Vitamin B1 is otherwise known as Thiamin or Thiamine, that makes the human body utilize carbohydrates as energy. It helps the body in breaking complex carbohydrates (present in food) into sugar (glucose), fats, and proteins, which in turn gives energy for various physical activities. Vitamin B1 has a significant role in glucose metabolism.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is water-soluble, and it is one of the eight B complex vitamins. It is also known as “morale vitamin,” which plays a vital role in regulating the nervous system and improving cardiac health.
Basically, Vitamins are defined according to the substance they get dissolved in. Some vitamins dissolve in water and the remaining dissolves in fat. Water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin B1 are transported through the bloodstream. The unused vitamins in the body are eliminated through the urine.
Vitamin B1 is a colorless organo-sulfur substance that gets soluble in water and is carried throughout the human body by dissolving in the blood. Vitamins are not synthesized inside our body, and we need to take thiamin in the form of dietary food or supplements.
Thiamine was primarily discovered in the year 1897. Initially, Vitamin B1 was named “aneurin,” which is later changed to Thiamine or sulfur-containing vitamins.
Vitamin B1 is hugely significant for healthy body metabolism. When compared to other vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, this vitamin cannot be secreted by our body. Therefore, you have to take correct dietary requirements through external food and supplements. In the world, there are many natural food sources that are enriched with vitamin B1 and makes it enough for your daily requirements.
Food sources enriched with vitamin B1 are:
Vegetables: Vegetables that has a large amount of vitamin B1 or thiamine are asparagus, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, green peas, kale, lima beans, mushrooms, potato, romaine lettuce, spinach, soybean sprouts, squash, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and tuna.
Fruits: Orange is enriched with Vitamin B1.
Dairy products: Cheddar cheese, Milk, and Yoghurt also contain vitamin B1.
Breakfast cereals: Granola, Muesli, Oatmeal, Rye, and Whole-wheat are abundant in thiamin.
Grain products: Bread, Cornflour, Wheat germ and Pasta are rich in vitamin B1.
Animal sources: Foods from animals that have a massive amount of vitamin B1 are tuna, salmon, chicken liver, mackerel, mussels, pork, and beef.
Nuts: Vitamin B1 is also present in nuts like pistachio, flax seeds, brazil nut, macadamia nuts, pecan nuts, and peanuts.
As heating, cooking, boiling with water, and processing the food sources decreases the thiamine content found in it and therefore, it is suggested to take the source raw or slightly cooked.
Brown rice has ten times more Vitamin B1 when compared to White rice. There are high values of Vitamin B1 found in the outer layers of cereals, whole grains, and pulses, as well as in yeast.
Researchers say that one serving of breakfast cereal provides 1.5 mg of thiamin, which is more than the daily recommended amount (7g). Human body requires a continuous supply of thiamine or vitamin B1 daily because it is not stored in the body.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Benefits
Vitamin B1 aids in preventing issues in the nervous system, brain, heart, stomach, muscles, and intestines. Vitamin is also involved in the flow of electrolytes in the muscle and nerve cells. Some of the health benefits of Vitamin B1 are explained below.
Some studies have found that Vitamin B1 deficiency is common in diabetic patients. Consuming sufficient thiamine will reverse the damage that happens to the small blood vessels. High sugar levels may be the reason for the damage.
When foods enriched with thiamine are added to the diabetics patient’s diet, the secretion of enzymes that are important in glucose metabolism gets increased. This decreases the issues due to diabetes. Since thiamine foods are rich in dietary fiber, they also slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Thus, regulating diabetes mellitus.
Thiamine aids people with anxiety disorders. It minimizes anxiety by enhancing mental clarity, and also helps the brain to function effectively in people with anxiety disorders. It relaxes your mind and gives good sleep during nighttime. It acts as a natural stress-reliever and enhances nerve function.
Helps in Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease
Thiamine gives glucose to the brain, which is vital for the proper functioning of the brain. Brain functions like thinking capacity, memory, and learning are related to glucose levels and the efficiency of using them. For example, If glucose is not sufficient in the brain, neurotransmitters (brain’s chemical messengers) are not produced, and thus the connection between neurons breaks down.
Apart from that, thiamine is essential for serotonin secretion, which enhances your mood and appetite. Decreased serotonin levels can affect your mental health, create negative vibes and lead to depression. Studies found that treating depression patients with thiamine supplements has improved mood and symptoms of depression.
The chemical Acetylcholine found in the brain is essential for learning and memory. This chemical gets decreased in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Here, Vitamin B1 is required to secrete acetylcholine. So, the needed amount of thiamine intake keeps your brain healthy.
Prevents Nerve Damage
Thiamine aids in the development of myelin – a substance that surrounds the nerves, including nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin is built with protein and fatty substances, which allows electrical impulses to transmit fastly via nerve cells. If myelin gets damaged, then the transmitting speed of impulses slows down. So consuming a considerable amount of thiamine will strengthen myelin and prevent nerve damage. Apart from that, thiamine produces energy which is essential for normal nerve functions.
Helps in Digestion
Already we know that Thiamine aids in the breakdown of macronutrients (carbohydrates) and convert them into energy. Further, It aids in transferring this energy into cells and tissues for proper digestion of food. This will boost up the metabolism and help in appetite.
Thiamine also aids in the secretion of hydrochloric acid – an acid found in the stomach which is required for the proper digestion of food. So, consuming thiamine foods will provide good digestion.
Promotes Heart Health
Studies have found that treatment with thiamine provides an improvement in echocardiograms of people suffering from heart failure. Thus thiamine helps in preventing heart-related diseases. It improves left ventricular ejection fraction, increases urine output, regulates blood pressure, and maintains the overall function of your heart.
Other Health Benefits
Thiamine will protect your eye vision and thus prevents glaucoma and cataract issues. It also prevents skin damage and aging process. Thiamine also increases the production of energy and boosts body stamina. The other problems which are treated by Vitamin B1 are listed below.
--> Canker sores
--> Cerebellar syndrome
--> Cervical cancer
--> Diabetic pain
--> Kidney disease
--> Motion sickness
--> Muscle weakness
--> Nausea and vomiting
--> Persistent diarrhea
--> Poor appetite
--> Treats beriberi
--> Weak immune system.
--> Ulcerative colitis
The insufficient amount of vitamin B1 will commonly cause beriberi, which causes problems with the peripheral nerves. There are two main types of beriberi in adults.
Wet Beriberi: affects the cardiovascular system and leads to fast heartbeat rate, capillary wall weakening, shortness of breath, and leg swelling.
Dry Beriberi: damages the nervous system and causes numbness of hands and feet, confusion. It causes partial paralysis due to damaged peripheral nerves, which is also known as endemic neuritis. Here, it also leads to loss of appetite and constipation. Wernicke encephalopathy, Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, and Korsakoff syndrome may occur.
Gastrointestinal Beriberi: It causes abdominal pain, which is characterized by abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and lactic acidosis.
Another type of beriberi is acute beriberi that is found in babies and causes loss of appetite, lactic acidosis, vomiting, heart rate changes, and heart enlargement.
Thiamine insufficiency leads to decreased secretion of insulin. So, it is essential for the diabetics patient to consume their daily dose of Vitamin B1 via diet or supplements.
Thiamine deficiency may lead to poor mental health, confusion, cognitive decline, short-term memory loss, disorientation, and depression. It also creates a negative impact on the central nervous system.
Insufficient thiamine will be the reason for the degeneration of myelin; this may damage the nerves and cause nervous disorders like Bell’s Palsy and multiple sclerosis.
How Much Vitamin B1 Do We Need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of thiamin to be consumed is 1.2 mg for males and 1.1 mg for females over 18 years. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume 1.4 mg per day.
It is a powerful antioxidant that has enormous benefits. Even though it is a rare vitamin, insufficient thiamine may cause some deficiency syndromes in the nervous system, cardiovascular system, muscles, and gastrointestinal system. Deficiency may happen due to high excretion levels of thiamine or due to low absorption of thiamine in the body from food sources. The primary symptoms of thiamine deficiency are weight loss, confusion, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, heart problems, muscle weakness, short-term memory loss, depression, emotional instability, vomiting, and constipation, etc. So one should have a proper consultation with a doctor before the intake of thiamine.