This is the second article in the B complex vitamins series. As mentioned in our original post “The B-complex vitamins – Simplified” (March 2015), the members of the ‘Vitamin B Complex’ are actually varied in their actions in the body and their availability in foods.” Thiamin, formerly known as Vitamin B1, is one of the essential energy-producing vitamins.
In the annals of vitamin discoveries, thiamin was the first of the B family to be identified. Because of that it was called Vitamin B1. It is now “officially” called thiamin and falls into the B Complex vitamin category of “energy releasing.” The deficiency disease of this vitamin is called beriberi and is still seen in Asian countries. In the West the disease may present in alcoholics.
Thiamin is essential for carbohydrate metabolism, the process of breaking down food into fuel for the cells and especially for cells of the brain and heart. This B vitamin is also essential for the metabolism of the branched chain amino acids and for nerve tissues in the conduction of nerve impulses, muscles, digestion and for the normal functioning of the heart. Thiamin is one of the important vitamins needed for the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy. It also helps to support immune function during periods of stress and for this reason is sometimes called an anti-stress vitamin.
There are many outside factors that can work to decrease the level of thiamin in the system or affect its availability to the cells of the body. A few of these outside factors are: alcohol, tea, coffee, baking or frying of foods. In some cases a deficiency could be created. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is protective of thiamin.
It is the above possibilities and because thiamin is water soluble, and lost in urine and sweat, that I suggest people take at the low end 50 to 75 mg on a daily basis. Of course children should take less, like 20 to 50 mg; however, depending on age and stature and lifestyle, such as being involved in sports, the need would increase.
Also adjust HOW thiamin is taken: do not take with alcohol, tea or coffee so that optimal absorption may be achieved. Although this vitamin is added to some processed foods, such as flour, a more dependable source is either a B Complex formula in pill or capsule form or a multivitamin with meaningful amounts of this and all of the B Complex nutrients.