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Vitamin B1 Overview

Vitamin B1, also called thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin. The active form is a phosphorylate of thiamin called thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP). TPP functions in carbohydrate metabolism to help convert pyruvate to acetyl CoA for entry to the Krebs cycle and subsequent steps to generate ATP. Thiamin also functions in maintaining the nervous system, memory, and heart muscle health.

A deficiency of thiamine causes a condition known as beriberi. In the U.S., thiamine deficiency is most commonly seen in alcoholics, although it can occur in the presence of several diseases and in a pregnancy accompanied by severe vomiting. The major symptoms of beriberi or Vitamin B1 deficiency involve the nervous system causing sensory disturbances, muscle weakness, and impaired memory; and the heart causing shortness of breath, palpitations, and, eventually, heart failure. Wernicke’s syndrome is a serious complication of alcoholism and thiamine deficiency that may manifest as impaired muscle coordination, impaired ability to move the eyes, and marked confusion. It may lead to Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic disorder in which memory and learning are impaired. A significant trend emerged in our thiamine research. A number of studies show the development of thiamine deficiency as a result of hospitalizations and especially in those on parenteral nutrition without the introduction of vitamins and minerals that are required by the body on a daily basis. Thiamine deficiency also results from overuse of alcohol, nutritional deficiencies and excessive vomiting and often goes unrecognized until the symptoms are dramatic and by that time may be irreversible.

Research shows that dietary thiamin requirements are based on caloric intake, those individuals who consume more calories, such as athletes, are likely to require a higher than average intake of thiamin to help process the extra carbohydrates into energy. During acute periods of stress, thiamin needs may be increased.

Dietary Sources: Food sources include nuts, liver, brewer’s yeast and pork.

Dosage: The RDA for thiamine ranges from 1.1 mg to 1.5mg for lactating women.

Side Effects: No adverse side effects are known with thiamin intakes at RDA levels or even at levels several times the RDA.


Research Overview

Thiamine research shows the following:
1. Involved in the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, from nerve cells
2. Thiamine deficiency results in generalized muscle weakness and mental confusion.
3. Increases energy production
4. Maintains memory
5. Improves carbohydrate tolerance
6. Athletes may require a higher than average intake of thiamin to help process extra carbohydrates into energy.
7. Thiamine needs may be temporarily elevated during stress
8. Thiamine supplementation improves quality of life in elderly
9. Lowers blood pressure
10. Thiamine deficiency exacerbates effects of alcohol on memory

Vitamin B1 Abstract Summaries (198)

Vitamin B1 Abstracts (205)