A Guide to Vitamin B-1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B-1 is also known as “Thiamine” or “Thiamin.” It was the first of the eight B-vitamins to be discovered by scientists. It is also a very important substance to animals and people because they use this vitamin and other B-vitamins to digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins. People also seem to have other uses for vitamin B-1 to control vital everyday bodily functions. As a result, Thiamine is a versatile and important B-vitamin which people should know more about.
Here is a comprehensive guide about vitamin B-1 that can help people learn more about this vitamin and its uses. The guide is broken down into five sections that can help people learn various things about vitamin B-1.
Sections of the Guide
Section I includes information about some of the basic characteristics of vitamin B-1. This information can help people learn more about the vitamin’s functions and why it is vital to one’s good health.
Section II briefly outlines how people use vitamin B-1 in their bodies. This information includes how the body uses vitamin B-1 to maintain and regulate brain and heart activity. People can use this information to gain a better appreciation for Thiamine’s importance to a person’s health.
Section III describes what sorts of foods people can eat to obtain Thiamine. The list of foods that contain Thiamine is very long. As a result, people can quickly learn if any of their favorite foods have vitamin B-1.
Section’s IV and V
In addition, people can also learn how to cook or preserve foods that contain vitamin B-1 in such a way that they can keep more of this nutrient in their food.
Section IV provides USDA suggested daily intake values of vitamin B-1 for men and women of all ages. People can use this information to get a good idea of how much of the vitamin to take to maintain their health.
Finally, Section V lists some of the health problems that are associated with a Thiamine deficiency. People can learn what can happen to their circulatory systems and their central nervous systems if they don’t eat enough foods that contain Thiamine. Hopefully, this section can teach people the importance of eating enough foods that contain Thiamine.
At the end of the guide there is a bibliography which can help readers do research on Thiamine on their own if they wish.
Section I: Thiamine’s basic characteristics.
Here some of Thiamine’s most important characteristics which readers should know about:
Vitamin B-1 is a water-soluble vitamin that serves many useful purposes in the body due to its unique crystalline structure.
Vitamin B-1 is a water-soluble vitamin that serves as a catalyst (or co-factor) for metabolic reactions in the body. This is the case because it features a unique crystalline structure that makes it water soluble. This enables many parts of the body to quickly absorb and use the substance. As a result, many body functions rely on vitamin B-1 in at least a token manner because the body requires the body to metabolize food to work at its absolute best.
Furthermore, vitamin B-1 is also a very fragile vitamin that cannot be produced on its own by people’s bodies.
Vitamin B-1 is a fragile substance because it cannot tolerate high temperatures, ultraviolet light or alkaline conditions. It also cannot tolerate sulfates and other preservatives that are found in many processed foods because they tend to easily act as an oxidizer that creates other materials that are of no real use to the body. This fragility makes it difficult for the body to store enough Thiamine in the body for everyday purposes.
Furthermore, people cannot produce vitamin B-1 in their bodies. This is true because a person’s body does not have the physiological ability to create the crystalline structure that makes vitamin B-1 water soluble. As a result, people must eat enough foods that contain vitamin B-1 each day to maintain the right level of vitamin B-1 in the body.
Section II: Thiamine plays an active role in several everyday essential bodily functions.
Thiamine is an important B-complex vitamin to consume because it helps the body perform several important everyday functions. Here are some of the most important bodily functions that Thiamine helps the body perform each day:
Vitamin B-1 helps your body convert food into energy by acting as a catalyst that aids in digestion.
Most of us eat a variety of fats, proteins and carbohydrates every day. These foods are difficult for the body to digest because they require several processes to break the materials down into simple sugars that your body can quickly convert into energy.
Vitamin B-1 helps the body digests fats proteins and carbohydrates by acting as a catalyst compound that aids in breaking down fats, proteins and carbohydrates into simpler substances. This makes it possible for the body to gradually break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates safely and gradually into the building blocks the body uses for energy. As a result, Thiamine plays a very important role in digestion and metabolism.
Thiamine helps your body keep its mucous membranes in the digestive system healthy.
Many of us take our mucous membranes for granted. This is a bad idea because our mucous membranes allow us to keep out dirt and most pathogens from entering our bodies by creating mucous that coats the lining of the lungs, nostrils and eyelids. Vitamin B-1 keeps these membranes healthy by giving them basic building blocks that they need to build new cells and tissue inside the body.
Vitamin B-1 helps the body’s nervous system function normally by providing the building blocks that are needed to maintain healthy nerve cells.
Thiamine helps the body’s nervous system function normally by providing the basic building blocks that are needed to maintain a neuron’s structure and function. This is true because the outer covering of a neuron contains Thiamine in its chemical make-up. As a result, vitamin B-1 plays an important role in maintaining a healthy nervous system.
Finally, Thiamine also helps the body’s cardiovascular system function normally by maintaining healthy red blood cells and blood circulation.
The circulatory system uses vitamin B-1 to maintain red blood cells and circulation by using Thiamine as a co-factor in maintaining the structure of red blood cells. This allows the circulatory system to function normally without putting as much stress on the heart and blood vessels.
There are many foods that people can eat that allow them to get enough vitamin B-1 into their diets. However, people must also be careful how these foods are processed or cooked because vitamin B-1 is a very fragile vitamin that is easily destroyed.
People must eat enough foods rich in vitamin B-1 each day because the body cannot store enough of the substance in its tissues to meet its everyday needs. Thankfully, there are many foods that people can eat each day that can give the body enough vitamin B-1 for the day.
Here are some examples of foods that are rich in vitamin B-1:
- Fruits such as oranges and pineapples.
- Whole grain foods such as rye meal cornmeal, oatmeal, wheat bran and rice.
- Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, kale and peas.
- Meat products such as cured ham, pork, veal hearts, liver and salmon.
Other foods such as brewer’s yeast and cheese also contain vitamin B-1. As a result, people can find several foods that are rich in vitamin B-1 to meet their tastes and budgets.
However, it is also important to carefully consider how to cook or process these foods because Thiamine is a very fragile vitamin.
This is the case because vitamin B-1 is very sensitive to heat and light. It is also very sensitive to many of the sulfates, sulfites and other chemical preservatives that are common in processed foods.
As a result, people should try to avoid using chemical preservatives to preserve foods that contain vitamin B-1. Furthermore, people should also try avoiding baking, boiling or heating most foods that contain vitamin B-1 because they could lose most of the substance during the cooking process.
This is especially true for most of the vegetables that contain vitamin B-1 because they tend to lose most of the vitamin B-1 they contain when they are introduced to heat during the cooking process.
The amount of vitamin B-1 needed each day for a healthy lifestyle depends on many physiological and lifestyle factors.
The amount of Vitamin B-1 that is needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle varies according to a person’s age and other factors. This is true because people tend to have different needs for vitamin B-1 that depend on the person’s physiological requirements, their caloric needs and their lifestyle choices. As a result, people will have different energy needs that require different amounts of vitamin B-1 to function properly.
Here is a look at the suggested amounts of vitamin B-1 that the United States Department of Agriculture feels is enough for different persons in different age groups. They are reprinted from page 280 of the fourth edition of the Handbook of Vitamins edited by Zempleni, Rucker, et al:
- Children under 1 year of age should consumer 0.2-0.3 mg of vitamin B-1 per day.
- Children 1-8 years of age should consumer 0.5-06 mg of vitamin B-1 per day.
- Males 9-13 years of age require 0.9 mg per day.
- Males and females 11-18 years of age require 1.1-1.2 mg per day.
- Males and females over the age of 19 require 0.2-0.3 mg per day.
- Males and females over the age of 19 require 0.2-0.3 mg per day.
- Females 9-14 years of age require 0.9-1.0 mg per day.
- Pregnant and lactating females require 1.4 mg of vitamin B-1 per day.
As you can see, people tend to need more vitamin B-1 while they are growing up or pregnant because they need more energy to compensate for the drastic changes in their bodies that are occurring.
This makes it important to eat enough foods that contain vitamin B-1 throughout each stage of life because serious medical conditions could develop if people forget to eat enough foods that contain vitamin B-1 on a consistent basis. Section V below outlines these possible health problems.
People who do not eat enough foods that contain vitamin B-1 can face serious medical problems and even death if they are not treated in time.
This is true because vitamin B-1 is a very important player in several essential brain and heart functions that require a catalyst or co-factor to provide enough energy to execute properly. As a result, animals and people must eat enough foods rich in vitamin B-1 to avoid possibly serious health problems.
Here’s a look at some of the more common health problems that people can encounter if they don’t get enough vitamin B-1 into their diets:
One of the most common health problems that people with low thiamine levels encounter is called Beriberi.
This awful disorder can affect the central nervous system or the cardiovascular system because the body cannot get enough energy to fuel the day-to-day activities of these areas of the body. When this happens, people can suffer from anorexia, fatigue, mental confusion, weight loss, delirium, wasting of the muscles and an enlargement of the heart.
People with very severe cases of Beriberi can die because the heart does not receive enough energy to work properly. This usually happens to people who are alcoholics or malnourished. The disorder can also happen to people who consume the vast majority of their calories from only simple carbohydrates.
Another common health problem that a vitamin B-1 deficiency can engender is called wernicke-korsakoff syndrome.
This syndrome affects the central nervous system of alcoholics who have destroyed their body’s ability to use and maintain vitamin B-1. It is thought that this syndrome happens in two stages that are named for the discoverers of this disorder.
How the Syndrome Works
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the “Wernicke” stage of the syndrome causes the nerves in the central and peripheral nervous systems to fail. This is true because the lack of vitamin B-1 can cause important enzymes around the nerves to fail to function properly. Once this happens, people can suffer from delirium, slurred speech and eyesight problems and irreversible nerve damage. Other patients have reported difficulty walking correctly and even hallucinations.
After these symptoms go away, the “Korsakoff” stage of the syndrome kicks in. When this happens, people can lose their ability to remember things. As time passes, people can begin to develop short-term and long-term memory problems that are irreversible if they are not treated in time.
Finally, people can also make heart problems much worse by not including enough Thiamine in their diets.
This is true because many people who take water pills for several common heart problems often have trouble absorbing enough vitamin B-1 into their systems. When this happens, many heart patients end up with many of the same symptoms that patients who suffer from Beriberi endure.
The National Library of Medicine. “MeSh Descriptor Data Page about the Mucous Membrane.”
The University of Maryland Medical Center. “Vitamin B1 (Thiamine).”
Combs, G. F. Jr. The Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health. 3rd ed. Ithaca, NY: Elsevier Academic Press, 2008: PP 266-268.
Mahan, L.K & Stump. S. Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy. St. Louis, Mo: Saunders Elsevier, 2008: PP 82-84.
Zempleni, J., Rucker, R.B., McCormick, & D.B., Suttie, J.W. (Eds.). Handbook of Vitamins. 4th ed. New York: CRC Press, 2007: PP 268-270,278-280.
Online medical journal article consulted:
Rao, S.N. & Chandak, G.R. “Cardiac Beriberi: Often a Missed Diagnosis.” Journal of Tropical Pediatrics 24 Nov. 2009. Retrieved online 5-10-2010 from PubMed’s database website located at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.