Also known as thiamine, Vitamin B1 helps in maintaining the energy supplies of our bodies. Our body gets energy from the sugar molecules through the aerobic energy production process, which consumes oxygen for energy conversion. This process needs an adequate amount of Vitamin B1 to perform optimally.
Vitamin B1 is also an important component that helps in the development of myelin sheath, a fat-like covering around the nerves. In absence of Vitamin B1, this myelin sheath degenerates.
Vitamin B1 is also a part of a process that produces a neurotransmitter, the molecule acetylcholine, which transmits signals between muscles and nerves. Since the acetylcholines also help in maintaining the muscle tone of the heart, Vitamin B1 is an important component for the proper functioning of the heart.
There are various sources of Vitamin B1, both in food and medicines. But the easiest and healthiest way to consume is through the food that we eat daily. Tuna is a major source of Vitamin B1. Some of the other sources are; navy beans, sunflower seeds, black beans, dried beans, green peas, pinto beans, lentils, lima beans, sesame seeds etc. Fruits are also a good source of Vitamin B1 such as, pineapple, oranges, grape, tomatoes etc. A daily consumption of such varieties of food is required for a proper Vitamin B1 consumption.
A daily consumption is required for our body’s metabolism and the dosage of consumption differs age-wise and as per the condition of the person. The infants need a daily consumption of 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams and children should take 0.5 to 1 milligrams of Vitamin B1 every day. Adults need a daily intake of 1.1 to 1.2 milligrams per day and for the pregnant and breast feeding women; there should a daily consumption of 1.4 milligrams of Vitamin B1.
Lack of Vitamin B1 hampers a lot of the body functions resulting in some of the major diseases such as:
Beri beri: Due to the lack of Vitamin B1, there are swellings, tingling or burning sensation in the hands and feet. It also causes confusion, trouble while breathing and uncontrolled eye movements.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: These are two different disorders related to brain disorder due to deficiency of thiamine. Wernicke’s disease is a result of the damage caused to the nerves of the central and peripheral nervous systems. On the other hand, Korsakoff’s syndrome will have the person facing troubles with memory loss and nerve damage.
Deficiency of Vitamin B1 may also lead to some other disorders such as cataracts (decrease in vision), Alzheimer’s disease (memory loss) and heart failure.
You know your body lacks Vitamin B1 if you have these following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness in the legs
- Muscle tenderness, especially in the calf muscles
- Indigestion or constipation
- Pain and tingling sensation in the limbs
The main reason of thiamine deficiency is due to less intake of food with Vitamin B1 content. Apart from this, some of the other major causes are:
- High alcohol consumption
- Heavy consumption of coffee and tea
- Excessive smoking
Some of the body conditions might also decline the Vitamin B1 content from the body, such as:
- Chronic stress
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Chronic fever
Vitamin B1 is not a toxic substance even when consumed in excess. It might make your stomach a little upset but other than that, even the excess consumption has a brighter side. It is fed as a supplement on high doses at the time of treatment of alcoholism and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).