Vitamin B1 or thiamine is a water soluble vitamin that belongs to the B complex vitamins. Two of the main functions of thiamine are to convert carbohydrates into energy and to assist in the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. Thiamine is also necessary to assist in the production of hydrochloric acid and to aid in proper digestion.
The RDA for thiamine is between 0.2mg to 1.2mg per day depending on age and sex. Pregnant and breastfeeding women of all ages require 1.4mg a day. Thiamine is easily obtained from foods. Foods rich in thiamine include sunflower seeds, whole grains, legumes such as lentils and peas, nuts, meat and yeast.
Taking thiamine foods may help treat ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease and ease diarrhea. Thiamine vitamin supplement helps improve poor appetite, athletic performance and energy and in the prevention of vision problems. Thiamine is also used for strengthening the body's defense system and to fight stress.
Thiamine deficiency can occur because of low intake of food that contains the vitamin, loss of thiamin from the body or additional needs for thiamine isn't met as in the case of pregnancy or breastfeeding. Consumption of alcohol is one of the reasons because it prevents the absorption of thiamine.
Thiamine deficiency will result in a nervous system ailment called beriberi. Signs of beriberi and thiamine deficiency symptoms in the early stages include a burning feet syndrome which is severe burning and aching on the feet and can lead to excessive sweating. There'll be muscle pains and as it progressed, beriberi will cause rapid heart rate and severe water retention. Other symptoms include severe fatigue and lethargy.
Abuse of alcohol can result in severe thiamine deficiency and cause another neurological disorder called Korsakoff syndrome. One of the symptoms is amnesia or severe memory loss. Another disorder caused by severe lack of thiamine is Wernicke disease or also called wet brain. The symptoms include involuntary eye movements and confusion.