Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) is known as the "morale vitamin" because it is of primary importance in keeping the nervous system healthy and in maintaining a healthy mental attitude. It is essential in converting glucose into energy, as well as improving the muscle tone of the stomach, intestines, and heart. It is also essential in helping to control appetite. Because of its effects on the nervous system, it can also improve individual learning capacity, and is necessary for consistent growth in children.
The RDA for Thiamine is 1.5 mg (1). However, the need for thiamine increases as the daily calorie intake rises. A daily intake of 0.5 milligrams of thiamine for every 1000 calories eaten is recommended for all ages (2). The need for thiamine also increases with body weight and the amount of the vitamin synthesized in the intestinal tract. Because it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is not stored in the body, so there is no danger in taking large doses.
Thiamine is essential in the manufacture of hydrochloric acid, which aids digestion, and also combines with manganese and specific proteins to become active enzymes (3). Once you get into a deficiency state, it's kind of a vicious cycle: You need enzymes to break down your food so you can absorb the vitamins from the food, but without the vitamins, you can't make the enzymes to break down the food in the first place. This condition requires supplementation in order to break the cycle.
A deficiency of thiamine makes it difficult to digest carbohydrates, which leaves too much pyruvic acid in the blood. This causes loss of mental alertness, labored breathing, and cardiac damage (3). Symptoms of deficiency include muscular weakness, digestive disturbances, numb hands or feet, fatigue, irritability, nervousness, mental depression, shortness of breath, pains around heart, and beriberi (1). Deficiency can cause a decrease in coordination, body-reaction time, eye-hand coordination, motor speed and manual steadiness, as well as indigestion, severe constipation, anorexia and gastric atony. "Some researchers believe that the lack of thiamine may be the first link in a chain leading by way of the liver and female hormones to cancer of the uterus" (4).
Below is a list of ailments for which Vitamin B1 would be beneficial:
Congestive heart failure
Food and herb sources for Vitamin B1 Thiamine:
Brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, peanuts, peas, pork, poultry, rice bran, wheat germ, and whole grains, asparagus, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dulse, kelp, most nuts, oatmeal, plums, dried prunes, raisins, spirulina, watercress, alfalfa, bladderwrack, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, rosehips, sage, yarrow, and yellow dock (5).
Once again, all B-complex vitamins need to be taken together. So if you believe you are deficient in Thiamine, supplement the other B-complex vitamins appropriately. See The B-Complex Vitamins .
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Copyright 2015 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living
(1) Personal Health Lifestyles. (2000). "Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)." Healing With Nutrition.com Available Online: [http://www.healingwithnutrition.com/vitamin.html#VitaminB1].
(2) Thomas, Clayton L. ed. (1993). "Thiamine Hydrochloride." Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 17th edition. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis, p. 1982.
(3) Dunne, Lavon J. (1990). Nutrition Almanac. New York: McGraw-Hill, p. 21.
(4) Rodale, J. I. (1970). The Encyclopedia for Healthful Living. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, p. 117.
(5) Inner Self Publications. (2000). "Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)." Available Online: [http://www.innerself.com/Health/guides/VITAMIN_B1.htm].