Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Facts about Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is part of a group of water-soluble Vitamins known as the B Vitamins or B Complex. For several years Vitamin B was believed to be a single substance and not a group of Vitamins. Vitamin B1 was the first of the B Vitamins isolated in 1926, hence the number one.

Vitamin B1 is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It is important for energy production and the functioning of our nervous system, muscles, and heart. Because Thiamine is important for our brain cells, it also affects our mood.

Although all B Vitamins work in a close relationship, Vitamin B1 appears to work more synergistically with Vitamin B2 and B3.

Benefits of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1, B2 and Vitamin B12, have pain-relieving properties that are even more effective when these Vitamins are used in combination.

Vitamin B1 is important for energy production, nerve function, and brain cell viability. It is also said to stabilize our appetite, to promote growth, and to boost our mood.

Thiamine is necessary for the metabolism of alcohol, although alcohol in turn interferes with the absorption of Thiamine.

Possible uses include:

  • alcoholism
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • anxiety
  • atherosclerosis
  • Crohn's disease
  • depression
  • diabetes mellitus
  • hepatitis
  • insomnia
  • multiple sclerosis

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiency

Beriberi is the classic Vitamin B1 deficiency which attacks the nervous, cardiovascular, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems. Serious cases of Beriberi result in paralyses and often death. Another Thiamine deficiency is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome because alcohol interferes with the absorption of Thiamine.

A deficiency can be caused by diet, lifestyle, or medication. A disease of the digestive system can also interfere with the absorption of Thiamine. High intakes of sugar (glucose) require more Thiamine because the Vitamin is used in the metabolism and needs to be replaced. In particular high sugar intakes in children should be monitored.

Deficiency symptoms include:

  • anorexia
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • heart palpitations
  • indigestion
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • memory loss
  • mental confusion
  • muscular weakness
  • sore muscles
  • weight loss

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Toxicity

There are no toxic levels of Thiamine known today, thus there is no defined upper limit of intake. Vitamin B1 is only marginally stored in our body and excessive amounts are easily excreted in the urine. However, drowsiness or hypersensitivity to Thiamine is possible but rare.

Foods high in Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Although most foods contain Thiamine, most of its content is often lost during processing. Thiamine is a water-soluble Vitamin that easily dissolves in water and can also be destroyed at high temperatures during cooking. Thus, many foods are fortified.

Dietary sources include:

  • beans
  • beef
  • chicken
  • fish
  • fortified cereals
  • green leafy vegetables
  • lentils
  • liver
  • milk
  • nuts
  • organ meats
  • pork
  • potatoes
  • rice polishing
  • seeds
  • soybeans
  • yeast
  • wheat germ

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies currently state 1.2mg for adult men and 1.1mg for adult women. Australia and New Zealand adapted the same values as their Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs).

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