Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Thiamin

8.1 ThiaminEdit

Thiamin is also known as thiamine, aneurine or vitamin B1 because it was the very first B vitamin discovered. It is one of the several B vitamins that come together to form coenzymes that help in releasing energy. Thiamin is part of the B vitamins that help the body use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The B vitamins also support the nervous system, and ensure that it functions correctly. They are water-soluble, so the body does not accumulate them. Occasionally, thiamin is considered an “anti-stress” vitamin because it can enhance the immune system and aid the body’s ability to endure stressful conditions. (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2015).

8.1.1 SourcesEdit

Thiamin is found in miniscule amounts in a various amount of nutritious foods. It is found in plants and animals, but meats in the pork family are notably rich in thiamin. Grains, whole or enriched, are also a dependable source of thiamin. Beneficial and sometimes unusual sources of thiamin are soymilk, acorn squash, and tomato juice. Other different sources are cereals, peas, beans, nuts, and watermelon. Fortified foods are often filled with thiamin that is why common products rich in thiamin include grains, milks, breads, and cereals (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2015).

Supplements are also a source of Vitamin B1. It can be found in a wide array of multivitamins, including children’s chewable vitamins, or in B complex vitamins, or it may be sold by itself. With today’s advancement in medicine, this vitamin is accessible in a wide assortment of forms including pills that you swallow, chewable tables, soft gels, and lozenges. Thiamin may also be identified as “thiamine hydrochloride” or “thiamine mononitrate.” As with all vitamin supplements, one should first check with his or her doctor before taking this supplement regularly or when distributing it to children (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2015).

8.1.2 FunctionsEdit

Thiamin is the vitamin that is a part of the coenzyme thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP) which assists in energy metabolism. This coenzyme engages in the reconstruction of pyruvate to acetyl CoA. This step is vital in allowing carbohydrate energy to go into the TCA cycle and generate more ATP than glycolysis. Thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP) has a critical role in energy metabolism, but it also occupies a very specific site on nerve cell membranes. Therefore, nerve activity and muscle activity both depend on the very important vitamin thiamin.

People take thiamine for various reasons. It is necessary for those with thiamine deficiencies. Illnesses associated with thiamine deficiency include beriberi and inflammation of the nerves more concisely named neuritis associated with pellagra or pregnancy. Benefits of having this vitamin in your diet include digestive regulation particularly correcting poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea. Thiamine is also has immune benefits and is even used in treating Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome, diabetic pain, heart disease, and other serious diseases that compromise a person’s immune system (Higdon, 2015). Although the benefits of doing so have not been confirmed, some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude, enhancing learning abilities, increasing energy, fighting stress, and preventing memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Healthcare providers do; however, give shots of thiamine for treating a memory disorder called Wernicke's encephalopathy syndrome, other thiamine deficiency syndromes in critically ill people, alcohol withdrawal, and comas. It has anti-stress benefits. It treats health issues associated with stress most effectively immune deficiencies.

8.1.3 RequirementsEdit

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for thiamin that was edited in 1998 is based on the prevention of deficiency in normal, healthy, human beings. The RDA increases as an infant grows, but once adulthood is reached, it remains constant at 1.2 mg/day for males and 1.1 mg/day for women (Oregon State Institute, 2015).

Recommendations for Thiamin intake vary for children according to age. As children grow older, they require more and more thiamin. Male infants require 0.2 mg/day and adult males require 1.2 mg/day. The exceptions to this are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They require 1.4 mg of Thiamin per day. (Higdon, 2000.)

In most people, the body does not absorb more that 4.5 mg of Thiamin per day, even when they consume excessive amounts orally. (Thompson, 2000). This is why there are no reported effects of consuming too much Thiamin and there is no clear upper limit for Thiamin. The amount of Thiamin absorbed daily differs greatly for alcoholics. For people who are malnourished and alcohol dependent, the body absorbs about 0.8 mg of Thiamin a day when alcohol has been consumed beforehand. (Cook, 1998)

8.1.4 DeficiencyEdit

Thiamine deficiency can lead to many different health complications. Your body is incapable of storing large quantities of thiamine, so it is vital to take in thiamine through your diet (The Natural Standard Research Collaboration, 2013).

People can be predisposed to thiamine deficiencies. Some predisposing factors include, eating disorders, malnutrition, gastrointestinal surgical procedures and most commonly alcoholism (Osiezagha et al., 2013). Alcoholism is the most common cause for thiamine deficiency in the United States due to the poor diet associated with that particular lifestyle (Evert A, 2013; Osiezagha et al., 2013). Alcohol is also known to compromise thiamine absorption from the gastrointestinal tract which also can impair thiamine storage (Osiezagha et al., 2013).

Some common symptoms of thiamine deficiency include headache, nausea, fatigue, irritability, depression, weakness, psychosis, nerve damage, and abdominal discomfort (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013). There are also many health problems associated with this deficiency, as mentioned before. Some common diseases associated with thiamine deficiency are Wernicke’s disease, Korsakoff syndrome, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, beriberi, cancer, severe obesity, delirium, and systemic diseases (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013; Osiezagha et al., 2013).

Severe thiamine deficiency can lead to brain damage. Wernicke’s disease causes damage to nerves in the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nervous system (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013) This disease is often caused through malnutrition and alcoholism which then lead to thiamine deficiency (Ehrlich S, 2013). The Korsakoff syndrome can cause memory problems and nerve damage (Ehrlich, 2013). Beriberi is also a common disease with those with severe thiamine deficiency (Ehrlich S, 2013).

There are not many treatments to thiamine deficiency except to get medical attention immediately. Thiamine should be immediately supplied to the body through either intravenous or intramuscular ways to ensure an abundant amount of thiamine is being absorbed (Osiezagha et al., 2013). Treating thiamine deficiency with thiamine can help cure or lighten the severity of the disease. Although, this is not true for all diseases associated with thiamine deficiency. Some diseases have no improvement with thiamine being added to the body (World Health Organization, 1999). Another form of treatment is through thiamine or vitamin B-complex supplements (WHO, 1999). One downside to these supplements is that it is difficult to organize, expensive, and can be ineffective in the long term, as these are needed to be taken daily (WHO, 1999). The use of these tablets to treat thiamine deficiency should be only for outbreaks of thiamine deficiency diseases or to pregnant and lactating women (WHO, 1999).

There are also numerous ways to prevent your body from a thiamine deficiency disease. If your body is predisposed to thiamine deficiency it is possible to get preventative therapy (WHO, 1999). It is recommended that the therapy should continue for more than two weeks (WHO, 1999). Whether your body is predisposed or not, diversifying your diet can help to make sure you are eating more foods that have thiamine in them (WHO, 1999). Reducing the intake of anti-thiamine factors in your diet can also aid in preventing thiamine deficiency (WHO, 1999).

Works Cited

Ehrlich S. (2013). “Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)”. Retrieved from

Evert A. (2013). “Thiamine”. Retrieved from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (Ed.). (2015). Thiamine. Retrieved August 24, 2015, from

The Natural Standard Research Collaboration. (2013). “Thiamine (Vitamin B1)”. Retrieved from

Oregon State Institute (Ed.). (2015). Thiamin. Retrieved August 24, 2015, from

Osiezagha et al. (2013). “Thiamine deficiency and delirium”. Retrieved from

University of Maryland Medical Center (Ed.). (2015). Vitamin B1 (Thiamine). Retrieved August 24, 2015, from

World Health Organization (WHO). (1999). “Thiamine deficiency and its prevention and control in major emergencies”. Retrieved from

Prevention and Treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, C. C. H. Cook Alcohol and Alcoholism May 2000, 35 (Supplement 1) 19-20; DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/35.Supplement_1.19

Mechanisms of Vitamin Deficiency in Chronic Alcohol Misusers and the Development of the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, Allan D. Thomson

Alcohol and Alcoholism May 2000, 35 (Supplement 1) 2-1; DOI: 10.1093/alcalc/35.Supplement_1.2 Higdon, J. (2000). Micronutrient Information Center. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from

8.1.5 ToxicityEdit

Thiamine is more commonly known as Vitamin B1. It was given the name because thiamine was the first B complex vitamin to be discovered (Bradford, 2015). According to the Mayo Clinic, it was also one of the first vitamins of any type to b classified No know levels of thiamine have been identified. There is no upper limit to the amount of vitamin B1 that can be consumed. Vitamin B1 is water soluble thus if a person has an excess thiamine in there system, it is easily excreted in urine. The possibility of hypersensitivity to thiamine is; however, possible, but it is simply accompanied by fatigue and drowsiness.

Recommended daily value of Thiamin is 1.1 milligrams a day for women and more if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. For men, the recommended daily value is 1.2 milligrams a day (Whitney, 2013). There is, however, no specified upper limit to the amount that can be taken before toxicity. Thiamin has many sources in a diet the most prevalent being in whole grains, legumes, and pork. The most common form of rice eaten today is white rice which is not a whole grain. Instead, it is a polished down grain. In the process of doing so, the thiamin that naturally occurs in the grain is also stripped away. Because of this stripping, white rice is enriched, or fortified, with thiamin. Because of the over processing of many foods, thiamin is an oft enriched vitamin.