Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin belonging to the B group vitamins.
Vitamin B1 is essential for the body to be able to use carbohydrate as an energy source as well as for metabolising amino acids. A person's requirements for Vitamin B1 are increased when they are relying heavily on carbohydrates for their main source of energy. Vitamin B1 is also involved in the production of chemicals that allow nerves in the body to communicate with one another and pass nerve impulses, as well as for making genetic material such as DNA and RNA. Vitamin B1 is essential for the health of the brain, nerves and cardiovascular system. Large amounts of Vitamin B1 are found in skeletal muscles, the heart, the brain, the kidneys and the liver. Very little of this vitamin is stored by the body and it needs to be replenished in the diet regularly. There are no known cases of Vitamin B1 toxicity (overdose), although in some, rare cases people have had an allergic reaction to the vitamin.
Always consult your Health Professional to advise you on dosages and any possible medical interactions. Vitamin B1 is used medically to prevent or correct Thiamine deficiencies.
Vitamin B1 deficiency is common among alcoholics, as chronic alcohol consumption decreases the amount of Vitamin B1 absorbed by the body. Vitamin B1 deficiency also occurs quite commonly in parts of Asia where the main food source is polished rice, as removal of the rice husk greatly reduces the Vitamin B1 content of this grain. Vitamin B1 deficiency causes a disease called beriberi. There are two forms of beriberi: wet beriberi, which affects the heart and blood vessels, and dry beriberi, which affects the nervous system. Wet beriberi causes shortness of breath, heart palpitations, oedema (fluid build up in the tissues), and changes in the electrical activity of the heart and heart failure. Dry beriberi causes confusion, unsteadiness and poor motor coordination, lack of coordination of the eye muscles, weakness, sleep problems, memory problems, personality disturbances, depression and changes in the sensitivity of the nerves in the arms and legs.
Vitamin B1 is most concentrated in the germ of cereals and is easily included in the daily diet by eating unrefined and unprocessed cereal products, such as brown and wholegrain breads, brown rice, wheat germ (which contains 13 times the amount of Vitamin B1 found in white flour) and rice bran. Other sources include brewer's yeast, soybeans, millet, whole grains (especially unprocessed oats), sunflower seeds, meat, fish, molasses, dairy foods (not cheese) and poultry. Heavy alcohol or caffeine consumption may decrease Thiamine levels in the body. Foods low in Thiamine and likely to increase the body's demand for it are high carbohydrate diets and excessive consumption of white rice.
The recommended dietary intake (RDI) for Vitamin B1 is 1.1 mg per day for adult males and 0.8 mg per day for adult females, although women that are pregnant require an additional 0.2 mg per day and those that are lactating require and additional 0.4 mg. To correct deficiency, larger daily doses are given, sometimes using intramuscular injections. Like all B Vitamins, it is recommended that Vitamin B1 be taken as part of a complete B Complex supplement to ensure the correct balance of B Vitamins is maintained in the body.