounts of water. Ultraviolet light also kills riboflavin.

That’s it for today! See you next Friday! Feel free to comment or ask questions!