Thiamin, which is also known as vitamin B1, was the first B vitamin to be discovered. It is involved in energy production and carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism. It is vital for normal development, growth, reproduction, healthy skin and hair, blood production and immune function. Thiamin is also necessary for the metabolism of alcohol. Outright deficiencies are rare in developed countries.
Thiamin is particularly important for the normal functioning of nerves. It is necessary for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which affects several brain functions including memory, and also maintains muscle tone of the stomach, intestines and heart. Digestive diseases such as colitis, diverticulosis, celiac disease and chronic diarrhea reduce thiamin absorption as do protein and folate deficiencies. Some thiamin is stored in the heart, liver and kidneys but these stores do not last long and a continuous intake is necessary to prevent deficiency.
Good natural sources of thiamin include brewer's yeast, organ meats, wheat germ, oatmeal, whole grains, pork, fish, poultry, nuts, dried beans and peas, avocado, vegetables such as spinach and cauliflower, and thiamin-enriched flours and cereals.
Thiamin is found in the germ and bran of wheat and in the outer covering of rice grains, so refining grains removes much of the thiamin. The vitamin is easily destroyed by cooking heat and is lost in the water used to cook food. It is also destroyed when food becomes alkaline, thus adding bicarbonate of soda to thiamin-rich foods causes losses. Sulfite food additives also destroy thiamin.
Toxicity is very rare as excess thiamin is excreted in the urine. Long-term excessive use can produce symptoms of hyperthyroidism: headache, irritability, trembling, rapid pulse and insomnia. With injected thiamin, reactions of itching, weakness, gastrointestinal bleeding, low blood pressure, pain, sweating, nausea, tingling and faintness can sometimes occur. The lowest daily dose known to cause side effects is 5mg, but many people can tolerate much larger doses.
Thiamin supplements are used to prevent and correct the heart and nerve problems caused by thiamin deficiency. Thiamin also has a mild diuretic effect and may be beneficial to heart function. Restoring normal thiamin levels in diabetics who are deficient leads to improvements in blood sugar metabolism.
Thiamin supplements have been shown to improve mood and mental function, possibly via effects on the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Thiamin supplements also appear to improve mental function in epileptics treated with the anticonvulsant drug, phenytoin.
Thiamin supplements have been used to treat other problems that affect the nerves, including multiple sclerosis, Bell's palsy, neuritis and diabetic neuropathy. As with the other B vitamins, thiamin is used to relieve stress and muscle tension and to speed healing after surgery. Some people use thiamin supplements in doses of up to 100mg to help repel mosquitoes and other biting insects, and it may take several weeks of supplement use before beneficial effects appear.
Magnesium is necessary for the conversion of thiamin to its active form. Vitamin C helps improve thiamin absorption.
Acetylcholine: A neurotransmitter widely distributed in body tissues with a primary function of mediating synaptic activity of the nervous system and skeletal muscles.
Alkaline: A solution having a pH greater than seven.
Bell's Palsy: One-sided facial paralysis of sudden onset and unknown cause. The mechanism is presumed to involve swelling of the nerve due to immune or viral disease, with ischemia and compression of the facial nerve in the narrow confines of its course through the temporal bone.
Carbohydrates: The sugars and starches in food. Sugars are called simple carbohydrates and found in such foods as fruit and table sugar. Complex carbohydrates are composed of large numbers of sugar molecules joined together, and are found in grains, legumes, and vegetables like potatoes, squash, and corn.
Celiac Disease: (Gluten sensitivity) A digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten. Common symptoms include diarrhea, increased appetite, bloating, weight loss, irritability and fatigue. Gluten is found in wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, barley and sometimes oats.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Colitis: Inflammation of the colon.
Diabetes Mellitus: A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
Diarrhea: Excessive discharge of contents of bowel.
Diuretic: An agent increasing urine flow, causing the kidneys to excrete more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium and water.
Diverticular Disease: Some people develop small pouches (diverticula) that bulge outward through weak spots in the colon. Diverticulosis is the condition of having these pouches; diverticulitis is an inflammation or infection in these pouches. The conditions diverticulosis and diverticulitis are both referred to as diverticular disease. Diverticulosis may not cause any symptoms but could include mild cramps, bloating and constipation - all of which are common to other conditions such as IBS or ulcers. The most common symptoms of diverticulitis are abdominal pain and tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen. When infection is the cause, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping and constipation may also occur.
Fatty Acids: Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.
Gastrointestinal: Pertaining to the stomach, small and large intestines, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.
Hyperthyroidism: An abnormal condition of the thyroid gland resulting in excessive secretion of thyroid hormones characterized by an increased metabolism and weight loss.
Magnesium: An essential mineral. The chief function of magnesium is to activate certain enzymes, especially those related to carbohydrate metabolism. Another role is to maintain the electrical potential across nerve and muscle membranes. It is essential for proper heartbeat and nerve transmission. Magnesium controls many cellular functions. It is involved in protein formation, DNA production and function and in the storage and release of energy in ATP. Magnesium is closely related to calcium and phosphorus in body function. The average adult body contains approximately one ounce of magnesium. It is the fifth mineral in abundance within the body--behind calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Although about 70 percent of the body's magnesium is contained in the teeth and bones, its most important functions are carried out by the remainder which is present in the cells of the soft tissues and in the fluid surrounding those cells.
Metabolism: The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.
Milligram: (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.
Multiple Sclerosis: Demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system, causing patches of sclerosis (plaques) in the brain and spinal cord, manifested by loss of normal neurological functions, e.g., muscle weakness, loss of vision, and mood alterations.
Nausea: Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.
Neuritis: Nerve inflammation, commonly accompanying other conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis or arthritis. Neuritis is usually accompanied by neuralgia (nerve pain).
Neuropathy: A group of symptoms caused by abnormalities in motor or sensory nerves. Symptoms include tingling or numbness in hands or feet followed by gradual, progressive muscular weakness.
Neurotransmitters: Chemicals in the brain that aid in the transmission of nerve impulses. Various Neurotransmitters are responsible for different functions including controlling mood and muscle movement and inhibiting or causing the sensation of pain.
Protein: Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.
Stomach: A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach�s mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.
Thiamine: (Vitamin B-1): A B-complex vitamin that acts as a coenzyme necessary for the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, which is burned in the body for energy. It is essential for the functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.
Yeast: A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.