Vitamin B1

Thiamine, thiamin or vitamin B1, named as the “thio-vitamine” (“sulfur-containing vitamin”) is a vitamin of the B complex. First named aneurin for the detrimental neurological effects if not present in the diet, it was eventually assigned the generic descriptor name vitamin B1. Its phosphate derivatives are involved in many cellular processes. The best-characterized form is thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), a coenzyme in the catabolism of sugars and amino acids. In yeast, TPP is also required in the first step of alcoholic fermentation.

All living organisms use thiamine, but it is synthesized only in bacteria, fungi, and plants. Animals must obtain it from their diet, and thus, for humans, it is an essential nutrient. Insufficient intake in birds produces a characteristic polyneuritis. In mammals, deficiency results in Korsakoff’s syndrome, optic neuropathy, and a disease called beriberi that affects the peripheral nervous system (polyneuritis) and/or the cardiovascular system. Thiamine deficiency has a potentially fatal outcome if it remains untreated. In less severe cases, nonspecific signs include malaise, weight loss, irritability and confusion.

The stable and non-hygroscopic salt thiamine mononitrate is the vitamer used for flour and food fortification. Thiamine is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.

Thiamine is a vitamin, also called vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal grains, beans, nuts, and meat. It is often used in combination with other B vitamins, and found in many vitamin B complex products. Vitamin B complexes generally include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folic acid. However, some products do not contain all of these ingredients and some may include others, such as biotin, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline bitartrate, and inositol.

People take thiamine for conditions related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency syndromes), including beriberi and inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) associated with pellagra or pregnancy.

Thiamine is also used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea.

Thiamine is also used for AIDS and boosting the immune system, diabetic pain, heart disease, alcoholism, aging, a type of brain damage called cerebellar syndrome, canker sores, vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, motion sickness, and improving athletic performance. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude; enhancing learning abilities; increasing energy; fighting stress; and preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin B1, helps fuel your body by converting blood sugar into energy. It keeps your mucous membranes healthy and is essential for nervous system, cardiovascular and muscular function.
Nutritionists categorize vitamins by the materials that a vitamin will dissolve in. There are two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, which include the B-complex group and vitamin C, travel through the bloodstream. Whatever water-soluble vitamins are not used by the body are eliminated in urine, which means you need a continuous supply of them in your food. Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin.

Vitamin A deficiency is rare in the United States, but it can cause night blindness, eye inflammation, diarrhea and other problems.

Eye health

Essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 together with vitamin B1 help ensure eye health and prevent the formation of cataracts.
Some research has shown that thiamine can help to defend against vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. This is due to its ability to influence nerve and muscle signaling, which is important in relaying information from the eyes to the brain.


Thiamine is needed to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s main energy-carrying molecule, within the mitochondria of cells. Thiamine 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. Thiamine also helps break down proteins and fats too. We know that the coenzymatic form of thiamine is involved in two main types of metabolic reactions within the body: decarboxylation and transketolation. After eating something containing thiamine, it is transported in the blood and plasma and then used by the cells to convert energy.

Thiamine also plays an important role in the production of red blood cells, which are used for ongoing energy. Because thiamine and other B vitamins are naturally energy boosting and required to produce ATD from foods, you will often find B Vitamin Complex supplements labeled as “energy boosting” or “healthy metabolism” products. Ingesting thiamine is supplement form is also sometimes given to patients to help correct metabolic disorders associated with genetic diseases.

Cardiovascular System

Having enough thiamine in the body is essential for producing the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. This is used to relay messages between the nerves and the muscles, our heart being one of the main muscles that relies on these crucial signals.

In order to maintain proper cardiac function and healthy heart beat rhythms, the nerves and muscles must be able to use bodily energy to keep signaling to each other. 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


Vitamin B1 is responsible for converting sugar into energy. The vitamin acts as a co-enzyme in oxidizing sugar to produce energy for the smooth functioning of the body organs, especially the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys.

Improves brain function

It ensures smooth functioning of the brain and helps improve memory and concentration. Vitamin B1 helps relieve stress and also helps strengthen the nerves. The vitamin is used to reduce the progression of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis, and other infections.

Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Vitamin B1, which is also referred to as thiamine, is a coenzyme used by the body to metabolize food for energy and to maintain proper heart and nerve function. Thiamine is used to digest and extract energy from the foods you eat by turning nutrients into useable energy in the form of “ATP”.

Without high enough levels of thiamine, the molecules found in carbohydrates and proteins (in the form of branched-chain amino acids) cannot be properly used by the body to carry out various important functions.

Thiamine is used in combination with other B vitamins, which make up the “B Vitamin Complex”, to regulate important functions of the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and digestive system. Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin and is used in nearly every cell in the body. It is especially important for supporting energy levels and a healthy metabolism.

A thiamine deficiency can cause weakness, chronic fatigue, heart complications, psychosis, and nerve damage. Thiamine can be found in many commonly eaten foods including yeasts, certain whole grains, beans, nuts, and meat. Additionally it is included in many vitamin B complex supplement products.

The clinical signs of a thiamine deficiency include:

Anorexia or rapid weight loss
Poor appetite
Ongoing digestive problems such as diarrhea
Nerve inflammation (neuritis)
Decrease in short-term memory
Muscle weakness
Mental changes such as apathy or depression
Cardiovascular effects such as an enlarged heart

It’s pretty rare in the United States for a person to be deficient in this vitamin. A lack of it can cause beriberi, a condition that involves confusion, muscle wasting, nerve problems and a rapid heartbeat. It’s usually only seen in the United States in babies who are fed formula that isn’t supplemented with Vitamin B1 or in people who drink large amounts of alcohol. People who drink heavily should talk to their doctors about how to quit drinking and whether they need vitamin B1 supplements.

Vitamin B1 - sources