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Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamin or thiamine, was formerly known as aneurine, and is one of the group of B vitamins.
See also an overview of the main vitamins.

 

Active Form of Vitamin B1:

The active form of vitamin B1 (thiamine) is
thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), which is formed by the transfer of a pyrophosphate group from ATP to thiamine.


Functions of Vitamin B1:

The main functions of vitamin B1 are:

  • Brain development and function including healthy functioning of the nervous system, alertness, and emotions / mood.
  • Conversion of food into energy via normal metabolism - also promotes a healthy appetite and digestion
  • (General) energy boost and overall sense of well-being, which can even include reduced blood pressure in some cases.
  • Coenzyme for four enzymes (listed below - this information is useful to people who also need to understand the chemical reactions within the body, i.e. specific details about metabolism):
    1. pyruvate dehydrogenase
    2. α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase
    3. branched-chain amino acid α-ketoacid dehydrogenase
    4. transketolase

Reasons for vitamin B1 supplements include support for emotional balance, e.g. to help alleviate depression, low self-esteem and sometimes even sleeping problems and mental agility e.g. memory and cognition, especially in older people.

 

Sources of Vitamin B1:

There are many different types of foods that include some vitamin B1.
Examples of sources of vitamin B1 follow below:

  • Whole grains
  • Brown rice
  • Wholemeal pasta
  • Cereals
  • Yeast
  • Meat e.g. pork and liver
  • Nuts e.g. peanuts
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Pulses
  • Potatoes
  • and various vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower and kale.

Food processing and especially high temperatures can destroy vitamin B1. For example, toasting a slice of bread can destroy up to 33% (i.e. one third) of its vitamin B1 content. Vitamin B1 can also be destoyed by certain anti-nutrients such as alcohol, caffeine and even stress.



Problems due to insufficient or too much Vitamin B1:

Signs of Deficiencies of Vitamin B1

Signs of Excessive Intake of Vitamin B1

Dietary deficiency is rare because vitamin B1 is found in most foods. Moderate deficiency may induce anxiety, depression and irritability.
Extreme Deficiency can lead to:

  • Beriberi - a disease that involves nerve inflammation, muscular weakness and, in extreme cases, heart failure.
  • Wernicke's encephalopathy - which is associated with alcoholism
  • Korsakoff's psychosis - a neurological disorder whose symptoms include: anterograde amnesia,
    retrograde amnesia, confabulation (i.e. "invented memories"), inability to make much contribution to conversations, lack of insight, apathy and indifference to change.

Excessive doses (possibly by injection) may lead to very rare toxic symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Allergic reactions
  • Disturbance of heart beat
  • Nervousness

The above are not associated with ordinary dietary intake of thiamine.

See also what is a balanced diet? .

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