As a water-soluble B vitamin, the body excretes what is not needed by the body in the urine although small amounts are stored in the liver, heart, and kidneys.
Vitamin B1 can be synthesized by bacteria in the gut but as a water-soluble it is necessary to get this nutrient daily via the diet and especially in times of stress. Anyone who smokes, drinks alcohol consumes coffee or is pregnant needs more thiamine to maintain optimal health.
Beriberi is the disease caused by thiamine deficiency with 3 primary expressions of beriberi: childhood beriberi, wet beriberi, and dry beriberi.
• Childhood beriberi is associated with stunted growth
• Wet beriberi is associated with swelling (edema) in the feet and legs and decreased function of the heart.
• Dry beriberi is associated with weight loss, muscle wasting, and nerve degeneration.
Some other symptoms of vitamin b1 deficiency include:
• Muscle weakness
• Slowed heart rate
• Loss of memory
• Abdominal pain
• Prickling sensation in the legs
• Atrophied muscles
Vitamin B1 deficiency also impacts the functioning of the nerves, brain, and central nervous system and may be helpful in problems that affect the nerves such as multiple sclerosis and neuritis and inflammation of the nerves.
Vitamin B1 plays a role in the synthesis of acetylcholine which is an important neurotransmitter that carries messages between the nerves and muscles.
Vitamin B1 also plays an important role in the development of the myelin sheath and the fatty substance that covers and protects the nerves. If the myelin sheath does not form properly or starts to degenerate due to vitamin B1 deficiency the nerves can become sensitive to inflammation.
As thiamin is involved in energy metabolism and the production of ATP (the bodies usable form of energy) fatigue and tiredness can be a symptom of B1 deficiency.
A diet full of empty calories such as refined sugar, pop, sweets, and processed junk food can lead to vitamin B1 deficiency and any of the symptoms associated with B1 deficiencies.
The best way to improve nutritional levels of vitamin B1 is to eat foods high in B1, remove the empty calorie foods and supplement with vitamin B1 if needed.
Some of the foods highest in B1 Include:
The following foods are good dietary sources of B1 as well
Navy beans, kidney beans, mung beans, peanuts, lima beans
Tuna and yellowfin fish
Eating a nutritious and varied diet full of foods high in Bl is crucial to ensure adequate intake of Bl through the diet.
While the requirements of B1 vary a minimum intake of thiamine for healthy individuals is 2 mg per day but aiming for 10 mg per day is a good insurance level. Higher levels of vitamin B1 and additional supplementation may be useful for individual situations.