Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is the first discovered vitamin from the vitamin B group. Vitamin B1 is an essential component of the enzyme thiamine pyrophosphate, which is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Thiamin, along with other vitamins of B group, is involved in the utilization of fats and proteins, and also keeps the heart healthy and the mucous membranes. Thiamin plays a role in converting glucose into biological energy required for the proper functioning of the brain. Also, thiamine is involved in certain metabolic reactions occurring in nervous tissue, heart, formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of smooth and skeletal muscle.
RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for thiamine is:
- 3 mg for infants under 6 months;
- 4 mg for those from 6 months to a year;
- 7 mg for children aged 1 to 3 years;
- 9 mg for children 4 to 6 years;
- mg for children aged 7 to 10 years.
Needs vary slightly in terms of gender, with over 10 years:
- Males 11 to 14 years need 1.3 mg thiamine, 1.5 mg of 15 to 50 years and 1.2 mg for those aged 50 years;
- Females 11 to 50 years need 1.1 mg and 1.0 mg for over 50 years.
RDA is slightly higher for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and is 1.5 mg and 1.6 mg.
Needs also increase by 0.5 mg for every 1000 calories you additionally enter in the basic 2000 calorie recommended daily intake.
High-dose of thiamine is used in the treatment of certain metabolic disorders, including enzyme deficiency disease “Maple syrup urine disease” (MSUD) and Leigh’s disease. Thiamin can be helpful for people who have diabetic neuropathy.
Also, it is considered that thiamine may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, motion sickness and aphthous stomatitis in the mouth. Although thiamin deficiency causes aphthous stomatitis in the mouth, taking larger amounts of thiamine after aphthous stomatitis will not act on their faster recovery.
- Natural resources
Thiamine can be found in almost all foods of plant and animal origin, but the highest concentrations are found in nuts, brown rice, seafood and cereals. Legumes, milk, beef and pork are also rich in vitamin B1. Thiamin is destroyed after long exposure to high temperatures, but not freezing. Food should be cooked with a small amount of water, you can’t delete vitamins that are soluble in water, along with thiamine. Tea drinking or eating alcohol reduces the amount of thiamine which is absorbed by the body.
Thiamine has the form of oral, intravenous and intramuscular. Thiamine injections are usually used for patients who have severe deficiency of thiamine. Supplements should always be stored in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Deficiency of thiamine
Thiamine deficiency leads to a condition known as beriberi, which was once common among sailors, and in today’s modern world is rare, except in alcoholics and some diseases. Beriberi is present in camps and shelters for refugees, and in Asia is a major cause of death among infants. The syndrome usually includes loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal pain, weakness, swelling of the extremities, muscle spasms, insomnia and loss of memory.
If treated the condition immediately improves, but if left untreated leads to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Such patients are confused, disoriented, have trouble with speech and gait, limb edema, paresthesia, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, and if the situation continues there is psychosis, coma and death. This condition, even in advanced stages can improve if given thiamine, with improved diet and stop of using alcohol.
The main risk factor for developing a thiamine deficiency is alcoholism. Overall, alcoholics eat little and have a low intake of thiamine, and other vitamins. Alcohol directly affects and destroys thiamine, while also increases its excretion.
People with liver cirrhosis, diabetes, kidney disease, chronic infections or hypermetabolic states also have an increased risk for thiamine deficiency. Older people who have poor nutritional status, and problems with absorption need supplements. Other people with inadequate diets, increased stress, illness or surgery can also benefit from supplements of thiamine. The use of cigarettes, carbonate and citrate as additives in foods can reduce the absorption of thiamine.
A lack of vitamin B1 is often enclosed with lack of other B vitamins, and other nutrients. Therefore it is best to take supplements containing B complex.
Precautions and Side Effects
Thiamine should not be given to patients allergic to B vitamins, which rarely occurs.
In very unusual circumstances, high doses of thiamine can cause rash, itching or swelling. These reactions are more common in receiving intravenous thiamine. Most people have no side effects at oral thiamine.
Oral contraceptives, antibiotics and certain groups of diuretics may decrease concentrations of thiamine in the body. Taking this vitamin can intensify the effects of neuromuscular blocking agents used during some surgical procedures.
B vitamins are best absorbed as a complex, magnesium improves the absorption of thiamine.