Vitamin B-1, also called thiamine, is a nutrient with a critical
role in maintaining a healthy central nervous system and controlling addictions. Adequate
thiamine levels can dramatically affect mental functions by helping maintain a sense
of well being and by enhancing learning abilities. Conversely, inadequate levels of
B1 can lead to eye weakness, mental confusion, and loss of physical coordination.
Vitamin B1 is required for the production of hydrochloric acid, for forming blood cells,
and for maintaining healthy circulation. It also plays a key role in converting
carbohydrates into energy, and in maintaining good muscle tone of the digestive system and
Like all the B-vitamins, B-1 is a water soluble nutrient that cannot be stored in the
body, but must be replenished on a daily basis. B-1 is also synergistic, meaning that it
is most effective when taken in a balanced complex of the other B vitamins.
A chronic deficiency of thiamin will lead to a beriberi, a devastating and potentially
deadly disease of the central nervous system. Due to improved diets and widespread use of
inexpensive supplements, beriberi is extremely rare in the developed nations, with one
important exception. Beriberi symptoms are frequently found in chronic alcoholics due to
the destructive effect alcohol has on B1. Thiamine levels can also be affected by
ingestion of antibiotics, sulfa drugs, caffeine, antacids, and oral contraceptives. A diet
high in carbohydrates can also increase ones need for B1.
Food sources high in thiamine include dried beans, eggs, brewers yeast, whole grains,
brown rice, and seafood. In supplemental form, B-1 is generally found in a combination
with vitamins B-2, B-3, B-6, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. There are no known toxic
effects from vitamin B-1, and any excess is simply excreted from the body. The Recommended
Daily Amount for B-1 is 1.5 milligrams, though more typical daily intake ranges from 50 to
500 milligrams per day.