February 07, 2014

Vitamin B1

            Vitamin B1, also called thiamine or thiamin, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly, and are needed for good brain function.

Functions of Vitamin B1

  • It is called an "anti-stress" vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body's ability to withstand stressful conditions. 
  • Body needs thiamine to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy. Thiamine is also necessary for proper functioning of muscles.
  • B1 helps to maintain normal heart function. It also functions in the proper formation of blood.
  • It helps to regulate the production of hydrochloric acid, which is integral for maintaining proper digestive function.
  • B1 helps in the maintenance of healthy nerves. 
  • Thiamine also contributes to optimal cognitive activity, normal brain functioning, and learning capacity.
  • B1 also acts as an antioxidant, helping to guard the body against the degenerative effects of free radicals.


  • Nuts, seeds and legumes 

                  Green peas, black beans, split peas, lentils, navy beans, lima beans, pinto beans, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, pistachios, pecans and sesame seeds. Raw sunflower seeds provide more thiamine than other nuts and seeds.

  • Whole Grains 

                  Whole and enriched grains, such as long-grain rice and oats, are excellent sources of vitamin B1. Common whole-grain and enriched foods that provide vitamin B1 in abundance include wheat bran cereal, plain bagels, egg noodles, spaghetti, oat bran, wheat germ and English muffins.

  • Vegetables and Fruits 

                   Romaine lettuce, asparagus, crimini mushrooms, boiled spinach, celery, tomato, eggplant, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers, watermelon, carrots, squash, turnip greens, broccoli, green beans, yellow corn, kale, pineapple, oranges, cauliflower, Swiss chard, collard greens, garlic and grapes are good sources.

  • Brewer's yeast

                   Nutritional yeast and blackstrap molasses contain large amounts of vitamin B1.

Daily Recommendation

  • Men 19 years and older: 1.2 mg (RDA)
  • Women 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 1.4 mg (RDA)


  • People with thiamine deficiency also have trouble digesting carbohydrates. That allows a substance called pyruvic acid to build up in their bloodstream, causing a loss of mental alertness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage, a disease known as beriberi. 
  • Lack of thiamine can cause dementia in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke's disease involves damage to nerves in the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

Who are Prone to deficiency

People with Crohn's disease 
People undergoing kidney dialysis


Symptoms of thiamine deficiency are fatigue, irritability, depression and abdominal discomfort.


Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin and as such, it is least likely to reach toxic levels. However, there is an exception. When thiamine is taken intravenously (injections), it has been reported to cause anaphylactic shock in few people. Symptoms of a thiamine overdose may include a feeling of warmth, weakness, sweating, nausea, restlessness, difficulty breathing, tightness of the throat, bluish coloured skin, and death.


                           Vitamin InfoLivestrongUMM Edu

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