Vitamin-B1 - The Wellness

When you have healthy vitamin B1 stores in the body, you feel great mentally. You can learn easily. You feel a sense of wellness, a sense of peace. And the whole time, your appetite does not rule your life, driving you to go get sugar and "bad" foods, even when you have a few extra glasses of wine.

History Helps Put Nutrition Facts Into Perspective

During the industrial revolution, 'white' foods were in: white sugar, white flour, and light-colored desserts like white cake, white cookies, vanilla pudding, and 'delicate' desserts such as lady fingers, little cakes that were creme-colored. These foods contained sugar and white flour as their main ingredients. The problem with these foods was that in the processing of flour, if the bran is removed, leaving the white flour, then all the nutrients in that bran are also removed. The person who then eats that white flour did not get those nutrients that were removed. One of them was vitamin B1.

The same is true for white sugar. In the processing of sugar cane, the B vitamins are removed in the molasses portion, leaving white sugar devoid of nutrients. Consuming white sugar then can start a cycle of nutritional deficiencies, including that of vitamin B1.

People who ate a diet that contained a substantial amount of sugar and white flour started developing deficiencies. However, it was when rice was processed to remove the bran that the vitamin B1 deficiency called beriberi was discovered. Years later, fortification of these foods was initiated as public policy so that deficiency could be prevented.

Deficiency of Thiamine is Not Pretty

In a vitamin B1 deficiency, there are problems digesting carbohydrates and a buildup of one of the metabolic intermediates called pyruvic acid. This causes problems breathing, damage to the heart and mental fogginess.

The first signs of deficiency include loss of appetite, irritability, emotional instability and easy fatigue which can progress to loss of memory and confusion, abdominal pains, constipation and gastric distress. Soon there are heart irregularities, tender calf muscles, and prickly sensations in the legs and feet. A thiamine deficiency can also cause optic nerve inflammation, sleep apnea, anorexia, infertility, and even dementia. As you can see, the feeling of wellness does not exist when there is a deficiency.

Much of the indigestion, constipation and abdominal pains result from the lack of hydrochloric acid which thiamine helps produce.

And that's not all. A deficiency of thiamine can also case problems with reaction time between hand and eye, the time it takes the body to react, how fast someone moves and make them clumsy. It weakens the heart muscle to the point of heart failure. Some researchers believe that one of the first steps towards cancer is a thiamine deficiency, especially in women.

Children don't grow consistently without vitamin B1, thiamine.

Replacing the thiamine that is needed quickly improves people's dispositions and sense of wellness.

Who is Most Susceptible to Deficiency?

Those who continue to consume white flour and white rice that is not fortified and white sugar are susceptible to a deficiency.

Alcoholics often have a vitamin B1 deficiency. That's because the enzymes that degrade alcohol all contain a form of thiamine.

Food Forms and Food Sources of Thiamine

The forms of thiamine that are used in the body include thiamine monophosphate, free thiamine, thiamine diphosphate, thiamine pyrophosphate, thiamine triphosphate, adenosine thiamine triphosphate and one called TTDF (a fat soluble version) for short are generally found in supplements and foods.

Liver and yeast are loaded with thiamine. Cereal grains contain thiamine in the bran portion. Brown rice, oatmeal, asparagus, kale and cauliflower are also good sources. Pork and eggs are high as well. Nutritionists recommend that you do not rely on fortification to prevent deficiencies.

How Much Thiamine Do You Need?

The amount needed depends on the amount of carbohydrate in your diet, but a safe amount is thought to be 0.5 mg per 1000 calories consumed. The amount increases to 1.4 mg thiamine during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Nutrition-savvy dentists have discovered that administration of extra thiamine prior to dental operations prevents pain. If thiamine was not received prior to dental surgery, it will still help relieve dental pain. The same result can be expected with injured and diseased nerves. The thiamine restores the functioning of the nerve and also relieves the pain.

Thiamine Toxicity

There are no known toxic side effects of thiamine supplementation although large doses may cause imbalances in other B vitamins.

1 Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2002.
2 Wikipedia.

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