- Nirusha Pahladi ANutr
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
Vitamin B1, also called Thiamin or Thiamine is recognised as the ‘morale vitamin’ because it helps you to feel positive and happy, and it is used in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It does this by helping the body to maintain a healthy nervous system which is important for effectively combating symptoms of stress.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is a member of the B-complex family of vitamins. In the human body, it exists mainly in the forms of thiamin diphosphate (TDP) or thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP); thiamin is needed by the body to produce energy and helps to keep the body and mind in good shape.
Thiamin is essential for converting food into energy (it serves as a cofactor for several enzymes involved in energy metabolism) and also essential for the nervous system; it assists the transmission of electrical signals in the nerves and muscles. It also has an important role in the formation of red blood cells and a number of digestive and cardiovascular processes.
Thiamine is an essential micronutrient; the body is not able to make thiamin for itself and the good news is that this vitamin is present naturally in many foods. However, like all B vitamins (water-soluble), this vitamin can also be easily lost from the body as it is water-soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water; this essentially means the vitamin can be easily transported around the body to be absorbed by tissues and organs, then they are excreted, mainly through urine. Other water-soluble vitamins are Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin). Nutritional studies showed that a deficiency in any of the water-soluble vitamins will result in a clinical syndrome that may cause a severe morbidity or mortality. We aim to cover other vitamins in future articles.
Associated Deficiencies to Vitamin B1
● Weakness and muscle pains
● Numbness and prickling in legs
● Water retention
● Nausea and stomach pains
● Poor concentration
Individuals with certain medical and non-medical conditions are more susceptible to vitamin B1 deficiency, e.g., alcohol dependency, older age, diabetes, post-bariatric surgery, malignant disease, gastrointestinal disease, pregnancy, lactation, fasting, starvation, use of unbalanced diets, hyperthyroidism, renal failure on hemodialysis, and systemic infections. Individuals with severe anorexia and people whose diet consists mainly of highly processed carbohydrates (such as polished white rice, white flour, and white sugar) may not consume enough thiamin. People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol often substitute alcohol for food and thus do not consume enough vitamin B1, are at high risk of developing the deficiency. Also, alcohol may interfere with the absorption and metabolism of this vitamin and may increase the body’s need for thiamin.
Beriberi is a disorder caused by vitamin B1 deficiency, which can present as wet or dry beriberi. Wet beriberi presents as a high-output cardiac failure with signs of edema, an enlarged heart, warm extremities, tachycardia, and respiratory distress. Dry beriberi is predominantly a neurological complication involving the peripheral nervous system and presents with peripheral neuropathy, malaise, muscle weakness, seizures, brisk tendon reflexes, leg cramps and pain. Infants and children are susceptible to vitamin B1 deficiency as well, presenting as infantile or childhood beriberi.
● Whole grains such as brown rice, barley, bulgur and whole meal pasta
● Meats, especially pork and liver
● Yeast extract
● Nuts (peanuts), legumes and pulses
● Also salmon is a type of fish that contains good amount of thiamine.
Most foods contain at least a small amount of vitamin B1, although the more a food is processed, the more thiamin is removed. High temperatures also destroy vitamin B1, so by toasting a slice of bread you lose up a to a third of its thiamin contents.
How Effective Is Vitamin B1 For Good Health?
Mind and emotion – probably the main use of vitamin B1 supplements is for treating mood disorders. Studies have shown that people with a high thiamin intake are less likely to suffer from low self-esteem and depression. It can also help to alleviate sleeping problems.
Anti-stress - thiamin is also called the anti-stress vitamin as it helps boost the body's immune system in times of stress.
Thiamine also plays a role in the nervous system as mentioned above (transmission of electrical signals in the nerves) so they are needed for good brain functioning.
Concentration and alertness - vitamin B1 has been found to be beneficial in boosting memory and mental agility, especially in older adutls. It's been reported some athletes use thiamin to increase their concentration levels and performance as it is not a prohibited substance.
Alcoholism - vitamin B1 can help to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It is also needed to replace the thiamin that has been lost through alcohol abuse.
Energy booster - vitamin B1 can increase energy levels and lower blood pressure, improving all round health.
Multivitamin tablets usually contain 1.4 mg of vitamin B1, which is sufficient for an average person to stay healthy and avoid deficiency. An increased amount of thiamin is most effective when taken as part of a B-complex supplement. This will benefit individuals who need to raise their level of alertness or improve their mood
Vitamin B1 can be easily loss due to alcohol, caffeine and stress. Pregnant women, smokers, heavy drinkers and those who eat a lot of carbohydrates may need to take a supplement.
Please note it's best to avoid alcohol if you're taking thiamin for a vitamin B1 deficiency and if you take thiamin to treat vitamin B1 deficiency, it may take a few weeks before you start to feel better.
Please note the information provided here should not take place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in and questions about what may be best for your overall health.
The vitamin B1 known as the ‘morale vitamin’ is crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system and can have a powerful effect on your mood and alertness.