B1 by Dale Bennett
B1, also known as thiamine, is absolutely essential for human health.
Without it, our bodies can't properly process carbohydrates, the most
common source for the energy that our bodies need every day.
Thiamine is needed to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an essential
part of the chemical transformation of food into energy which takes
place in every single one of the cells in our bodies.
B1 is one of eight B vitamins, also called "B complex vitamins,"
all of which share this characteristic of converting carbohydrates
into fuel - glucose - for our cells. Thiamine was designated "B1"
because it was the first of the B complex vitamins to be discovered.
B1 also has a role in helping the body metabolize proteins and fats.
B1, like all the B vitamins, is "water soluble," meaning it
readily dissolves in water. This is significant because it means that
excess thiamine is flushed out with the urine and cannot be stored in
the body for long periods. This, along with the fact that the human
body cannot produce its own Vitamin B1, means that, for good health,
we must consume the vitamin on a fairly regular basis throughout our
of Vitamin B1 to the point of disease or dysfunction of the body is
rare, but anorexics, alcoholics, those suffering from Crohn's
Disease, and patients undergoing kidney dialysis are much more likely
to be deficient in this essential nutrient than the general
population. Abdominal pain, depression, irritability, and fatigue are
some of the symptoms of a lack of Vitamin B1.
Vitamin B1 deficiency is very severe, a disease called beriberi can
result. Symptoms of beriberi, in addition to the above, include
having trouble breathing, irregular and involuntary eye movements,
mental confusion, and a tingling or burning feeling in the feet and
hands. It's rare for this severe deficiency disease to be found in
the developed world, because our diets almost always include adequate
amounts of Vitamin B1.
B1 has been found to be very effective in treating a kind of memory,
nerve, and vision disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, or
WKS, which is particularly common among alcoholics. And research
indicates that between 30 and 80 percent of alcoholics have a
detectable thiamine deficiency. Increased Vitamin B1 also mitigates
the effects of alcohol withdrawal.
studies have shown that Vitamin B1 supplementation can help prevent
kidney damage among patients with Type 2 diabetes. Those who took 100
mg of thiamine three times daily had significantly less albumin in
their urine than those who did not take the supplements, and albumin
in the urine is a typical measure of the kidney damage due to this
you suffer from epilepsy and take the drug phenytoin, a new study
indicates that taking 50 to 100 mg of Vitamin B1 in addition to your
medication can improve your mental functioning.
doses of thiamine can also benefit older adults suffering from
cognitive decline, including Alzheimer's disease, according to some
researchers. New studies report better mental function and fewer
memory and senility-related problems. But to see these results, the
doses have to be quite large - from 3,000 to 8,000 mg every day.
Research is ongoing in this area and the results so far are
encouraging - but not conclusive, according to some scientists.
from recent studies are that Vitamin B1 is also helpful in preventing
glaucoma (pressure-related nerve damage to the eye which can result
in a reduced field of vision and even blindness) and cataracts (a
clouding of the lenses of the eyes, which can lead to decreased
vision or blindness).
with almost all vitamins and nutrients, the best way to get the
benefits of Vitamin B1 is by eating a natural, balanced, healthy
diet. That way, not only do you get enough of the essential element
you're looking for (and in a way in which it's virtually impossible
to overdose), but you also get the benefits of the synchronicity of
multiple natural vitamins and trace elements - possibly even
including some we aren't yet aware of - working together in way in
which the overall effect is greater than the sum of its parts. Most
foods contain some thiamine, but animal products, blackstrap
molasses, legumes, brewer's yeast, bran, wheat germ, and whole grains
and rice are particularly rich sources.
some cases, though - such as exist with people on restricted diets,
or needing unusually high doses - supplementation is a good idea.
The normal Recommended Daily Allowance is between 1.1 and 1.4 mg a
day for adults. Supplements at much higher dosages, from 50 to 100 mg
a day, are often prescribed when necessary (in one study of female
volunteers, it was found that 50 mg daily of thiamine measurably
improved mental acuity). It is often better, though, to take a B
Complex supplement instead of B1 alone, as taking large amounts of
one of the B vitamins alone can create an imbalance in the others.
Vitamin B1 is water-soluble and easily flushed from the body if there
is any excess, it's extremely rare for anyone to suffer from an
overdose. Those few rare cases that exist are usually a result of
anaphylactic shock due to direct injection of excessive thiamine into
line: B1 is necessary for both life and health. Make sure you eat a
healthy diet rich in this nutrient and, if certain conditions apply
to you, consider supplementation, always staying within the safe
dosage guidelines. As always, do your own research and intelligently
take charge of your own health today!
RF. Thiamin. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ,
editors. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th ed. Baltimore:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006
Stuff Works, "How Vitamin B1 Works,"
, accessed 7 May 2014
"Thiamine: Vitamin B1,"
, accessed 7 May 2014
Info, "Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Benefits and Sign of Deficiency,
, accessed 7 May 2014