Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is another one of the B vitamins, whose presence in the diet is essential for the proper functioning of the body, including the nervous and cardiovascular systems. In which products we can find vitamin B1? How does it affect our body? What do we need vitamin B1 for? What can be the effects of a deficit of B1 or an excess of this vitamin?

Functions of Vitamin B1

First of all, it should be noted that thiamine takes an active part in the process of carbohydrate metabolism. Vitamin B1 also has a real impact in the psychological context, for example, mood, because it participates in the synthesis of neurotransmitters – substances transmitting information between neurons.

Research also show that the presence of vitamin B1 in the body reduces the healing time of wounds, but also protects the kidneys in the case of type II diabetes, in that it reduces the loss of protein excreted with urine (which may indicate damage to the kidneys). In addition, thiamine also exhibits antioxidant properties, that is, it degrades excess free radicals from the body and thus prevents premature cellular aging.

Chemical structure of Vitamin B1
Chemical structure of Vitamin B1

Dietary sources of vitamin B1

The main source of thiamine, or vitamin B1, are products of plant origin. Cereals and vegetables like for example peas and beans, are certainly a valuable source of vitamin B1; however, it should be noted that the thiamine content of individual cereal products depends on many factors, in particular the type of grain, the yield and the technological processes used in their production.

On the other hand, when it comes to thiamine content in products of animal origin, pork is the leading product here, because per 100 grams there is on average between 0.5 and 1 mg of vitamin B1. Thiamine can also be found in fish, such as mackerel and salmon, or in eggs.

Most important dietary sources of Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Most important dietary sources of Thiamine (vitamin B1)

Symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency

The most common and serious symptom of vitamin B1 deficiency is “beri-beri” disease, a form of avitaminosis.

In medicine, three types of Beri-beri disease are distinguished. All types are associated with improper work of various systems in the body. They differ primarily in their symptoms, but have the same cause, namely – a deficiency of vitamin B1. Although the occurrence of this disease is not quite common, it should be remembered that if no treatment is done beri-beri disease may even lead to death.

The studies also show that thiamine deficiency adversely affects the digestive system, because it can lead to diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, and even vomiting. Other effects of vitamin B1 deficiency include loss of sex drive or enlargement of the heart or swelling of the upper and lower limbs.

Effects of excess vitamin B1

While vitamin B1 deficiency causes a number of negative effects as mentioned above, no harmful effects of thiamine excess have been found, and this is due in no small part to the fact that in case of excess it is quickly excreted from the body with urine. It is recognized that a possible excess of vitamin B1 may result in the occurrence of various allergic reactions or may cause dizziness, muscle tremors or minor heart arrhythmia.