A part of the vitamin B complex, vitamin B1 known as thiamine is also an essential vitamin just like other vitamin B complex vitamins. Known for playing a pivotal role in several body functions, this amazing vitamin is responsible mainly for the conversion of food into energy. But there is so much more to it, let’s get started.
What is Vitamin B1 and Where it came from?
Like other vitamin B complex vitamins, vitamin B1 is also a water-soluble vitamin which in literal terms means it is soluble in water. Carried around the body via the bloodstream, it performs several functions and is excreted via urine.
Known as thiamine or thiamin or vitamin B1, it was the first-ever vitamin B complex vitamin that was discovered by scientists back in 1897. This is why it is called B1. Vitamin B1 was first isolated from brown rice by a Polish scientist named Casimir Funk who called it by the name anti-beri-beri factor.
It is an essential vitamin which means it cannot be made by the human body and has to be gained from an external source like food, supplements, or multivitamins.
ATP is a molecule that transports energy from one cell to another and to make ATP, the body needs thiamine. This is the reason it is often called a vitamin workforce.
Food Sources of Vitamin B1
Luckily, we have an abundance of food sources of vitamin B1 around us. Here is a small list for you to pick your favorites from:
- Whole grains
- Brewer’s yeast
- White rice
- White flour
- Blackstrap molasses
One serving of breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin B1 provides 1.5mg of thiamine. Likewise, one slice of bread provides 7% of DV of vitamin B1.
Benefits of Vitamin B1
The benefits of thiamine are too many to keep a count. From being a cofactor to the conversion of food into energy, it has to play a role in the body at several points. Let’s get to know some key benefits of vitamin B1:
1. Heart Friendly Food Component
Vitamin B1 is categorized as a heart-friendly food component, here is why: Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that transmits messages between muscles and nerves ensuring a properly working cardiac function. A study was carried out in which patients suffering from congestive heart failure were given vitamin B1 for a week. The results showed a drastic improvement in the electrocardiograms of the patients. Hence, a heart-friendly food component for a reason.
2. Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
Many may not know this but vitamin B1 has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, it is true! A study carried out by Gary E. Gibson and his fellows showed that there is quite a similarity between Alzheimer’s disease and thiamine deficiency like in both of the disorders there is seen a decline in the brain’s cognitive function and metabolism of brain glucose. The patients were given a 100mg supplement of vitamin B1 for many days and the results showed significant relief in the disease.
3. Energy Production
Vitamin B1 plays a key role in the pyruvate dehydrogenase system which is responsible for the oxidation of sugar in the body. This oxidation of sugar is the principal source of energy for the body. Moreover, vitamin B1 is a part of several energy production processes in the body such as the production of ATP which is the main energy-carrying molecule of the body. Thiamine is responsible for the breakdown of proteins and fats in addition to the breakdown of carbohydrates into glucose which is the primary source of energy for the body. In addition to these systems, pyruvate dehydrogenase is a system of enzymes that is responsible for the metabolism of sugars in our diet.
4. Immunity Booster
Food experts often like to call vitamin B1 the “anti-stress” vitamin because of its ability to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin B1 improves our body’s response to stressful conditions hence boosting the immunity against disease, injury, or stress.
5. Brain-Friendly Vitamin
Vitamin B1 is a brain-friendly vitamin. It improves focus and memory of our brain. Moreover, it plays a significant role in the management of nervous disorders like Bell’s palsy and multiple sclerosis. Intake of vitamin B1 improves brain health and mood hence known as “morale vitamin”. A very important role of vitamin B1 is in the formation of the myelin sheath around the nerves which prevents nerve damage leading to death. The nerve cells as well the supporting cells of the nervous system, both of them require vitamin B1 for their proper functioning.
6. Improved Eye Health
Vitamin B1 has been shown to play a role in eye health. It has been proved from a study that people who take a suitable amount of vitamin B1 in their diet have reduced risks of developing cataracts.
7. Improved Digestion
Vitamin B1 plays a role in the regulation of digestive processes. The most significant function is the regular production of hydrochloric acid, which keeps the digestion in check. Moreover, it has also been seen to improve appetite.
Side Effects of Vitamin B1
There are side effects to almost everything nowadays. Just like that intake of vitamin B1 may have few side effects like the development of allergic reactions, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, sweating, hives, restlessness, and black stools. You may experience some of these or different symptoms altogether. Consult your doctor when anything alarming occurs.
There are not many chemical compounds or food components that have diversified functions in the body like vitamin B1. Now, that you are familiar with the beneficial effects of this amazing vitamin, it’s now time to incorporate it into the diet. Choose from plenty of food sources and start today!