Thiamine is one of the B vitamins; it is also known as vitamin B1. Like the other B vitamins, it is water-soluble, and partakes in many chemical reactions taking place in the body. Without the B vitamins, many metabolic processes and other processes would not take place and it would result in serious consequences. It is important to eat a variety of foods to get in all the vitamins, and when that isn’t manageable, taking a supplement is the next best thing.

Function of thiamine

Thiamine is responsible for helping the cells in the body convert carbohydrates into energy; additionally, it is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. Thiamine is important for the flow of electrolytes in and out of the nerve and muscle cells. Thiamine also plays a role in multiple enzyme processes throughout the body. It helps to produce hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for proper digestion. Thiamine is not easily stored in the body, so it is important to replenish it daily.

Dietary sources
There are many food sources of thiamine: beef, pork, brewer’s yeast, yeast, beans, lentils, seeds, wheat, milk, nuts, oats, oranges, rice, and whole grain cereals. In many countries, white rice and white flour are fortified with thiamine because the vitamin is often loss during the refinement process.

However rare, thiamine deficiency can occur, but it often occurs in those who abuse alcohol. Thiamine deficiency, called beriberi, involves complications with the nervous and brain system, muscle system, heart, and the gastrointestinal system. In severe thiamine deficiency, brain damage can occur; one type is called Korsakoff syndrome and the other is called Wernicke’s disease. Deficiency symptoms include weakness, fatigue, psychosis, and nerve damage.

There are not really any problems with toxicity of thiamine.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of thiamine is different for individuals, based on gender and age. The given amount is based on a daily intake.

  • Infants 0-6 months    0.2 mg
  • Infants 7-12 months    0.3 mg
  • Children 1-3 years    0.5 mg
  • Children 4-8 years    0.6 mg
  • Children 9-13 years    0.9 mg
  • Males 14-18 years    1.2 mg
  • Females 14-18 years    1.0 mg
  • Males 19 and older    1.2 mg
  • Females 19 and older    1.1 mg
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women    1.4 mg
  • As a dietary supplement for adults    1-2 mg daily

Supplementation with thiamine
An individual may need to take a thiamine supplement to correct nerve and heart problems that result when thiamine is deficient in the diet. If you have thiamine deficiency, you will probably be prescribed it by your doctor to take for about 1 month. It is usually taken three times a day with meals. Before taking this medication, tell your doctor of any medications or supplements you’re already taking, and any medical problems that you have.

Other reasons for taking thiamine

Reasons for an individual to supplement with thiamine may include: digestive problems (poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea); for boosting the immune system; to relieve diabetic pain; to correct vision problems; and to improve athletic performance. Some people also take thiamine to enhance learning abilities, increase energy, fight stress, and prevent memory loss. For many of these conditions, there is not enough evidence to determine if it is effective or not. Never take thiamine without first talking to your doctor, especially if it is for a purpose other than simply correcting a thiamine deficiency.

Side effects
So far, there aren’t any documented side effects from taking a thiamine supplement, or from getting too much of it in the diet. It is probably safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take, but this should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Last updated on Oct 11th, 2010 and filed under Vitamins and Minerals. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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