Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine). Improve Brain Function. Stronger Immune System

Updated: 12/29/23

Have you ever found yourself feeling foggy-brained or burnt out even after a full night’s sleep? You might be deficient in an essential B vitamin called thiamine, also known as vitamin B1. B1 plays a critical role in converting carbohydrates into energy and supporting nervous system function. It also helps keep your immune system running strong. A lack of B1 is surprisingly common these days, often caused by eating a diet low in whole grains, nuts and beans. In this post, we’ll discuss some signs you may be low in B1, the many benefits it provides beyond energy levels, and some easy ways to up your intake through foods and supplements. By the end, you’ll see why boosting your B1 status is a simple but impactful move for better brain and immune health. Let’s jump in and take a closer look at this underrated vitamin.

What is Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)?

Vitamin B1, or Thiamine, is one of the B-complex vitamins essential for the body’s proper functioning. It is often called an anti-stress vitamin because it plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Thiamine is required for converting carbohydrates into energy, which is then used by the body to fuel various functions. It also helps the body metabolize fats and proteins, which are essential in building and repairing tissues.

Thiamine works as a coenzyme that helps enzymes in the body break down and utilize carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acids. It also helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that provides energy to the cells. Thiamine is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, and a deficiency can lead to various nervous system disorders.

Thiamine was first discovered in 1910 by a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk. Funk was the first to isolate a water-soluble vitamin and named it “vitamin B1.” The word “thiamine” was coined later, derived from the Greek word “thio,” meaning sulfur, and “amine,” meaning nitrogen. Although thiamine is commonly found in many foods, it was first isolated from rice bran, which was commonly used in Asian cultures to treat beriberi, a disease caused by thiamine deficiency.

Vitamin B1: A Water-Soluble Vitamin

Vitamins come in two groups — water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water when they enter the body. B vitamins are all water-soluble, including vitamin B1. Although our liver stores some vitamin B1, it has a short storage life. People need a continuous, daily supply of vitamin B1 in order to maintain good health.

Vitamin B1 Benefits

May Boost the Immune System

Your immune system is important for your overall health and wellbeing. Vitamin B1 is essential in the production of T-cells in the body, which play a significant role in boosting your immune system. Thus, taking vitamin B1 regularly can help keep your immune system healthy.

Improves Digestion

It helps the body’s digestive system by aiding in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This acid is responsible for breaking down foods, especially proteins, so they can be easily digested. Thiamine can also help relieve constipation and other digestive problems.

Promotes Heart Health

It is also important for your heart health. It helps to regulate your heart rate and helps to improve blood circulation. By taking vitamin B1, you can help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Supports Brain Function

It promotes healthy brain function by improving cognitive abilities and enhancing memory. Thiamine is essential for the proper development and functioning of the nervous system. It also supports the production of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells.

May Improve Mental Health

It helps in the production of neurotransmitters which are essential for cognitive functions. People who have low levels of vitamin B1 may encounter difficulty in concentrating and have short term memory loss. Thus, regularly taking vitamin B1 can help improve one’s mental health.

May Fight Kidney Disease

It has a role to play in maintaining healthy kidney function. In fact, studies have shown that patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) tend to have lower levels in their blood. This is because CKD puts a lot of stress on the organs responsible for processing and eliminating waste products, including the kidneys and liver. Vitamin B1 supplementation can help reduce the risk of complications associated with CKD, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and nerve damage.

May Fight Cataracts

Cataracts are a common eye condition that occurs when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. This can lead to a decrease in vision and, in severe cases, blindness. Vitamin B1 can help prevent the development of cataracts by neutralizing free radicals that cause oxidative stress in the lens of the eye. Additionally, vitamin B1 has been shown to improve blood flow in the eye, which can help deliver essential nutrients to the lens and retina.

Supports Metabolic Disorders

It plays a crucial role in carbohydrate metabolism, which is essential for energy production in the body. Without enough Vitamin B1, carbs cannot be converted into energy and are instead stored in the body as fat. This can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Supplementation with Vitamin B1 can help improve glucose metabolism and reduce the risk of these conditions.

May Boost Energy Levels

If you’re feeling sluggish, one possible cause may be a vitamin B1 deficiency. This vitamin plays a key role in the production of energy in the body. By taking vitamin B1 supplements, you can help improve your energy levels and fight tiredness and fatigue.

Maintains a Healthy Metabolism

It supports the healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats that are found in your food. By taking vitamin B1 supplements, you can ensure that your body is processing these essential macronutrients efficiently.

Vitamin B1 Benefits

Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride & Benfotiamine

Thiamine hydrochloride (Thiamine HCL) is a synthetic version of thiamine. It absorbs water easily from its surroundings, making it hygroscopic.

Thiamine mononitrate is also a synthetic version of thiamine (Vitamin B1). Thiamine mononitrate is non-hygroscopic. It is used as an ingredient in multivitamins and also as a food additive.

Benfotiamine is another synthetic thiamine derived from vitamin B1. It’s a fat-soluble version of thiamine that raises the body’s levels of vitamin B1 longer than water-soluble thiamine. Benfotiamine is being studied for use in treatment for Alzheimer’s with hopes that it slows cognitive decline in patients. Benfotiamine is being marketed mostly as an antioxidant, benfotiamine can also treat nerve pain in diabetic patients.

Vitamin B1 Side Effects

Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to high doses. Symptoms can include itching, rashes, and swelling. If you are allergic to vitamin B1, it’s best to avoid taking supplements or eating foods high in thiamine.

Digestive Problems

High doses can cause digestive issues. These include indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, diarrhea has also been reported. To prevent digestive problems, it’s advisable to stick to the recommended daily intake of vitamin B1.

Drug Interactions

It can interact with certain medications, including diuretics and thyroid medication. If you are taking any medication, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking a vitamin B1 supplement.

Risk of Developing Cataracts

Studies show that high doses may increase the risk of developing cataracts. This is because vitamin B1 can break down into a substance called sorbitol, which can damage the lens of the eye. To reduce the risk of cataracts, it’s best to stick to the recommended daily intake.


In rare cases, high doses can lead to hypotension or low blood pressure. This can cause dizziness, fainting, and even shock in some cases. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Thiamine deficiency isn’t uncommon in low-income populations and in developing countries. In fact, a lack of vitamin B1 can simply be the result of a diet high in processed grains. In industrialized nations, though, the primary cause of a thiamine deficiency is alcoholism. Other conditions that may result in a thiamine deficiency include anorexia, bariatric (weight loss) surgery and malabsorption conditions.

Some people have a higher need for thiamine. For example, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or involved in strenuous physical activity may be marginally deficient in thiamine. Older adults may also lack thiamin, as well as adolescents that are in a growth spurt.

Thiamine deficiencies are also common in HIV-infected patients, alcoholics, malaria patients and those taking diuretics.

A moderate thiamin deficiency can show up in these symptoms:

A severe thiamine deficiency, however, can result in beriberi. This disease, which may affect many systems in the body, has a variety of forms.

Beriberi: Severe Thiamine Deficiency

Beriberi is the result of a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. It mimics symptoms that show up in the blood and urine, including low thiamine levels and high levels of lactic acid. Beriberi is receives treatment by giving patients thiamine supplements. These can be administer in orally or intravenously intervals. With proper treatment, the symptoms of the disease usually improve within a few weeks.

Beriberi is common in places with poor hygiene. It was a common illness in ancient Asian history and has become more common in western cultures with increased food processing.

Beriberi has been divided into different categories, depending on which bodily system is most affected:

Dry Beriberi

This variation of beriberi affects one or more peripheral nerves, causing numbness or weakness. One symptom of dry beriberi is a sensation of feet burning. Other symptoms include exaggerated reflexes, weakness in arms and legs, muscle pain and tenderness.

Wet Beriberi

Wet (or cardiac) beriberi symptoms include rapid heart rate, severe swelling, difficulty breathing and, in some cases, congestive heart failure. Symptoms may also include the neurological symptoms of dry beriberi as well.

Cerebral Beriberi

Cerebral beriberi can lead to diseases named Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. These are most common in people who abuse alcohol. There are numerous symptoms common in patients who have Wernicke’s encephalopathy. These include abnormal eye movements, cognitive impairments and inability to control body movements when standing or walking.

Korsakoff’s psychosis may manifest itself with symptoms such as confusion, apathy and profound memory impairment.

Gastrointestinal Beriberi

The absence of it can impair certain metabolizing enzymes in the body. These impairments can lead to a buildup of lactate and a condition called lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis symptoms include nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain. This condition is gastrointestinal beriberi.

Can Thiamine Deficiency Cause Anemia?

Inadequate thiamine levels can cause several health problems, including anemia. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough hemoglobin, the body cannot receive enough oxygen, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

Thiamine is crucial in producing hemoglobin, and a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to low levels of hemoglobin, causing anemia. Moreover, thiamine deficiency can also lead to higher levels of oxidative stress, which can damage red blood cells and decrease their lifespan, leading to premature aging and breakdown of the cells.

Preventing thiamine deficiency is essential for preventing anemia. A balanced diet rich in thiamine can usually provide adequate amounts of this nutrient, but certain underlying conditions can impair thiamine absorption. Alcoholism, digestive problems, and other chronic diseases can negatively impact thiamine absorption and cause deficiency. To prevent this, ensure that you consume enough thiamine- rich foods in your diet, or consider taking vitamin B1 supplements.

How Thiamine Deficiency Occurs in Alcoholics

Thiamine deficiency is a medical condition where the body doesn’t receive an adequate amount of thiamine, leading to multiple problems. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of thiamine in our body, resulting in a rapid depletion of its storage in the liver, which, if left unaddressed, can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, an incurable neurological disorder. In alcoholics, the deficiency is widespread, and the symptoms are often mistaken for withdrawal symptoms and other conditions that come with alcoholism.

Some of the symptoms of thiamine deficiency in alcoholics include confusion, memory loss, altered mental status, and numbness in the extremities. It is imperative to note that the initial stage of thiamine deficiency can often be mistaken for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, making diagnosis a challenge for health care providers. However, if left untreated, it can progress to more debilitating and permanent conditions like peripheral neuropathy, beriberi, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

Thiamine for Alcohol Withdrawal

If you’re going through alcohol withdrawal, thiamine can help to ease some of the most uncomfortable symptoms. One study found that patients who received thiamine had a shorter stay in the hospital and a lower risk of seizures compared to those who didn’t receive it. Thiamine can also relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

As we mentioned earlier, long-term alcohol abuse can lead to thiamine deficiency and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This condition can cause memory loss, confusion, and even permanent brain damage. By taking thiamine during withdrawal, you can prevent this damage from occurring or becoming worse.

Thiamine for Lactic Acidosis

Thiamine plays a crucial role in preventing lactic acidosis due to its impact on aerobic metabolism, which is the process our body uses to convert oxygen and glucose into energy. When our bodies lack thiamine, the aerobic metabolism process breaks down, leading to the buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream.

However, taking thiamine supplements can prevent this breakdown from happening. Thiamine works to stabilize functions in the body, ultimately preventing the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood. This, in turn, reduces the risk of muscle soreness, fatigue, and weakness.

Vitamin B1 Supplement & Dosage

Vitamin B1 is present in multivitamins and B complex vitamins, but also comes as its own supplement. It comes in children’s chewables, liquid drops, tablets, softgels and lozenges. In cases of severe deficiency, though, it may be given intravenously.

A daily dose of 50 to 100 mg is often as a supplement. Taking vitamin B1 appears safe in recommended doses. However, it is always important to speak with your health professional before including new supplements into your regimen.

Where to Buy Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)





The Bottom Line

In conclusion, it’s clear that vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, has an abundance of benefits for our overall health. From improving brain function and mental clarity to boosting our immune system, this vitamin is a crucial component for our well-being. Incorporating more sources of thiamine into our diets can have incredible effects on our body and mind. It’s time to start being more conscious about what we put in our bodies and consider the positive impact it can have.

Don’t wait any longer, take action now and start reaping the benefits of this amazing vitamin! With a strong immune system and improving cognitive function, you’ll be ready to conquer whatever challenges are your way. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious foods that are packing with Thiamine such as whole grains, nuts, and legumes. But if you want to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin, don’t hesitate to try out our high-quality thiamine supplements. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to live a healthier life and boost your brain power with just one simple addition to your daily routine. Let’s all make the conscious decision to prioritize our health by incorporating vitamin B1 into our lives today!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author: Ryan Quigley
Graduate of Longwood University in Virginia. Part-time sports journalist covering the Vegas Golden Knights.