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Vitamin B1 Fact Sheet

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Learn All About Vitamin B1; Also Known As Thiamine

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, was the first of all the B vitamins to be discovered. B1 is essential for cell function within the body. It is especially important for the healthy growth of a child’s body. Depletion of Vit B1 can occur very quickly (within 14 days) due to the fact that very little of this nutrient is actually stored in the body. As the B1 component is water soluble and is easily excreted by the body, it needs to be replaced daily. For this reason in Australia, it is mandatory that all white and wholemeal flours used to make breads are fortified with B1.

Function

Vitamin B1 helps the body to covert glucose to energy and is also essential for healthy heart function. Thiamine assists every cell in the human body to make ATP (adenosine phosphate), which is needed to carry energy compounds around the body. B1 also assists with muscle growth, muscle tone and nerve function. It is a key stabiliser in appetite maintenance and the body’s ability to metabolise carbohydrates. It is also though that B1, along with Vit A and other B vitamins, may help protect the eyes from developing cataracts.

Food Source

B1 is found naturally in foods such as whole grains, potatoes, nuts, seeds, bread, legumes, pork, liver and some species of fish (such as salmon or tuna). It is also added to most bread products that are available from your local grocery store.

RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)

The recommended daily intake of Vit B1 varies slightly between men and women. It is recommended that men consume at least 1.2mg of Vit B1 daily. For women, a slightly lesser daily dose of 1.1mg is thought to be sufficient. Pregnant or nursing women require a higher daily dose of at least 1.7mg per day. The RDI for infants under 1 year of age is 0.3mg. Children aged 1-4 years should consume at least 0.5mg each day. For children aged 4-18 years of age, the recommended daily intake of thiamine is 0.5-1.1mg.

Food Portion Guide

It is easy to ensure you are getting your daily fix of Vit B1 by including a few healthy nuts, grains or meat produce into a daily balanced diet. For example, just 200g of pork will provide approximately 1.2mg.

Possible Symptoms of Deficiency

It is very rare for Vit B1 deficiency to occur within healthy people in developed countries, however it may be seen occasionally in conjunction with other medical conditions such as alcoholism, anorexia and Crohn’s disease. In extreme cases Vit B1 deficiency can cause a disease known as Beriberi, which presents as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate or swollen legs. Wet beriberi can cause heart problems and sometimes heart failure. Dry beriberi can cause nerve and muscle damage which may lead to muscle paralysis.

Possible Side Effects Of Overdose

As the B1 component is water soluble, the body excretes any excess thiamine from the body in the urine. As such, a Vit B1 overdose through natural food sources is very unlikely. If taken in excess via supplements, high levels of Vit B1 may cause a slightly unsettled stomach, but it is extremely rare to overdose.

In summary, a healthy balanced diet including small portions of nuts, grains, pork, beef and fish is the best way to ensure the ideal daily dose is being achieved. While it is very rare for deficiency to occur in Western countries, excessive alcohol consumption or extremely poor diet may contribute to lesser than ideal levels of vitamin B1. It should also be noted that taking just one of the B vitamins alone for a long period of time may result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. As such it is usually recommended that supplements containing all the B vitamins are used.

Due to the potential for side effects and interactions with other medications, you should only take B1 supplements under the guidance of your local pharmacist or doctor. If you are concerned that you might have a deficiency, consult your Doctor immediately as it may also be an indication of other underlying health issues.

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