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Vitamin B1 - thiamin

Vitamin B1 or thiamin (or thiamine) is water-soluble as other B vitamins.

Thiamin are essential for many important functions in the body: the nervous system and the muscles, the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells (through ion channels), multiple enzyme processes (via the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP)), carbohydrate metabolism, and production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (which is necessary for proper digestion).

Thus vitamin B1 helps to convert sugar, carbohydrates, proteins & starch into energy to cover the body’s need. Little thiamine is stored in the body. Depletion can occur within 14 days.


Dietary sources of thiamin include beef, brewer's yeast, legumes (beans, foods containng vitamin B1 - thiaminlentils), milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, rice, seeds, wheat, whole-grain cereals, and yeast.

In industrialized countries, foods made with white rice or white flour are often fortified with thiamin, because most of the naturally occurring thiamin is lost during the refinement process.

Thiamin is obtained from both plant and animal source. Sunflower seeds, whole grain cereals, peanuts, wheat bran, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, sea-fish, liver, egg-yolk, kidney beans are good sources of thiamin. Here is a list of foods with the highest content of thiamin.

Daily intake

The recommended daily intake is 1.4 mg. However, a daily intake of about 50 mg may increase mental acuity. Such high doses are safely tolerated.


Severe chronic thiamine deficiency (beriberi) can result in potentially serious complications involving the nervous system, brain, muscles, heart, and gastrointestinal system.

Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's psychosis (the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome), which can occur in alcoholic individuals, is often associated with deficiency of thiamin and other B vitamins.

The symptoms of beriberi include swelling, tingling or burning sensation in hands and feet, difficulty in breathing, uncontrolled eye movements, and memory loss.

Thiamin deficiency heightens the chance of cataract in the eyes and it may lead to congestive heart failure. It can also cause Alzheimer’s disease, extreme fatigue, irritability, constipation, edema and enlarged liver.


There are no reports of adverse effects from consumption of excess thiamin. An intake of 500 mg daily for longer periods of time has not been associated with any toxicity. Excess thiamin is quickly eliminated in the urine.

References: 1 , 2 , 3

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