Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

Known as B1, this B group Vitamin is so important that, because it is removed during the milling of most grains, the law in Australia requires that it be added to bread-making flours to make up for its removal.

What it is

Thiamime gets is name, B1, simply because it was the first one isolated from the rest of the B group vitamins, it is none the less one of the key members of the B complex.

Thiamine is essential for converting carbohydrates in foods into energy. It also plays a role in maintaining healthy nerves and may be useful in treating certain types of heart disease. Thiamin is destroyed in cooking, and intake may be low if the diet is high in refined foods.

What it does

Thiamine enhances circulation and assists in blood formation, carbohydrate metabolism, and the production of hydrochloric acid (needed for proper digestion). Thiamine also optimises cognitive activity and brain function and is needed for proper muscle tone of the intestines, stomach and heart. Thiamine also acts an antioxidant protecting the body from the degenerative effects of aging, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Major functions include:

  • converts carbohydrate to glucose for energy production
  • promotes healthy nerves
  • promotes pumping power of the heart
  • prevents numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • soothes heartburn
  • can help with mood improvement

Deficiencies of Thiamine may cause symptoms of:

  • weightloss
  • irritability
  • beri-beri (indicating damage to the heart and nervous system
  • heart disease

Did you know?

It is thought that thiamin can be useful for motion sickness in air and sea travel, and that this vitamin also repels insects when excreted.

Dietary sources

  • Lean pork
  • Wholegrains
  • Dried beans
  • Nuts, escpecially Brazil
  • Seeds, especially Sunflower
  • Fortified cereals and flours

Latest findings

Older people are often mildly deficient in thianime. A recent US study foundthat taking 10mg a day for three months led to lowered blood ressure, weight loss, better quality sleep and increased energy leves in people over age 65. No such improvements were seen in those given a placeba in the study.

Another study showed that Thiamine supplements may improve mood. This study involved 100 young women (in their 20’s) who were not Thiamine deficient who took either 50mg of Thiamine a day, or a placebo, for two months. Tests showed that energy levels, alertness and moods were improved in the group who took Thiamine but not in those who took the placedo.

Advice on taking Thiamine

Because it is best absorbed in an acidic environment, take it with meals where stomach acid is produced to digest food. Divide the dose and take it twice a day, because high doses are readily flushed out of the system via urine.

Do not add baking soda if you are boiling green vegetables because the baking soda is alkaline and will destroy thiamin. Thiamin is not present in fats, oils, and refined sugars and is destroyed by heat, pasteurization, and ionizing radiation.