If you’re a vegan like me who is constantly reading ingredients lists, you have probably seen “thiamine mononitrate” at least once. It’s added to many foods today as a source of vitamin B1. I decided to finally do some research to find out more about it.
So, is thiamine mononitrate vegan? Thiamine mononitrate is generally considered vegan. It is produced synthetically from thiamine hydrochloride, which is also vegan. You can find thiamine mononitrate supplements available today that are specifically labeled as vegan.
Keep reading for more details on how this vitamin is produced, the vegan foods where it naturally appears, and whether vegans typically get less thiamine (I did find one concerning study)!
What Is Thiamine Mononitrate?
Thiamine mononitrate is the form of thiamine (vitamin B1) most commonly used to fortify foods. It also commonly appears in pill form as a supplement. In your body, thiamine separates from the nitrate group and is used for many purposes.
Thiamine is a crucial vitamin for humans to consume. It’s used as a co-enzyme in ATP (energy) production. It’s also used in our nervous system to help transmit nerve impulses… and some other stuff that’s hard to understand without a biochemistry degree!
Deficiency of thiamine can cause delirium (source). Severe deficiency can cause a life-threatening condition called beriberi, which gets its name from the Sinhalese word for “extreme weakness.” Doesn’t sound appealing!
Thiamine is also a water-soluble vitamin. This means it does not accumulate in your body fat like the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). There has been no specified upper limit for thiamine consumption (source).
Often, you’ll see thiamine spelled as “thiamin.” Either spelling is technically correct, and there’s actually an interesting story behind that.
How Is Thiamine Mononitrate Made? Is It Vegan?
It’s pretty hard to learn about the exact process used to make thiamine mononitrate. But here’s the short answer: It’s typically synthetically produced and vegan. If you want to know more, here’s what I’ve learned…
Thiamine mononitrate is made from thiamine hydrochloride, which itself is made from thiamine sulfate. (source)
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) reports that Schiff Products, inc, one manufacturer of thiamin, has confirmed that they use a synthetic production process. VRG has deemed thiamin “Typically vegan.”
Apparently, the form of thiamine found in animal-sourced foods is called thiamine triphosphate—not thiamine mononitrate. (source)
Another reassuring sign is that Solaray makes a thiamin mononitrate supplement (Amazon link) which they specifically label as vegan.
Not to mention, several other companies make thiamin HCL supplements that are also labeled as vegan. Here are the Amazon links to check those out: Solger, EZ Melts, Country Life. (I’ve been happy with several Solger supplements, and they say “vegan” right on the jar. So I’d go with them, personally.)
Note: Before starting new supplements, you should consult your physician.
Does Thiamine Mononitrate Contain Dairy?
Thiamine mononitrate does not typically contain dairy. It is produced synthetically. I also found multiple thiamine mononitrate supplements that specifically state that they do not contain dairy. Here are those vitamins by Solaray and Purebulk.
Foods That Contain Thiamine
If you’re trying to increase your thiamine intake for any reason and would rather focus on foods than supplements, check out these food sources. I’ll list the vegan ones first.
Vegan foods that naturally contain thiamine:
- Legumes like beans and peas
- Oranges and orange juice
Vegan foods often fortified with thiamine:
- Rice (brown and white)
- Veggie burgers and mock meats
Non-vegan foods that contain thiamine:
- Dried milk
Is Thiamine Mononitrate Bad for You?
Thiamine mononitrate is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. As mentioned above, there has been no upper limit officially set on thiamine intake. That said, I wouldn’t recommend going crazy with it—see side effects below.
In the past, before thiamine fortification in foods, a lot more people got thiamine deficiency. Today, most of us don’t need to worry about that (unless you drink a lot of alcohol or fall into other specific groups).
So when you see thiamine mononitrate in food, it’s a good thing! That said, there can be side effects for some people, in some cases.
Thiamine Mononitrate Side Effects
It’s been noted that consuming thiamine in very high doses can cause an upset stomach (source).
Taking an imbalance of B vitamins can also cause problems (source). One way to reduce this risk is to supplement with a B-complex vitamin rather than individual B-vitamin supplements.
Thiamine can also have interactions with certain drugs—specifically with macrolide antibiotics like azithromycin (source). So check with your physician before starting thiamine supplementation.
And certain people can have allergic reactions—more often to intravenous thiamine, but also to oral supplementation.
Do Vegans Get Lower Levels of Thiamine?
Since thiamine is plentiful in pork, liver, and some other meats, vegans may naturally get a bit less thiamine than meat-eaters.
One study found that in a group of 132 healthy vegetarians, 10 were deficient in vitamin B1 (thiamine). This was compared to 0 deficient subjects in a group of 68 non-vegetarians.
And if you’re avoiding grains like cereals—maybe because of being gluten-free or paleo, too—then you may end up getting less thiamine for that reason.
However, vitamin B1 is not a major area of concern for most vegans. Vegans are not among the groups most susceptible to thiamine deficiency (source). It’s not one of those nutrients you hear about all the time as a vegan, like B12 or calcium.
Best Vegan Thiamine Supplements
I listed some vegan thiamine supplements earlier in the article. Here are the top two options I found in a little more detail:
- Solaray 100mg (Thiamine Mononitrate). Vegcaps containing some aloe vera. Great reviews. Great price. Love the bottle design.
- Solger 100mg (Thiamine Hydrochloride). Says “vegan” and “dairy-free” right on the front of the bottle. Great reviews. Non-GMO. I get a few other vitamins from this brand and have had a good experience.
Two More Recommendations for Your Vegan Journey
1. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in 13 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
2. This is the best vegan starter kit I know of. It’s a bundle of 9 beautiful e-books that help you transition to a healthy plant-based diet—the right way. The advice is spot-on, and it has print-outs and checklists that make it easy to implement. Read my full review of Nutriciously here.