Health Benefits of Vitamin B1


Vitamin B1Health Benefits of Vitamin B1

Welcome to the second information session on the Health Benefits of Vitamins & Minerals.  Today we are moving onto Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine.  This was the first of the B family to be chemically identified and recognized for its unique metabolic functions.

As opposed to Vitamin A, which we looked at last week, this Vitamin is water soluble.  This means that it dissolves very rapidly in water.  Once absorbed through the upper and lower intestine, very small amounts can be stored in the liver, heart and kidneys.

However, your body metabolizes what it can and flushes out most of the excess through the urine. You do not store water soluble vitamins like you do fat soluble ones, so it is important to get them daily through diet or a supplement.

All the Vitamin B’s are required heavily for various metabolic processes throughout the body, so these are important to have on a daily basis.

What Affects Absorption?

Thiamin is destroyed by high heat and cooking, such as boiling, but less with dry heat, such as baking. 

It is also depleted by the consumption of sugar, coffee, black tea, nicotine and alcohol.

This vitamin may also be absorbed less by the elderly.

Note, that if you are taking Vitamin B in supplement form – the Vitamin B family are all optimally absorbed when taking them as a complex.  Taking them individually results in less than adequate absorption.


  • Brewers Yeast
  • Black Strap Molases
  • Brown Rice
  • Egg Yolk
  • Liver
  • Peanuts
  • Trout
  • Germ & Bran of Wheat
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Asparagus
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Fresh Green Peas
  • Beans
  • Brocoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower

Health Benefits

  • A key metabolic role in cellular production of energy and glucose metabolism
  • Helps convert carbohydrate to fat storage for energy
  • Maintains good muscle tone (the heart is also a muscle)!
  • Key to a healthy nervous system – reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Prevents the accumulation of atherosclerosis
  • May lower risk of development of cataracts
  • Anti-ageing
  • Aids in production of red blood cells
  • Improves memory
  • Aids in digestion

Thiamine is sometimes called an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may also strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions.


Thiamin needs increase with stress and body weight.  A good insurance level of Vitamin B1 is probably around 10mg daily.  However, those who also smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, are pregnant, lactating or taking birth control pills all need more.

The upper intake of thiamine should not be more than 200mg – 300mg


Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Wernicke disease involves damage to nerves in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is often caused by malnutrition due to alcoholism. Korsakoff syndrome is characterized by memory problems and nerve damage. High doses of thiamine can improve muscle coordination and confusion, but rarely improves the memory loss.


Preliminary evidence suggests that thiamine, along with other nutrients, may lower the risk of developing cataracts. People that consume adequate amounts of protein and vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3  in their diet are less likely to develop cataracts.


Low levels of thiamine are associated with depression. In one study of elderly Chinese adults, poor thiamine levels were associated with a higher risk of depression.

Dry Beriberi

This condition might involve nerve and muscle abnormalities, a prickling sensation in the toes, a burning sensation in the feet at night, leg cramps and muscle atrophy.

Wet Beriberi

Common symptoms might include abnormally fast heart beat, fluid retention in the legs, pulmonary edema and hypotension, which might result in shock and even death.

Heart failure

Thiamine helps with muscle tone and since the heart is a muscle, lack of Thiamine can affect the heart.

Alzheimer disease

Researchers have speculated that thiamine might help Alzheimer disease. Oral thiamine has been shown to improve cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer. However, absorption of thiamine is poor in elderly individuals. More research is needed before thiamine can be proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer disease however.


Since Vitamin B1 is water soluble, we do not store it like the fat soluble vitamins, however, as discussed above, do not take more than the upper daily limit of 200mg – 300mg.



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About Michelle

Michelle Firrisi is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist. She lived most of her life in the Island of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, UK.

She now lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Michelle also holds an Honours Degree in Bachelor of Science Podiatric Medicine and practices Reiki, Massage and Shamanism. Her main speciality is in the areas of Addiction, Anxiety, Depression and reversing Mood Disorders with targeted Amino Acid Therapy & Nutrition.

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Statements and opinions written on this website are based on experience and designed for educational purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Before changing your diet or with all medical conditions consult a qualified medical professional.