The first Vitamin B to be discovered was Vitamin B1 and that is why it was named so. At the time of its discovery in 1912 by Cashmir Funk, it was called anti-beriberi factor. It is soluble in water but is not stored anywhere in the body, thus it has to be consumed through food on a daily basis. It is an important ingredient for our body metabolism. So let’s find out more about Vitamin B1.

What is the role of Vitamin B1 in our body?

Also known as thiamine, Vitamin B1 helps in maintaining the energy supplies of our bodies. Our body gets energy from the sugar molecules through the aerobic energy production process, which consumes oxygen for energy conversion. This process needs an adequate amount of Vitamin B1 to perform optimally.

Vitamin B1 is also an important component that helps in the development of myelin sheath, a fat-like covering around the nerves. In absence of Vitamin B1, this myelin sheath degenerates.

Vitamin B1 is also a part of a process that produces a neurotransmitter, the molecule acetylcholine, which transmits signals between muscles and nerves. Since the acetylcholines also help in maintaining the muscle tone of the heart, Vitamin B1 is an important component for the proper functioning of the heart.

From where can we get Vitamin B1?

There are various sources of Vitamin B1, both in food and medicines. But the easiest and healthiest way to consume is through the food that we eat daily. Tuna is a major source of Vitamin B1. Some of the other sources are; navy beans, sunflower seeds, black beans, dried beans, green peas, pinto beans, lentils, lima beans, sesame seeds etc. Fruits are also a good source of Vitamin B1 such as, pineapple, oranges, grape, tomatoes etc. A daily consumption of such varieties of food is required for a proper Vitamin B1 consumption.

How much is required on a daily basis?

A daily consumption is required for our body’s metabolism and the dosage of consumption differs age-wise and as per the condition of the person. The infants need a daily consumption of 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams and children should take 0.5 to 1 milligrams of Vitamin B1 every day. Adults need a daily intake of 1.1 to 1.2 milligrams per day and for the pregnant and breast feeding women; there should a daily consumption of 1.4 milligrams of Vitamin B1.

What are the diseases caused by the deficiency of Vitamin B1?

Lack of Vitamin B1 hampers a lot of the body functions resulting in some of the major diseases such as:

Beri beri: Due to the lack of Vitamin B1, there are swellings, tingling or burning sensation in the hands and feet. It also causes confusion, trouble while breathing and uncontrolled eye movements.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: These are two different disorders related to brain disorder due to deficiency of thiamine. Wernicke’s disease is a result of the damage caused to the nerves of the central and peripheral nervous systems. On the other hand, Korsakoff’s syndrome will have the person facing troubles with memory loss and nerve damage.

Deficiency of Vitamin B1 may also lead to some other disorders such as cataracts (decrease in vision), Alzheimer’s disease (memory loss) and heart failure.

How do you know your body lacks Vitamin B1?

You know your body lacks Vitamin B1 if you have these following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Numbness in the legs

  • Muscle tenderness, especially in the calf muscles

  • Indigestion or constipation

  • Pain and tingling sensation in the limbs
What are the causes of Vitamin B1 deficiency?

The main reason of thiamine deficiency is due to less intake of food with Vitamin B1 content. Apart from this, some of the other major causes are:

  • High alcohol consumption

  • Heavy consumption of coffee and tea

  • Excessive smoking

Some of the body conditions might also decline the Vitamin B1 content from the body, such as:

  • Chronic stress

  • Chronic diarrhoea

  • Chronic fever
How toxic is excess intake of Vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1 is not a toxic substance even when consumed in excess. It might make your stomach a little upset but other than that, even the excess consumption has a brighter side. It is fed as a supplement on high doses at the time of treatment of alcoholism and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).

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