Vitamin B1



The vitamin itself is thiamine‚ or thiamin. This is the form in which it occurs in the diet. But the active form of Vitamin B1 is not plain thiamine but its derivative, thiamine pyrophosphate. This is the co-factor that works directly in the enzyme systems. The body can produce the cofactor from dietary thiamine but cannot make thiamine itself. This must be provided in the diet, which is the main criterion for a vitamin. The best known reaction in the body that involves thiamine is on the pathway by which the body breaks down glucose to carbon dioxide and water, with the release of energy. In this process glucose is converted, through a number of stages, to pyruvic acid and then to Acetyl Co enzyme A. Then the Acetyl Co enzyme A is converted onward to carbon dioxide and water. Conversion of pyruvic acid to Acetyl Co enzyme A absolutely requires the presence of thiamine pyrophosphate. There are also other key steps in bulk nutrient metabolism for which thiamine is required. Illnesses and symptoms should not be used as a sole guideline for vitamin provision. However, conditions for which thiamine is often used include several that affect either the circulatory system or the nervous system. These are both systems badly affected in Vitamin B1 deficiency. These include anaemia and congestive heart failure, alcoholism, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s palsy and neuritis. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) has also been shown to specifically benefit from very high levels of administration. Various other conditions, such as constipation, diabetes, sciatica and stress have been reported as benefiting. Any benefit in these cases may be non specific, but it is our recommendation to give some level of B complex supplementation in all cases that receive any nutritional supplementation whatsoever. This should be enough to provide luxury supply, removing any concerns over deficiency. Beriberi – is a nervous system disease that represents an extreme deficiency of thiamine. It is hardly, if ever, seen in Western countries and has occurred mainly in rice-eating countries where whole rice has been replaced with polished rice in an otherwise limited diet. When this happens the high thiamine content that is present in the outer seed coat of the rice is lost through refining and polishing, making a crucial difference to nutritional status. The other overt human disease arising from severe deficiency is Wernicke‚Äôs encephalopathy, which is associated with alcoholism. >>Source

Uses in the body: essential for carbohydrate metabolism, energy release and healthy heart, brain, nervous system, muscle function.

Signs of deficiency: extreme weakness (such as beri-beri in developing countries with poor diet), depression, numbness and tingling in the extremities, poor memory, headache, disturbed sleep.

Therapeutic uses: especially useful for those who smoke or drink heavily, do strenuous physical work, have a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, have heart problems or those who are breastfeeding, on a growth spurt or under a lot of stress.

Dietary sources: brown, unpolished rice, wholegrains, wholewheat flour, brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, nuts, beans, peas, cereals, potatoes, pork.

Recommended daily allowance: 1.4mg
Typical therapeutic daily dose: 10mg to 100mg
Daily intake shouldn’t exceed: 100mg

Cautions: not to be taken by people with kidney disease or children under 12 years. Toxicity is rare but has occasionally occurred in people receiving repeated injections of B1.

Best taken: in a B-complex, as it works together with other B vitamins, in a yeast-free form with breakfast. Very ill or alcohol-dependent people may be given B1 by injection for maximum absorption.