Vitamin B1, also known as thiamin, was one the first organic compounds to be recognized as a vitamin. Like all the other B complex vitamins, it is water-soluble and not stored in the body; therefore, excess amounts are excreted. Also like other B vitamins, B1 makes it possible for the body to convert food into usable fuel to maintain our life-sustaining functions.*
Vitamin B1 is used by every cell and plays vital roles in the body, such as:*
- Aerobic energy production, the process by which sugar (glucose) is converted into usable energy
- Healthy development of myelin sheathing, the material that surrounds and protects most nerves
- The production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that relays messages between the nerves and the muscles, including that vital muscle, the heart.
- The formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy.
Symptoms of B1 Deficiency
- A severe deficiency in vitamin B1 results in chronic muscle weakness and lethargy. This deficiency disease is called beriberi, a name derived from a Sinhalese word meaning “weakness.”*
- Insufficient vitamin B1 intake can result in damage or degradation of the myelin sheath. Symptoms such as pain, prickly sensations, or numbness may be the result.*
- According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, symptoms of B1 deficiency may include fatigue, irritability, depression and difficulty digesting carbohydrates, which allows a buildup in the blood of a substance called pyruvic acid, which, in turn, contributes to a loss of mental alertness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage.*
- According to NIH , thiamin deficiency is the established cause of an alcohol–linked neurological disorder known as Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), but it also contributes significantly to other forms of alcohol–induced brain disorders such as cognitive impairment, including alcohol–induced persisting dementia (i.e., “alcoholic dementia”).*
Vitamin B1 Absorption
Absorption of vitamin B1 requires sufficient amounts of other B vitamins; specifically, Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.*