Vitamin B1: Functions And Benefits
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. It is a water soluble vitamin belonging to the group of B complex. Widely known as “morale vitamin”, this essential nutrient is necessary for the growth and development of nervous system. Additionally, studies have highlighted its importance in promoting cardiac health.
Vitamin B1 provides source of energy to body by enhancing utilization of carbohydrates. It plays an important role in glucose metabolism. Overall, it promotes the health of muscles, heart and nervous system.
Being a potential vitamin involved in supplying energy, it helps in the conversion of carbohydrates, fats, and protein into glucose.
It regulates the health of several systems such as the heart, stomach, nervous system, brain and intestines.
Maintains to and fro flow of electrolytes within the muscles and nerves cells.
Maintains the health of skin, hair, and eyes.
Improves the brain function and cognitive abilities.
Helps in stress management as Vitamin B1 boosts immune response during time of stress.
There are a wide variety of processed and whole foods that serve as a rich source of thiamine. Legumes, pork, fruits, grains and yeast are important sources of thiamine.
Recommended daily allowance (RDA)
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adult male is 1.2 mg and 1.1 mg for females. The requirement for pregnant or breastfeeding women is 1.4 mg per day.
Thiamine deficiency is mainly observed among individuals who follow an unhealthy lifestyle, have cancer, or undergo bariatric surgery, and haemodialysis. The deficiency usually occurs when there is improper intake of thiamine through dietary sources or higher excretion of thiamine from the body.
The symptoms of thiamine deficiency includes dizziness, insomnia, heart problems, weight loss, confusion, anorexia, agitation, weakness, nausea, vomiting and constipation, short term memory loss, peripheral neuropathy, muscular atrophy, myalgia, depression, backache etc.
Prolonged lack of vitamin B1 results in severe abnormalities associated with nervous system. It can further result in Beriberi.
Vitamin B1 deficiency results in 3 different types of Beriberi including:
a. Wet Beriberi:
This type of Beriberi affects the cardiovascular system resulting in weakening of the capillaries, increased heart rate and increased blood flow.
b. Gastrointestinal Beriberi:
This type of Beriberi affects the abdomen and shows symptoms like pain, cramps, vomiting, nausea etc.
c. Infantile Beriberi:
This type of Beriberi affects children, aged two to six months. The characteristics includes
edema, vomiting, weight loss, pale skin, hoarseness, diarrhoea, etc. Timely treatment is necessary so that it does not progress and becomes fatal for the infants.
Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin that has several beneficial effects. It promotes health of the nervous system and cardiovascular system. It acts as an anti- stress vitamin promoting the health of the stomach, memory, eyes, kidney etc. Deficiency of thiamine can result in severe disorders such as beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Leigh’s disease etc. It is important to maintain adequate dietary intake of thiamine to regulate body’s metabolism.