Thiamine or Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is water-soluble and not stored by the body. It is part of the group of 8 B-vitamins and is needed to manufacture adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that is required for energy production by every cell in the body. Men require 1.2mg and women 1.1mg of Vitamin B1 daily.
Health benefits of Vitamin B1
Most people are not deficient in vitamin B1 unless they have some autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, are undergoing kidney dialysis or have anorexia nervosa. Those who do have a deficiency will find it difficult to digest carbohydrates and as a result pyruvic acid builds up in the blood stream and causes various illnesses. The health benefits of vitamin B1 are many and are required to treat and prevent various illnesses.
Health benefits for Beriberi : One vital health benefit of vitamin B1 is in the treatment of beriberi that is caused due to its deficiency. Symptoms of beriberi are tingling, burning and swelling of feet and hands, trouble breathing due to fluid collection in the lungs, confusion and nystagmus – uncontrolled eye movements. Poor people in developing countries are more likely to suffer from beriberi rather than those in developed countries.
Benefits for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) : WKS is an illness caused due to thiamine deficiency and it mostly affects alcoholics (30% – 80%). Giving them vitamin B1 injections helps to decrease the risk of getting WKS or its symptoms in alcoholics. High thiamine doses can improve confusion and muscle coordination but rarely can it improve memory loss in WKS patients.
Benefits for Alzheimer’s disease : Studies have suggested that vitamin B1 can slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Those who have Alzheimer’s have been given 100mg of thiamine and their conditions have improved.
Benefits for energy production in body : Vitamin B1 helps with sugar oxidization, as it is part of the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme system. As part of this system, thiamine helps in energy release and aids in normal body functions. All B vitamins function together and use protein, carbohydrates and fat to produce and release energy. This energy is required for several important body functions – breathing, digestion and blood circulation.
Benefits for cardiac health : When people suffer from heart problems, they are given diuretics that rid the body of unwanted fluids. However, the negative aspect is that vitamins like thiamine also get washed out, causing a deficiency. A daily intake of 50-100mg of vitamin B1 supplements is required for heart patients.
Vitamin B1 helps create neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is required to transmit messages between the muscles and the nerves. This process is needed for good cardiac functioning. A deficiency in thiamine can cause irregular cardiac functioning. The health benefits of vitamin B1 for the heart has been proven for there was an improvement when congestive heart failure patients where given IV vitamin B1 for seven days. There were significant changes in their ECG, which proves that vitamin B1 helps reduce incidences of heart failure.
Benefits for myelin sheath : The myelin sheath is found around the nerves and deficiency in vitamin B1 can cause degeneration of this sheath leading to various nerve cell problems like damage and death.
Benefits for the mind : Nervous disorders like Bell’s palsy and multiple sclerosis can be improved with proper intake of vitamin B1 also called ‘morale vitamin’. It has a positive impact on the mind and helps people maintain a healthy attitude, improves memory and concentration.
Benefits for mucous membrane : Mucous membranes that coat the inner linings of the eyelids, nose and lungs, protect the body from foreign invaders that carry infections. These membranes depend on vitamin B1 for good health as it provides the nutrients to keep building new cells. A B1 deficiency can cause mucous membranes to dry and crack therefore making the body susceptible to various infections.
Other benefits of vitamin B1
- Vitamin B1 along with other vitamins and nutrients can lower the danger of developing cataracts.
- As a powerful anti-oxidant, thiamine can reduce signs of aging
- Since it helps in hydrochloric acid secretion, it helps in proper digestion of food.
- RBC production is influenced by the presence of vitamin B1. Good RBC count can keep you active and healthy.
- Symptoms of cirrhosis, hyperthyroidism and other infections that affect alcoholics can be improved by thiamine.
- Vitamin B1 helps a person maintain a health appetite.
- Thiamine works with brain’s neurotransmitters and regulates appetite.
- Vitamin B1 corrects problems of maple syrup urine disease and Leigh’s disease – both genetic diseases.
- Thiamine also benefits pregnant women who have inflammatory conditions like peripheral neuritis or those with pellagra – a vitamin-deficiency condition.
- Those who suffer from chronic diarrhea or ulcerative colitis benefit with sufficient intake of vitamin B1.
Other uses of vitamin B1:
- Cerebellar Syndrome – a form of brain damage
- Canker sores
- Motion sickness
- Improved athletic performance
- Prevention of cervical cancer
- Slowing kidney disease progress in those with type 2 diabetes
- Prevention of stress
Foods rich in Vitamin B1
The best health benefits of vitamin B1 can be got from asparagus, yeast and liver. Other excellent sources include spinach, crimini mushrooms, tuna, flaxseeds, spinach, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, romaine lettuce, rye, sunflower seeds and green peas. , Animal food sources like beef kidney or liver, egg yolks are also rich in vitamin B1. Fortified cereals, corn meal, corn, brown rice, wheat germs, nuts and berries are all good sources too.
Precautions with Vitamin B1
Pregnant and lactating women must be especially careful and make sure they take the correct quantities (1.4mg daily). Vitamin B1 generally does not produce any side effects. Excess can cause an upset stomach. An excess taken over a long period could result in imbalance of other vital B vitamins.
Vitamin B1 works with other B vitamins to metabolize food. It is important to eat foods rich in this vitamin or take required supplements to enjoy the health benefits of vitamin B1 and prevent illnesses like Beriberi, WKS, and heart problems, nervous and mental disorders.