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Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is an essential nutrient required by the body. It has many health benefits, from protecting the brain and heart to boosting the immune system. Keep reading to learn more about this valuable vitamin.

Introduction: What is Thiamine?

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Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is often called the vitamin of “reassurance of the spirit”. All tissues in the body require this essential nutrient. It is a cofactor in various parts of the body like the skeletal muscles, heart, liver, kidney, and brain (R).

Ingested Vitamin B1 from food and dietary supplements is absorbed by the small intestine through active transport at nutritional doses and by passive diffusion at pharmacologic doses (R).

Most dietary Vitamin B1 is in phosphorylated forms, and intestinal phosphatases hydrolyze them to free thiamine before the vitamin is absorbed. Humans store thiamine primarily in the liver, but in very small amounts (R).

The Thiamine That I Recommend

I take Thiamine as part of a B-Complex.  I believe that you should take a mixture of B vitamins because taking more of one can deplete you of another.  Here’s the B complex I recommend:

Thiamine Snapshot

  • Immunity9.0/10
  • Neuroprotective8.5/10
  • Heart8.0/10
  • Stress8.0/10

Pros

  • Boosts the Immune system
  • Restores Brain function
  • Helps digestion
  • Protects the Heart

Cons

  • Can cause adverse effects when taken in high amounts.

Health Benefits of Thiamine

1) Thiamine Ensures a Healthy Metabolism

The body needs Vitamin B1 to make ATP, the body’s main energy-carrying molecule. It helps in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is the preferred source of energy that the body runs off of to keep your metabolism running smoothly. It also helps break down proteins and fats (R).

2) Thiamine Boosts Immunity

Like other B-complex vitamins, Vitamin B1 is sometimes called an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions (R).

Administration of hydroxy thiamine, a Vitamin B1 antagonist, in adult rats, caused a significant decrease in immune system function (R).

3) Thiamine Protects the Brain

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Previous studies have reported low levels of thiamine and pyruvate dehydrogenase dysfunction in patients with ataxia, a condition that causes loss of movement. Long-term treatment showed significant improvements (R).

High-dose thiamine improves fatigue in patients after stroke (R).

Vitamin B1 helps with the development of the myelin sheath, a coat that wraps around nerves to protect them from damage and death in thiamine deficient rats (R).

Supporting vitamin B1 therapy not only constitutes neuroprotection but also has a favorable impact on advanced neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Wernicke’s encephalopathy, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome or Huntington’s disease (R).

In the brain, it is required both by the nerve cells and by other supporting cells in the nervous system (R).

Autopsy studies have shown that thiamine-dependent enzymes have decreased activity in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease (R).

4) Thiamine Supports Cardiovascular Health

Recent studies have shown that thiamine can be useful in fighting heart disease because it helps to maintain healthy ventricular function and to help treat heart failure (R).

5) Thiamine Can Prevent Type 1 or 2 Diabetes

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The proportion of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who have poor thiamine ranges from 17% to 79% in studies conducted to date. Studies have found that increasing Vitamin B1 intake decreases the severity of symptoms associated with early-stage diabetes (R).

6) Thiamine Can Prevent Alcoholism

Thiamine deficiency is the established cause of Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), an alcohol–linked neurological disorder. Alcohol consumption can damage the brain through numerous mechanisms, one of these mechanisms involves the reduced availability of Vitamin B11 to the brain as a consequence of continued alcohol consumption (R).

7) Thiamine May Lower Risk of Cataracts

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Recent studies suggest that it may lower the risk of developing cataracts. These studies show that people who ingest plenty of protein along with vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3 (or niacin) in their diet are less likely to develop cataracts. Getting enough vitamins C, E, and B-complex vitamins further protect the lens of the eye (R).

8) Thiamine Aids in Digestion

Thiamine helps convert the carbohydrates we obtain from our food into usable energy for our body. It is specifically needed for a system of enzyme reactions called pyruvate dehydrogenase, which works to oxidize sugars that we eat (R).

It is also necessary for proper functioning of the digestive system. Vitamin B1 helps to regulate the production of hydrochloric acid, which is needed for maintaining proper digestive function.

9) Thiamine Treats Beriberi

Thiamine deficiency causes beriberi. Some of the symptoms include swelling, tingling, or burning in the hands and feet as well as trouble breathing because of fluid in the lungs (R).

People in developed countries do not usually get beriberi because foods such as cereals and bread are fortified with vitamin B1.

Technical

  • The thiamine-using enzymes are transketolase, pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and alpha–ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (α–KGDH). All of these enzymes take part in the breaking down of complex sugar molecules (R).
  • Also, critical biochemical reactions in the body that defend against damage (i.e., oxidative stress) need Vitamin B1 enzymes. Free radicals, harmful, highly reactive oxygen molecules, cause that damage (R).
  • Additionally,  other two enzymes requiring thiamine, PDH and α–KGDH, also participate in different steps of the breakdown and conversion of glucose–6–phosphate. They go through two consecutive chains of biochemical reactions called glycolysis and the citric acid cycle (R).
  • Vit B1 administration ranged from 80 to 930 days. It was effective in improving total SARA scores from 26.6 ± 7.7 to 21.5 ± 6.2 (p < 0.02) (R).
  • In a subgroup of 13 patients who performed echocardiogram before and during treatment, interventricular septum thickness reduced significantly (p < 0.02). Frataxin mRNA blood levels modestly increased in one-half of treated patients (R).

Sources of Thiamine

Food Serving Thiamin (mg)
Lentils (cooked, boiled) ½ cup 0.17
Green peas (cooked, boiled ½ cup 0.21
Long-grain, brown rice (cooked) 1 cup 0.19
Long-grain, white rice, enriched (cooked) 1 cup 0.26
Long-grain, white rice, unenriched (cooked) 1 cup 0.04
Whole-wheat bread 1 slice 0.10
White bread (enriched) 1 slice 0.23
Fortified breakfast cereal (wheat, puffed) 1 cup 0.31
Wheat germ breakfast cereal (toasted, plain) 1 cup 1.88
Pork, lean (loin, tenderloin, cooked, roasted) 3 ounces* 0.81
Pecans 1 ounce 0.19
Spinach (cooked, boiled) ½ cup 0.09
Orange 1 fruit 0.11
Cantaloupe ½ fruit 0.11
Milk 1 cup 0.10
Egg (cooked, hard-boiled) 1 large 0.03
*3 ounces of meat is a serving about the size of a deck of cards (R)

Dosage

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Caution

Heating foods containing thiamine can reduce its content. For example, pasteurization reduces thiamine content by 20% in milk (R).

Buy Thiamine

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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5 COMMENTS

  • Ed C.

    Your needs and body ability to absorb is not equal in mg so that is not a sensible method to choose your course of action. Regarding B1 (thiamin) see my previous post, 50 mg of a fat soluble thiamin will result in 50 mg of thiamin being absorbed, 250 mg of ordinary water soluble thiamin gets you 2 to 4 mg absorbed. I’d advise you break your 250 mg tablets and take a piece every 4 hours or so to improve absorption a little. I’m pleased you found something that helps you.

  • Leon Chavarria

    I stopped taking my B complex when I discovered you don’t always get equal amounts (like 100 mg) of each vitamin. I’ve been taking medication for intractable (hard to control) epilepsy for 43 years…… so I started with 250 mg B1 (from Vitamin Shoppe) reading it increases bodily energy thinking it help’s a sluggish body – fatigue as well as ‘anti-stress’ and by the next morning the burning soles of my naked feet was gone, which has been bothering me for years, so now let’s see how it works on leaky gut and celiac (discovered in 2002) disease too! (note: I bought the B Complex at the grocery not from this site)

  • drob33

    There have been some breakthroughs with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Thiamine lately, namely the sources mentioned by ED C.

    Metabolic profiling indicates impaired pyruvate dehydrogenase function in myalgic encephalopathy/CFS: [phoenixrising]

    Furthermore:

    the pyruvate dehydrogenase function is dependent upon thiamine (B1), a deficiency of which could be of serious concern in ME/CFS. It is needed in the forms mentioned above.

    This is a big deal.

  • Ed C.

    This thiamin rec is way off the mark. Absorbtion of normal (water soluble) thiamin is limited by an active transport mechanism to a few milligrams a day. There are fat soluble forms (alliathiamin, benfotiamine, sulbutiamine) which solve this problem effectively: see Pubmed studies on congestive heart failure patients given 100mg water soluble thiamin (no effect) vs 100mg fat soluble thiamin (30% left ventricle ejection fraction increase) which is HUGE when you have congestive heart failure/thiamin deficiency caused by long term Lasix therapy making you pee out most of your thiamin.

    Links on this site reference a couple studies where intramuscular thiamin solves a problem. Injection is another way to bypass the limited absorbtion of water sol. thiamin but most of us have to use oral supplements. The fat soluble thiamins aren’t terribly expensive and can quickly provide a MAJOR boost in body thiamin stores, water sol. thiamin just can’t do it.

    Mostly enjoy the site.

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      Thanks Ed. We are still working on this post.

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