Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

This is the second article in the B complex vitamins series. As mentioned in our original post "The B-Complex Vitamins – Simplified" (March 2015), the members of the ‘Vitamin B Complex’ are actually varied in their actions in the body and their availability in foods.” Thiamine, formerly known as Vitamin B1, is one of the essential energy-producing vitamins.

In the annals of vitamin discoveries, thiamine was the first of the B family to be identified. Because of that it was called Vitamin B1. It is now “officially” called thiamine and falls into the "energy releasing" category of the B Complex vitamin. The deficiency disease of this vitamin is called beriberi and is still seen in Asian countries. In the West, the disease may occur in alcoholics.

Importance of Thiamine

Thiamine is essential for carbohydrate metabolism, the process of breaking down food into fuel for the cells, especially for cells of the brain and heart. This B vitamin is also essential for the metabolism of the branched chain amino acids and for nerve tissues in the conduction of nerve impulses, muscles, digestion, and for the normal functioning of the heart.

Thiamine is one of the important vitamins needed for the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy. It also helps to support immune function during periods of stress, which is why it's sometimes referred to as an anti-stress vitamin.

Causes of Low Thiamine Levels

There are many outside factors that can work to decrease the level of thiamine in the system or affect its availability to the cells of the body. A few of these outside factors are: alcohol, tea, coffee, baking or frying of foods. In some cases a deficiency could be created. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is protective of thiamine.

Maintaining Healthy Levels of Thiamine

It is the above possibilities, and because thiamine is water soluble and lost in urine and sweat, that I suggest people take at the low end 50 to 75 mg on a daily basis. Children should take less, from 20 to 50 mg. However, depending on age, physical stature and lifestyle, such as being involved in sports, the need would increase.

Also, adjust HOW thiamine is taken: do not take with alcohol, tea or coffee so that optimal absorption may be achieved. Although thiamine is added to some processed foods, such as flour, a more dependable source is either a B Complex formula in pill or capsule form or a multivitamin with meaningful amounts of this and all of the B Complex nutrients.

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