Thiamine, also called B1, is part of the B complex vitamin family. It is naturally present in foods such as whole grains, nuts, beans, and meat. The cells in your body use thiamine to convert carbohydrates to energy. Besides preventing diseases like beriberi, adequate B1 vitamin levels promote a healthy immune system. Because it can store only a small amount in your tissues, you need to consume food or supplements with B1 every day.
If you eat a gluten-free, vegan or low-carbohydrate diet, you may need to consider a thiamine supplement. Think about checking for adequate B1 levels in your system as part of your health maintenance plan.
Benefits of Vitamin B1
Thiamine works like tiny engines in your cells to keep your mind and muscles working properly. It is essential for metabolizing carbohydrates for energy use instead of storing them as sugar in your body. Thiamine helps you keep a healthy weight as it regulates your metabolism and neural functions in your brain. It can be used in the treatment of metabolic disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Beriberi, a wasting disease caused by a thiamine deficiency, can be prevented by maintaining adequate levels of B1 in your system.
Search online for more information about vitamin B1 benefits.
Symptoms of a Vitamin B1 Deficiency
A thiamin deficiency can develop if you are pregnant, malnourished, drink too much alcohol or have other medical or immune-compromising conditions.
Common symptoms can include:
- Tingling sensations in your arms or legs
- Sudden appetite loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Other deficiency symptoms
While these symptoms may indicate other medical conditions, consider a lab test to check the vitamin B1 levels in your bloodstream.
How Much Thiamine Do You Need?
A balanced diet of whole grains, nuts, beans and meat may provide an adequate supply of thiamine in your diet. Processed foods may be fortified with vitamin B1 since the preparation often removes it. If you look at a fortified bread or cereal package, you often see thiamine mononitrate (a synthetic type of thiamine) as a listed ingredient. A multivitamin or a B complex vitamin usually contains thiamine mononitrate. Thiamine is also available in liquid form for infants or anyone that cannot swallow pills.
When you cannot eat a healthy diet or develop an illness, you may need to consider a thiamine supplement. Since vitamin B1 is water-soluble, any excess thiamine is eliminated by your body. Check online at the National Institutes of Health for information about a safe thiamine supplement dose.
Consult Your Doctor
Vitamin B1 is important throughout your life. Since thiamine deficiency is less common in developed countries, healthcare professionals do not always check for this problem. It can occur at any age with a sudden illness or a change in eating habits.
Check with your doctor if you have any symptoms of a thiamine deficiency. Before taking any thiamine supplements, have your doctor check that they will not interfere with any other medications or supplements that you are taking.