Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – deficiency, symptoms, and benefits

Vitamin B1 is one of the most crucial vitamins amongst other B vitamins. Also known as thiamine, thiamine is necessary for the growth, development, and function of cells. Without sufficient levels of thiamine, the molecules found in carbohydrates and proteins cannot be properly utilized by the body to carry out various vital functions.

B1 vitamin benefits include prevention of severe eye fatigue and neurological degeneration.

Vitamin B1 deficiency can be caused by some factors including unhealthy diet and diseases such as alcoholism, HIV, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal illnesses.

A Thiamine deficiency can cause

Rapid weight loss
Poor appetite
ColitisNerve damage and inflammation
Fatigue and Debility
A decrease in short-term memory
Confusion and Irritability
Muscle weakness and wasting of muscles
Cardiovascular disorders such as an enlarged heart and Congestive Heart Failure

Thiamine is needed to convert carbohydrates from our food, and the primary role of carbohydrates is to produce energy for the body, especially for the brain and nervous system.

Deficiency of vitamin B1 may lead to many chronic diseases including Beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which leads to the health symptoms mentioned above.

Beriberi affects regular breathing patterns, eye movements, heart function, and alertness whereas  Wernicke’s disease affects the nervous system and causes visual impairments and a lack of muscle coordination. If left untreated, it can lead to Korsakoff syndrome (Permanent damage to memory functions in the brain).

Vitamin B1 deficiency and disease related to it can be treated with thiamine injections or supplements. This may help with vision, muscular and neurological difficulties.

Most people can get all the thiamine they need from healthy food like poultry, peas, nuts, beans, cereals, pulses, legumes, bread, sprouts, green vegetables,  etc.

Avoid drinking lots of coffee or tea as this can lead to Thiamine deficiency. Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin which is expelled through urine. Therefore, make sure to maintain a well-balanced diet that can resupply the necessary amounts of vitamin B1 regularly.

When used along with other essential nutrients and vitamins, vitamin B1 can delay or prevent the occurrence of cataracts. It also works as a powerful antioxidant, which helps you protect your body from the signs of aging.

Vitamin B1 also helps in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which is essential for the complete digestion of food.

Vitamin B1 can improve your memory and brain power. It is also used in the management of many neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Bell’s palsy. Thiamine also plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells (RBC), which in turn keeps people healthy, active, energized and significantly improved appetite and mental alertness.

As a dietary supplement in adults, 1-2 mg of thiamine per day is commonly used. The daily recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of thiamine are: Infants 0-6 months, 0.2 mg; infants 7-12 months, 0.3 mg; children 1-3 years, 0.5 mg; children 4-8 years, 0.6 mg; boys 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; men 14 years and older, 1.2 mg; girls 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; women 14-18 years, 1 mg; women over 18 years, 1.1 mg; pregnant women, 1.4 mg; and breastfeeding women, 1.5 mg.

There are no reports available of adverse effects from consumption of excess Thiamine by ingestion of food and supplements.

Up to 80% of people with chronic alcoholism develop thiamin deficiency because ethanol reduces gastrointestinal absorption of thiamin and those who consume alcohol regularly should take healthy diet and consume appropriate supplements containing Thiamin.

Thiamine is also referred to as an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to fight stress and depression.