In this article you will know each and everything about Vitamin B1 also known as Thiamine. B-complex group of vitamins basically performs one simple function, they convert food into energy, or, in technical words, they convert carbohydrates to glucose.

Hence, they become one of the pivotal instruments for keeping our body up and running.

Remember, all the vitamins of B-group are water soluble so they can’t be stored in our bodies. We have to take them regularly every day. And, we already know that the best way to get any nutrition is the natural way, i.e. taking them through a natural diet.

This article contains:

Introduction to Vitamin B1 Thiamine

3D Rendition of Thiamine
3D Rendition of Thiamine – Courtesy Wikipedia

Vitamin B1 is also called Thiamine. This, along with Biotin – Vitamin B7 – is one of the only two sulfur-containing vitamins of the B-complex group. And this is the property that mainly defines its characteristics.

Thiamine is often sometimes an anti-stress vitamin because it strengthens the immune system by improving your body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. Apart from this, vitamin B1 plays a huge subordinate role to the other B-group vitamins and gives you energy.

[fact text=”Did you know: It is named B1 because it was the first B vitamin discovered.” type=”gen”]

This vitamin also helps in the development of immune and nervous systems. It is also helpful for the brain in functioning properly. A lot of cardiac complications also take place due to its deficiency.

Thiamine is so essential for the human body that it is mandatory in Australia that all bread are fortified with thiamine. That enrichment is added through whole grain flour.

Availability of Vitamin B1 – Foods with Thiamine

We need about 1.4 mg of thiamine every day. Thankfully, it is found in most of our daily routine food items. Here’s a list of foods with vitamin B1:

  • Red meat: especially pork. It contains 1.12 mg per 100 grams.
  • Fish: especially trout. It contains about 0.43 mg per 100 grams.
  • Seeds: especially sunflower. They contain 1.48 mg per 100 grams. (That’s all you need).
  • Nuts: especially macadamia. They contain 0.71 mg per 100 grams.
  • Green vegetables: especially peas. They contain 0.28 mg per 100 grams.
  • Whole grain bread: It contains 0.47 per 100 mg.

Red meats, fish, poultry, yeast, green vegetables and whole grain foods are considered ideal foods for thiamine deficiency.

Since these foods are usually a part of our diet, thiamine deficiency is rare, but it can take place. Here’s how it happens and how you can avoid it.

Vitamin B1 Deficiency and How You Can Avoid It

This deficiency is more common in the areas where people rely on white rice as the primary part of their daily diet.

But, this deficiency also takes place in where people eat bread and meat. Excessive alcohol damages our liver and that makes our bodies inefficient in absorbing thiamine. On the other hand, its excretion gets increased through kidneys.

Prolonged lack of vitamin B1 may cause severe problems like ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ beriberi, which affects the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and nervous systems as well as nerve degeneration and tingling and deep pain in the calf muscles.

According to National Health Service UK, ‘Wet’ beriberi relates to the cardiovascular system that includes enlargement of the heart, severe oedema (swelling) and even heart failure.


Another Thiamine deficiency problem is called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, or in everyday term ‘wet brain’. It is a disease linked to intake of excessive alcohol and a thiamin-deficient diet. Involuntary movements of the eyeball, eye muscles paralysis, mental confusion etc., are its symptoms.

Other problems include cataracts, increased chances of kidney disease in people with diabetes and painful menstruation (dysmenorrheal).

[fact text=”Thiamine reduces the albumin in the urine in the people with type 2 diabetes. Remember albumin in the urine is considered an indication of kidney damage.

Some early research had suggested that taking thiamine for 3 months stops pain associated with menstruation in young teenage girls.” type=”book”]

Symptoms of Thiamine Deficiency

According to a study by University of Maryland, thiamine deficiency’s initial symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Abdominal Discomfort
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle Weakness

Now you know the foods that give us thiamine, you also know the common causes of its deficiency, but there are some situations where it can interact with something else and gets destroyed. Let’s check out what those scenarios can be.

How Body Thiamine Can Get Destroyed

There are some medicines; the vitamin B1 can react with. Some of them have a chemical that destroys Thiamine in the stomach. Some change it chemically and thus stop its working.

Equisetum or in other words horsetail also called snake grass and puzzlegrass that is used in several medicines has a chemical effect of making Thiamine ineffective.

The Canadian government has a law that requires the certification for every Equisetum-containing product to be free of that chemical that has such effect.

Chewing of Areca nuts (also called “Supari” in South Asia) regularly in the long term may cause vitamin B1 deficiency.

Packets of supari are as cheap as 100 per $1 in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Interaction with Tea and Coffee

Tannins are the chemicals in tea and coffee that can react with vitamin B1. They can convert it to such a form that’s not easy for the body to take in. That’s why it could lead to thiamine deficiency. A research shows that this deficiency was found in some people in rural Thailand. They had been drinking a large amount of tea (almost 1 liter per day) or chewing fermented tea leaves for a long term.

But, this kind of effect is almost never found in western developed countries. Researchers say that this interaction becomes unimportant when your diet is high in thiamine or vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents of such interaction.

Interaction with Seafood

Raw freshwater fish and shellfish are the seafood that contains such chemicals that can destroy thiamine. Intake of a large amount of raw fish or shellfish can cause to vitamin B1 deficiency. But interestingly, the cooked fish and seafood are fine.

Side Effects of Excessive Vitamin B1

One thing is absolutely clear, there are no side effects when you take thiamine naturally i.e. through food. In dietary supplements, there can be some reactions due to an allergy or some other reason.

However, Vitamin B1 is considered one of the safest vitamins to be taken through supplements as even its injections (intravenous) are FDA approved and you get them with the advice of a medical practitioner.

On a high dose of thiamine, there can be nausea, tight feeling in our throat, sweating, feeling warm, mild rash or itching, feeling restless or tenderness or a lump where thiamine injection was given.

In rare cases there is also an emergency can happen in the shape of blue colored lips, chest pain or a feeling short of breath, black, bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

These signs are extremely rare, but if they do take place, consult a doctor immediately.


Vitamin B1 – Thiamine – is one of the safest vitamins to be taken as a supplement, but it is always a good idea to rely on a natural source (food) instead of a medical alternative.

Thiamine is a very essential vitamin, but thankfully it is found in abundance in common foods so you don’t have to worry about its deficiency much. Just don’t drink too much alcohol and keep eating a diet full of variety.

This vitamin is not destroyed much in cooking at normal heat. High heat does burn it. So, it’s a good idea if you cook your food using slow cookers.

That’s it for today. We wish you a very good day and hope you never face a deficiency of vitamin or happiness. 🙂

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