Back to Basics- All About Vitamin B1

What is vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin found in high concentrations in the heart, kidney, liver and brain. It is absorbed rapidly in the upper and lower small intestine but is not stored in the body in any great quantity.

Why do we need it?

The main function of thiamin is to help convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for nerve conduction in the body. Thiamin is essential for proper energy production in the brain.

How do we get it?

We can get a good amount of vitamin B1 from the following foods:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Wheat germ
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Nuts: Brazil nuts, pecans
  • Grains: Oats, millet, wheat, corn
  • Brown rice
  • Lentils

How do we know if we are deficient in it?

Common causes of thiamin deficiency include:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • High refined carbohydrate diets and excess blood sugar
  • Smoking
  • Malabsorption problems (chronic diarrhea)
  • Stress
  • Deficiency of thiamin makes it difficult for a person to digest carbohydrates.

Common signs of deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Anorexia
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Poor coordination or confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety

Source: The Nutritional Therapy Association, 2010