Thiamine (vitamin B1) is a vital nutrient necessary for overall health and well-being. It plays a key role in energy metabolism, supports the functioning of the nervous system, heart, and muscles, and is involved in the production of neurotransmitters and DNA.

Thiamine deficiency can lead to serious health problems.

By ensuring adequate thiamine intake through a balanced diet or supplementation, individuals can support their overall health and well-being.



What does thiamine [vitamin b1] do for your body?
Are thiamine and thiamine [vitamin b1] mononitrate the same thing?
What is thiamine mononitrate?
Thiamine [vitamin b1] and alcohol
What are the symptoms of low vitamin b1 [thiamine]?
Who is most at risk for thiamine [vitamin b1] deficiency?
What are the symptoms of too much b1 [thiamine]?
Richest source of vitamin b1 [thiamine]?
Taking vitamin b1 [thiamine]
Who should avoid vitamin b1?

8 minute read

What does thiamine do for your body?

Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, plays crucial roles in supporting various bodily processes. Here are the key functions of thiamine in the body:

Energy metabolism:

Thiamine is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy, fueling the body’s daily activities.

Nervous system function:

Thiamine is vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system, supporting proper nerve transmission and signaling.

Heart health:

Thiamine contributes to the normal functioning of the heart and helps maintain its optimal performance.

Muscle function:

Thiamine plays a role in muscle contraction and supports the overall health and strength of muscles.

Neurotransmitter synthesis:

Thiamine is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which are crucial for proper brain function and mood regulation.

DNA and RNA synthesis:

Thiamine is necessary for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, essential for cellular processes and proper growth.

Antioxidant activity:

Thiamine acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Does thiamine help the liver?

Thiamine, or vitamin b1, supports liver health by aiding in alcohol-related liver damage recovery, assisting in the liver’s detoxification processes, contributing to energy metabolism, and providing antioxidant protection. Thiamine supplementation can help replenish depleted levels in individuals with alcohol-related liver damage.

Are thiamine and thiamine mononitrate the same thing?

Thiamine and thiamine mononitrate are related but not exactly the same thing. Thiamine mononitrate, is a synthetic form of thiamine commonly used in dietary supplements and food fortification.

What is thiamine mononitrate?

Thiamine mononitrate is a stable and bioavailable form of thiamine that can be easily absorbed by the body. It is converted into thiamine once inside the body, allowing it to fulfill the same functions as natural thiamine.

While thiamine and thiamine mononitrate serve the same purpose in supporting thiamine levels in the body, they differ in their chemical composition.

Thiamine is the naturally occurring form found in foods, while thiamine mononitrate is a manufactured derivative used in supplementation and food processing.

What about thiamine and alcohol?

The relationship between thiamine and alcohol is complex and significant.

Alcohol affects the absorption, storage, and utilization of thiamine in the body. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to thiamine deficiency, as alcohol interferes with thiamine absorption in the digestive system and increases its excretion by the kidneys [this is why thiamine supplementation is given to alcoholics] .

Thiamine deficiency, in turn, can cause serious neurological disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and contribute to alcohol-related brain damage.

Recognizing and addressing thiamine deficiency in individuals with alcohol use disorder is crucial for preventing and managing these debilitating conditions.

What are the symptoms of low vitamin B1[thiamine]?

Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is essential for the proper functioning of various bodily processes. When thiamine levels are low, the body is unable to perform these functions optimally, leading to the manifestation of specific symptoms. Thiamine deficiency is also known as beriberi.

Here’s an explanation of why these symptoms occur with low thiamine:

Fatigue and weakness:

Thiamine is involved in energy production from carbohydrates. Inadequate thiamine impairs the body’s ability to convert food into energy, resulting in fatigue and weakness.

Loss of appetite and weight loss:

Thiamine deficiency can affect the digestive system, leading to a decrease in appetite and subsequent weight loss.

Irritability and mood changes:

Thiamine is necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior. Insufficient thiamine levels can disrupt the balance of these neurotransmitters, contributing to irritability and mood changes.

Numbness or tingling in the extremities:

Thiamine is crucial for maintaining the health of the nervous system. Low thiamine levels can damage the nerves, leading to abnormal sensations like numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Muscle weakness and pain:

Thiamine plays a role in muscle function and contraction. When thiamine levels are low, the muscles may not receive adequate signals, resulting in weakness and pain.

Confusion and memory problems:

Thiamine deficiency can affect the brain’s functioning, particularly regions involved in memory and cognitive processes. This can lead to confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.

Digestive problems:

Thiamine deficiency can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to issues such as constipation or nausea.

Cardiac abnormalities:

Thiamine is necessary for maintaining a healthy heart. In severe cases of thiamine deficiency, the heart may be affected, resulting in rapid heartbeat or enlargement of the heart.

These symptoms arise due to the vital roles that thiamine plays in energy production, nerve function, brain health, and muscle activity. Adequate thiamine levels are crucial for maintaining the proper functioning of these systems, and a deficiency can disrupt their normal operations, giving rise to various symptoms.

Who is most at risk for thiamine deficiency [beriberi]?

Several groups of people are considered to be at higher risk for thiamine deficiency. These include:

  • Alcoholics: Chronic alcohol consumption and malnutrition increase the risk.
  • Malnourished Individuals: Inadequate diets lacking thiamine pose a risk.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or chronic diarrhea affect thiamine absorption and increase excretion.
  • Bariatric Surgery Patients: Reduced absorption after weight loss surgery.
  • Older Adults: Age-related decline in thiamine absorption and dietary challenges.
  • Dialysis Patients: Thiamine loss during dialysis and kidney disease-related issues.
  • Pregnant Women: During pregnancy, thiamine deficiency can occur due to increased nutrient needs, nausea and vomiting, dietary imbalances, multiple pregnancies, and preexisting nutrient deficiencies, potentially impacting both the mother and fetus.

While these groups are more susceptible, anyone with an imbalanced diet or underlying conditions affecting thiamine metabolism can be at risk.

What are the symptoms of too much b1?

Excessive intake of thiamine (vitamin b1) through high-dose supplementation can potentially lead to symptoms such as allergic reactions, gastrointestinal disturbances, and low blood pressure.

However, these symptoms are rare and unlikely to occur from thiamine obtained through natural food sources.

Richest source of vitamin b1 [thiamine]

One of the richest natural sources of vitamin B1 (thiamine) is pork. Pork, particularly lean cuts like pork tenderloin, is known to contain high levels of thiamine.

Other animal sources such as beef, liver, and fish (such as trout and tuna) are also good sources of thiamine.

There are several plant-based sources of thiamine that can be incorporated into the diet as well.

  • Legumes: Lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are excellent sources of thiamine.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole wheat products (bread, pasta) contain thiamine.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and macadamia nuts provide thiamine.
  • Fortified Foods: Some cereals, bread, and other processed foods are often fortified with thiamine to enhance their nutritional content. When choosing fortified foods, it’s important to read the product labels and check the ingredient list to verify if thiamine has been added. The specific thiamine content can vary between different brands and products, so comparing labels can help identify the ones with higher thiamine levels.

While pork and other animal sources may have higher concentrations of thiamine, it is important to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of food sources to ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients.

Taking vitamin b1 [thiamine]

Is it good to take thiamine everyday?

Taking thiamine (vitamin b 1) every day is generally safe and beneficial for overall health.

Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin that the body does not store in large amounts, so regular intake is necessary. It is important to follow recommended daily intake guidelines and obtain thiamine through a balanced diet.

Daily recommended intake of thiamine (vitamin b1)

Daily intake of thiamine depends on factors such as age, sex, and life stage. Here are the general recommended daily intake levels of thiamine for adults:

Adult males (19 years and older): 1.2 milligrams (mg)
Adult females (19 years and older): 1.1 mg

Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those with other medical conditions may have higher thiamine needs.

It’s worth mentioning that thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin, and the body does not store large amounts of it. So it is necessary to obtain thiamine regularly through a balanced diet that includes foods rich in this vitamin.


What destroys vitamin B1 or destroys efficacy?

Thiamine (vitamin b1) can be destroyed or lose efficacy due to factors such as heat, light (especially UV light), oxidation, alkaline conditions, sulfites, and processing methods.

To preserve thiamine, it is important to handle and store foods properly, minimize heat exposure during cooking, and choose fresh, minimally processed options.

Here are some way in which you can minimize heat exposure during cooking:

  • Choose gentle cooking methods like steaming, simmering, or stir-frying.
  • Cut ingredients into smaller pieces to reduce cooking time.
  • Cook at lower temperatures and avoid prolonged high-heat cooking.
  • Use minimal water when boiling or simmering.
  • Preserve cooking liquids and use them in recipes.
  • Add thiamine-rich ingredients towards the end of cooking.
  • Avoid excessive reheating of cooked foods.

Who should avoid vitamin b1?

Thiamine (vitamin b1) is generally safe, but caution is advised in certain situations.

These include allergies to thiamine, a history of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, genetic disorders affecting thiamine processing, and certain medical conditions or treatments that can impact thiamine absorption or metabolism. It is important to seek medical guidance for personalized advice in these cases.



In conclusion, thiamine (vitamin B1) is a vital nutrient that plays numerous roles in supporting overall health and well-being. It is involved in energy metabolism, supports the functioning of the nervous system, heart, and muscles, and contributes to neurotransmitter production and DNA synthesis.

Thiamine deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including neurological disorders and impaired heart function. Therefore, it is important to ensure adequate thiamine intake through a balanced diet or supplementation.

Individuals at higher risk of thiamine deficiency include alcoholics, malnourished individuals, those with gastrointestinal disorders, bariatric surgery patients, older adults, dialysis patients, and pregnant women. However, caution should be exercised in specific cases, and it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.