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Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

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Vitamins and minerals are an essential part of our daily life. Our body is not able to perform its various metabolic processes without vitamins. These are the micronutrients that are required in a specific amount for proper functioning of various processes in the body. Vitamins are divided into fat soluble and water soluble vitamins. Here our guide will help you explore about the benefits of vitamin B1, its potential risk factors, daily recommended amount and major dietary food sources to avoid its deficiency in the body.

What is vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin that is required by the body for various functions. It is necessary for the nervous system and supports heart health. Vitamin B1 provides antioxidant support to the people and is necessary for energy production in the body being an essential component in glucose production.

Our body cannot directly produce vitamin B1 itself, so it is found in various food sources like fortified breakfast cereals, commercial bread varieties and yogurt, some varieties of beans and seeds like black beans and sunflower seeds, enriched white rice and corn, meat sources like trout and pork. Human body cannot store vitamin B1 as it is water-soluble so it should be ingested on daily basis.

What are the benefits of taking vitamin B1?

Vitamins are essential products for our health. Our body needs different vitamins properly so that it can do its work good. One of the many benefits of vitamin b1 in the body is that it helps the body to turn the food into energy. Some other benefits about vitamin b1 are listed below:

  1. Boosts energy production

Vitamin b1 when absorbed into the human body, works as a booster for energy production. When it gets mixed in nutrients which contain sugar, it becomes a booster which helps the enzymes in the body to do their work faster, and also acts as an energy producer.

Vitamin B1 is helpful in the process of energy production and is an essential component in this aspect. The main principal source of energy for human beings is glucose. It is a carbohydrate sugar that is produced in response to ATP production and is the main source of fuel for the body. Vitamin B1 helps in the oxidization of the sugar before its usage in the body. Vitamin B1 is required as an essential component in the mechanism of pyruvate dehydrogenase system for glucose production.

  1. Reduces sepsis

Sepsis is a response to any infection caused in the body, and can also lead to fatal results if the body becomes deficient of vitamin b1. Vitamin b1 helps in reducing the risk of kidney and liver diseases which are caused by sepsis. Kidney and liver disorders can lead to increased risk of edema, numbness and tingling of hands and legs increasing the risk of sepsis. Vitamin B1 is helpful in controlling the sepsis production.

Doses of vitamin b1 are often prescribed to people who are going through nerve pain, in people who are going through severe diseases such as diabetes and kidney issues, and it also contributes positively as it reduces the need of taking pain killers.

  1. Provides antioxidant support

Vitamin B1 is considered as one of the strong antioxidants that is helpful in controlling the oxidation rate in the body and helps body fight against free radicals and oxidants. This antioxidant nature is helpful in managing the age-related symptoms that are due to free-radical production.

Studies prove that vitamin b1 works as a mood booster for people who are undergoing cases of depression or similar problems. It has been seen that people with deficiency of vitamin b1, are seen with low energy and low mood levels.

  1. Supports the nervous system

Vitamin B1 is a supportive component for the nervous system. It plays an essential part in improving the memory functioning in human beings and supports the nervous system. Vitamin B1 supports the maintenance of myelin sheath that is the covering of neurons. Neurons are the nerve cells of our brain that are covered with myelin sheath on their axon region. The myelin sheath is necessary for conducting nerve impulse. Vitamin B1 maintains the myelin sheath and supports nerve cells.

Thiamine, plays a vital role in improving the memory function of the human brain. Due to this characteristic, thiamine is also called “morale vitamin”.

  1. Supports the heart health

Vitamin B1 is a supportive water-soluble vitamin for maintaining the heart health. It is helpful in controlling the condition of tachycardia. bradycardia and arrhythmia. The unusual and irregular levels of heart beat are often caused due to deficiency of vitamins. The proper levels of vitamin B1 helps in maintaining the normal heart rhythms.

Sources of Vitamin B1:

Vitamin B1 is can be consumed through various dietary sources. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Breads and cereals group

Vitamin B1 being a water soluble vitamin is not made by the human body so it is required through dietary sources to compensate its deficiency. The best source of vitamin B1 and best form of vitamin B1 is the breads and cereals group in which whole-wheat sources are common. Whole-wheat breads, grains are cereals have higher amount of vitamin B1 especially in their wheat germ part. The husk of the wheat germ is loaded with essential nutrients, fiber and thiamine that are required by the body.

  1. Poultry and beef

Vitamin B1 is also available to some extent in the meat group like the poultry and beef. Thiamine is available in beef, poultry and organ meats like kidney and liver. It can ingested through these dietary sources in cooked form for their proper digestion and absorption to the cellular level.

  1. Nuts and legumes

Vitamin B1 can also be ingested through legumes, black beans and nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews. Legumes and beans are the plant-based dietary sources of proteins that are also rich in the essential nutrients like thiamine, iron and folate. Beans are the important dietary component that is packed with various nutrients. Nuts are enriched with healthy oils like omega-six-fatty acids helpful for the body.

Some other dietary sources that ensure the availability of vitamin B1 in them are the bran and rice, brewer’s yeast, vegetables like potatoes and blackstrap molasses.

How much vitamin B1 is required?

Vitamin B1 is required in different amounts at different age group levels and there are best time to take vitamin B1:

  • Infants up to age group of 6 months require 0.3 mg of thiamine
  • Infants up to age group of 7 months-1 year require 0.4 mg of thiamine
  • Children up to age group of 3 years require 0.5 mg of thiamine
  • Children up to age group of 8 years require 0.6 mg of thiamine
  • Teenagers up to age group of 13 years require 0.9 mg of thiamine
  • Teenagers up to age group of 18 years require 1.3 mg of thiamine in males and 1.0 mg of thiamine of females
  • Adults up to age group of 19-50 years require 1.3 mg of thiamine in males and 1.1 mg of thiamine in females
  • Adults up to age group of 51+ years requires 1.3 mg of thiamine in males and 1.1 mg of thiamine in females

What are the causes of vitamin B1 deficiency?

Thiamine deficiency is common in the people who lacks the appropriate amount of consuming this nutrient through dietary sources. There are many causes and risk factors behind the thiamine deficiency. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Long-term use of alcohol

Alcohol is one of the main cause and hindrance in nutrient absorption in the body. People who are more prone to alcohol use or misuse it on long-term basis lacks the ability to properly digest it in their body.

  1. Age factor

Human body is capable of absorbing nutrients inappropriate amount to some extent in their different age group periods. The absorption rate of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals is lower specifically in children and older age group. The dietary preference and needs of people change as the age advances, so older age is also a risk factor behind lower levels of thiamine in the body.

  1. Elevated levels of blood sugar

Thiamine is an important factor in the glucose production mechanism and its proper use in the body. The deficiency of thiamine can lead to disturbed glucose and elevated levels of blood sugar in the body.

  1. Eating disorders

People suffering from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are more prone to risk of thiamine deficiency. The anorexic patient is more prone to intake less food as they are conscious about their weight gain. This lack and lower intake of nutrients in the body can lead to deficiency of vitamin B1. Similarly, a patient of bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder is more prone to consume the fatty and junk foods that lack the proper amount of thiamine in them that can cause its deficiency.

  1. Long-term parenteral nutrition

Patients who are on IV-feeding and parenteral nutrition lacks the major nutrients in their diet that are not compensated through IV feeds. Short-term IV feeding might be not as much disastrous in terms of nutrient requirements. But long-term parenteral nutrition can cause deficiency of many vitamins and minerals especially the thiamine deficiency.

  1. Dialysis condition

Patients on the state of dialysis are more prone to deficiency of thiamine. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is absorbed readily in blood stream. Patients suffering from kidney disorders or getting treatment through dialysis are on less water intake that leads to poor absorption of thiamine.

Symptoms of Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Like every other vitamin, if vitamin b1 is not ingested in the human body in the proportion in which it should, there can be some problems in the human body. A deficiency of vitamin B1 causes:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting

Some of the symptoms are discussed in detail below:

  1. Poor appetite

One of the common symptom other than discussed above is the poor or no appetite. Thiamine is helpful in providing the feeling of fullness as it is readily available in the food products like whole grains, cereals and fortified breads that can satisfy the satiety levels and prevents hunger. The inadequate stores of thiamine in the body can disrupt this process and person might not feel hunger and lacks appetite. After the replenishment of thiamine stores in the body, this issue is resolved easily.

  1. Fatigue

One of another common and observable symptom is the fatigue in the body. Fatigue and lack of motivation to do necessary tasks is often due to lack of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals in which thiamine is worth-mentioning. Its deficiency can lead to fatigue as it is necessary for glucose pathway to produce energy.

  1. Irritability

Mood changes and irritability are often due to poor thiamine levels in the body. Thiamine is helpful in maintaining the levels of mood-hormones like serotonin and improves mood. Its deficiency can cause fatigue in the body and disrupts mood leading to irritability.

  1. Damage to nerve

Thiamine is important in maintaining the nerve health and neuron impulse. It helps in proper conduction of nerve impulse by maintaining the myelin sheath that is fat insulation on the axons of the neuron. Prolonged deficiency of thiamine triggers the poor nerve impulse and other conditions like neuropathy.

  1. Tingling sensations in arms and legs

The feeling of tingling and needle-like sensation in the arms and legs of the person is called as paresthesia. It is a symptom of thiamine deficiency and is a brain-related symptom. Thiamine is responsible for proper nerve impulse. Its deficiency is responsible for various nerve-related disorders in the body including the serious damage to peripheral nerves.

Side effects

There are no special evidences that can claim that too much levels of vitamin B1 can cause harm to the body. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that too much supplemental use of vitamin B1 is not good for health. It is recommended to consume it according to the daily requirement of the body. The major sources of vitamin B1 should be from the dietary sources.

Dn.Zainab Naeem is Hosting and Content Writing Head of SDNO. She is a freelance nutritionist and writer, and also a self-taught calligrapher, artist and chef.  She can be reached at @xayni_de_artista.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as sound medical advice for your particular illness; rather, it is meant to increase awareness of common health issues. Before implementing any recommendations made in this article or choosing a treatment plan based on its contents, you should always speak with a qualified healthcare professional.

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