Vitamin B1 is a member of the B-vitamin family.
Vitamin B1 is an important coenzyme that helps the body convert food into energy. It also assists in manufacturing fat and metabolizing protein. Thiamin is necessary to maintain normal function in the nervous system.
Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine or Thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin of the B complex. Water-soluble means it can dissolve in water. We need vitamin B1 so that our body can use carbohydrates as energy – it is essential for glucose metabolism. Vitamin B1 also plays a key role in nerve, muscle and heart function.
Vitamins are categorized by the materials they dissolve in. There are two types of vitamins – water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are carried through the bloodstream. Whatever our bodies do not use up is eliminated in urine. Therefore, we need a continuous supply of vitamin B1 – we need to be consuming it daily.
Our understanding of vitamin B1 and its relationship to energy deprivation has carried over into our approach to other health problems (like alcoholism) in which vitamin B1 deficiency plays a critical role.
Most cells in the body depend on sugar as an energy source. When oxygen is used to help convert sugar into usable energy, the process of energy generation is called aerobic energy production. This process cannot take place without adequate supplies of vitamin B1, since B1 is part of an enzyme system (called the pyruvate dehydrogenase system) that enables oxygen-based processing of sugar.
When vitamin B1 functions in this energy-production capacity, it is usually present in the form of TDP, or thiamin diphosphate. Other forms of vitamin B1, including TPP (thiamin pyrophosphate) and TMP (thiamin monophosphate) are also important in energy production.
Because vitamin B1 is so important in energy production, and because food energy is usually measured in terms of calories, vitamin B1 is often prescribed in relationship to caloric intake. For example, recommendations sometime suggest intake of 0.5 milligrams of B1 for every 1,000 calories consumed.
Vitamin B1 also plays a key role in support of the nervous system, where it permits healthy development of the fat-like coverings which surround most nerves (called myelin sheaths). In the absence of vitamin B1, these coverings can degenerate or become damaged. Pain, prickly sensations, and nerve deadening are nerve-related symptoms that can result from vitamin B1 deficiency.
A second type of connection between vitamin B1 and the nervous system involves its role in the production of the messaging molecule acetylcholine. This molecule, called a neurotransmitter, is used by the nervous system to relay messages between the nerves and muscles. Acetylcholine cannot be produced without adequate supplies of vitamin B1. Because acetylcholine is used by the nervous system to ensure proper muscle tone in the heart, deficiency of B1 can also result in compromised heart function.
People with vitamin B1 deficiency can develop beriberi, a disease characterized by heart, nerve and digestive disorders.
Some patients take thiamine for thiamine deficiency syndromes, when their levels of vitamin B1 are too low, including those with beriberi, or pellagra (a vitamin-deficiency disease).
Patients with ulcerative colitis, persistent diarrhea, and poor appetite may also be given thiamine.
Vitamin B1 may play a role in the prevention or treatment of the following health conditions: Alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Congestive heart failure and Depression so on.