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Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 (also called Thiamine, Thiamin or Aneurin) is a quite volatile and water-soluble vitamin of the B complex. All living organisms use thiamine in their biochemistry, but it is synthesized in bacteria, fungi, and plants.
Thiamine is mainly the transport form of the vitamin, while the active forms are phosphorylated thiamine derivatives. There are five known natural thiamine phosphate derivatives:

The best-characterized form is thiamine pyrophosphate, a coenzyme in the catabolism of sugars and amino acids. Thiamine pyrophosphate is mainly involved in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, and for myelin synthesis. Thiamine triphosphate is considered a specific neuroactive form of thiamine. Adenosine thiamine triphosphate has recently been discovered in E. coli where it accumulates as a result of carbon starvation. Adenosine thiamine diphosphate exists in small amounts in the liver over vertebrates, but its role remains unknown.
Thiamin is available as a nutritional supplement, mainly in the synthetic forms of thiamin hydrochloride and thiamin (mono)nitrate.


All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is "burned" to produce energy. These B vitamins, together referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them. They travel in the bloodstream and are excreted in urine.
Thiamine or Vitamin B1 was discovered at the turn of the 20th century by a group of Dutch scientists. It was named Vitamin B1, because it was the first B vitamin discovered. Before this name was assigned the substance carried the label aneurin: anti-neuritic vitamin, for its effect on the neurological system when lacking in the diet. The name 'thiamine' derives from the contraction "thio-vitamin", meaning: "sulfur-containing vitamin".
Thiamine is a colorless compound with a chemical formula C12H17N4OS. Thiamine is besides in water, also soluble in methanol and glycerol, and practically insoluble in acetone, ether, chloroform, and benzene. Vitamin B1 is unstable in alkaline solutions, in heat, and when exposed to ultraviolet light and gamma irradiation. The vitamin reacts strongly in Maillard-type reactions.

vitamine b1 samenstelling Picture: molecular model of Vitamin B1 (aka Thiamine).
Molecular mass: 300.8076
Molecular formula: C12H17N4OS


Vitamin B1 is usually ingested in the diet. This is necessary mainly because it is a water-soluble vitamin that the body can only retain for 4 to 10 days. Grains are the principal source for Vitamin B1, whole grains more so than refined grains. Oral supplements are the easiest way to counteract a deficiency. It is advised that you take the vitamin with food, when taken on an empty stomach the body readily excretes it.
When patients are severely deficient, possibly because of malnutrition or due to other medical issues, Vitamin B1 can be administered intravenously.
Vitamin B1 may occur in cosmetic products. Usually this is not done on purpose, but because it is present in one of the constituents of the products. Examples are skin products with goat's milk or water from the Dead Sea. Thiamin is often found in face masks.

Medicinal actions

Vitamin B1 is a co-enzyme that is involved in fat- and carbohydrate metabolism. Vitamin B1 will decrease irritability by keeping your mind flexible, and it nurtures the mucous membranes in the body. After taking Thiamin the body excretes a sulfur-like atom that is supposed to keep mosquitoes at a distance. Some sources say that diabetes-related nerve damage to the eye could be inhibited by thiamin-supplementation.
Because it is a water-soluble vitamin, only small amounts of Thiamin can be stored by the body. Depletion can occur as quickly as within 10 days. Alcoholics are most likely to be deficient in this vitamin, because alcohol both destroys Thiamin and causes the body to excrete more of it. The first signs of Vitamin B1-deficiency include weight loss, irritability, confusion and a tingling sense in the soles of the feet. A chronic shortage of Thiamin can lead to three main diseases: Beriberi, Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's psychosis, all very serious health conditions.
While Vitamin B1 supplementation can reverse some of the symptoms, others are permanent and can not be eradicated. A large intake of raw fish and alcoholism both decrease the body's ability to absorb and store Vitamin B1. Other causes for deficiencies are malnutrition and gastrointestinal diseases.

Most common applications of Vitamin B1:

Industrial application

There is no known alternative application of Vitamin B1.


The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Thiamine for adults ages 19 years and older in most countries is set at about 1.1 - 1.4 mg. However, tests on female volunteers at daily doses of about 50 mg have claimed an increase in mental acuity.
Vitamin B1 is most effective when taken as a part of a good vitamin B-complex.
In The Netherlands the following recommended daily dosage of Vitamin B1 is advised:

dagdosis nederland

In the USA the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals are determined by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council and are intended to provide adequate nutrition in most healthy persons under usual environmental stresses. In Canada the Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) for vitamins, minerals, and protein are determined by Health and Welfare in Canada and provide recommended amounts of a specific nutrient while minimizing the risk of chronic diseases.

dagdosis amerika

Heavy drinkers, smokers, pregnant women and women who use contraceptive pills should increase their normal dosage to 100-300 mg/day. If you live under continued stress it is also advisable to increase the dosage.
A daily dose of 50 - 100 mg is often taken as a supplement. Thiamine appears safe even at high doses; however, you should talk to your doctor before taking a large amount. A daily dosage of 400 mg is considered as the maximum safe dosage. The risk of overdose is small, since a surplus of Vitamin B1 is readily excreted in the urine.
There are no reports available of adverse effects from consumption of excess thiamine by ingestion of food and supplements. Because the data is inadequate for a quantitative risk assessment, no Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) can be derived for thiamine.


Vitamin B1 interacts with other compounds

Warnings and indications

More information / news

2013-06-09 Thiamine shortage hits city hospitals
2013-05-31 High-Dose Thiamine Improves Fibromyalgia Symptoms
2012-10-29 Thiamine, The Paradigm Shift in Diabetes
2012-04-13 Vitamin B1(thiamin) Benefits
2012-02-04 Pharmacokinetics of high-dose oral thiamine hydrochloride in healthy subjects
2011-03-16 What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin B1?
2011-02-14 EFSA approves vitamin B1-infant brain health claim
2010-11-17 What Conditions Vitamin B1 Helps
2010-11-17 Top 5 Health Benefits of Vitamin B1
2010-08-23 Thiamine may curb diabetic kidney
2010-07-23 EFSA approves vitamin B1 metabolism health claim

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