Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

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what is Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine or Thiamin and Aneurine, is one of the eight essential B vitamins and has many important functions throughout human body. It is the first B-complex vitamin to be discovered, and like other B vitamins, Vitamin B1 is water soluble; meaning that it is not stored inside fat cells in the body. It is an essential nutrient involved heavily in glucose production. The body doesn’t produce it and even the body does not store significant amounts of it. It is concentrated in muscle tissues after intestinal absorption. Vitamin B1 is a coenzyme that is used by the body to metabolize food for energy and to maintain appropriate heart and nerve functions. Thiamine has the significant role of helping us digest and extract energy from the foods we eat. It also improves immunity and learning and memory. Though thiamine deficiency is not common in developed countries, some factors including alcohol abuse and poor nutrition can cause symptoms like weight loss, irritability, poor memory, confusion, fatigue, and general malaise (feeling of being unwell). Even thiamine deficiency can cause neurological complicated symptoms like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) and Beriberi.[1]

Benefits Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is required by our bodies to properly use carbohydrates. Since thiamine can only be stored in the body for a short time before it is readily excreted, a regular dietary intake of thiamin is essential to maintain good blood levels. It is found in many foods including yeast, cereal grains, beans, nuts, and meat. Vitamin B1 supplement can help you with low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency syndromes), including beriberi and inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) associated with pellagra or pregnancy. Vitamin B1 is used by the people who have heart disease, metabolic disorders, aging, canker sores, cataracts, glaucoma and motion sickness. A study published by the Vietnamese American Medical Research Foundation found thiamine can improve the cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This B vitamin is also important for a wide range of brain functions and ailments in others.[2]

The common health benefits of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) include:
  • Strengthens the immune system [3]
  • Improves the body’s ability to keep a positive mood [4]
  • Reduces stress [5]
  • Improves cognitive performance [6]
  • Maintains a healthy metabolism [7]
  • Protects the brain [8]
  • Improves cardiac function, urine output, weight loss, and signs and symptoms of HF [9]
  • Helps with patients with alcohol dependence [10]
  • Helps people who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia [11]
  • Improves memory [12]
  • Helps with glaucoma and improves vision [13]
  • Is used in fighting cancer [14]
  • Helps with diabetes [15]
  • Helps in increasing energy [16]
  • Helps with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) and Beriberi [17]
  • Improves athletic performance [18]

Really Vitamin B1 has many therapeutic benefits. It is also used for AIDS, chronic diarrhea, heart disease, poor appetite, GI disorders, alcoholism, stress and aging. Vitamin B1is also used for maintaining a positive mental attitude, hindering memory loss, enhancing learning abilities, fighting stress and increasing energy. Vitamin B1 or thiamine is crucially important for a severe neurological disease known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy syndrome which is caused by deficiency of this vitamin.

How it works

Like all B vitamins, Vitamin B1 is water soluble and gets absorbed directly into the blood from the gastrointestinal tract. Once absorbed into the circulatory system, thiamin can circulate freely without carrier molecules in plasma and red blood cells until it is eventually excreted in the urine. While in the body, it can be stored in the liver, but only for a maximum of eighteen days. It has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once absorbed into the blood, the thiamin diphosphotransferase enzyme converts thiamin from its provitamin form into its active form, thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP). This reaction requires magnesium as a cofactor. TPP is a coenzyme that is involved in several enzyme functions associated with the metabolism of carbohydrates, branched-chain amino acids, and fatty acids.[19] Thiamine seems to have anti-atherosclerotic and detoxification activities. It may have several ergogenic effects meaning enhancing physical performance, stamina or recovery in exercise or athletics. It may also inhibit the damaging effects of glucose and insulin on smooth muscle endothelial cells in arteries.


Vitamin B1 is generally well tolerated and safe when taken appropriately either orally or intravenously. The pregnant or breast-feeding women can use it orally safely. However, large dosages may cause dermatitis, stomach upset, or allergic reactions. Thiamine may not properly enter the body in some people having liver problems, drinking a lot of alcohol, or having other conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before you begin any new supplements.


The recommended daily doses for vitamin B1 may vary depending on age, weight, sex, health status, dietary intake of other nutrients, activity levels and more. However, according to the USDA, the RDA for adults can be 1.2 milligrams a day for men and 1.1 milligrams per day for women.

Below is the RDA for vitamin B1 (thiamine) supplementation, according to the USDA:

  • 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; children 9–13 years, 0.9 mg
  • Adult men: 1.2 mg
  • Adult women: 1.1 mg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 1.4–1.5 mg

Again, though only can be prescribed by the doctors and used in certain cases, the typical dose for severe thiamine deficiency can be up to 300 mg per day. These high doses are given to those with thiamine deficiency to prevent complications. Up to 10 to 30 mg a day can be given to relieve neuropathy, 100 mg via IV once a day for several days can be given to relieve edema and cardiovascular complications, and 50 to 100 mg may be given by IV to those with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. To reduce the risk of getting cataracts, a daily dietary intake of approximately 10 mg of thiamine is recommended. You are advised to consult your doctor or healthcare provider to determine an appropriate dosage for you.