Vitamin B1 – Thiamine

Vitamin B1 also called as Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin of the B complex. All living organisms from bacteria to humans need thiamine for survival. Lower organisms like bacteria and fungi; and plants synthesize thiamine but other animals and humans cannot synthesize it so it should be consumed for survival.

It is extremely important for proper nerve function and proper glucose metabolism.

Vitamin B1 – Thiamine Sources

Brown Rice a good source of Vitamin B1Thiamine is found various foods, both plant and animal sources. Yeast and yeast extract are the most highly concentrated sources of thiamine. Slightly fermented whole grains are also a rich source of Vitamin B1. In general, cereal grains (whole grains) are the most important dietary sources of thiamine. It is very important to consume whole grains as this vitamin is concentrated on the outer layers of the grain and this is lost while polishing. The major reason for this vitamin deficiency today is polishing of brown rice and using refined wheat flour.

Some other foods rich in thiamine are oatmeal, flax, sunflower seeds, brown rice, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, potatoes and oranges

Biological Functions of Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is required by the body on an every day basis for a healthy functioning of the nervous system and to maintain good metabolism levels. The important biological functions of Vitamin B1 are:[checklist]

  • Thiamine derivatives and thiamine-dependent enzymes are present in all cells of the body
  • Plays a vital role in glucose metabolism (people with diabetes have issues with thiamine levels)
  • Maintains Cellular function
  • Maintains the nervous system and neuron health[/checklist]

Vitamin B1- Deficiency

As thiamine derivatives and enzymes are present in every cell of our body, a thiamine deficiency will all of the organ systems. However, the nervous system and the heart are particularly sensitive to thiamine deficiency, this is because the oxidative metabolism is the highest in the heart and brain.

A severe thiamine deficiency may lead to metabolic coma and death. Vitamin B1 Deficiency might also be caused due to consumption of too much of anti-thiamine foods. Some of the anti-thiamine foods are tea, coffee and betel nuts.

Overall thiamine deficiency leads to complications in people with diabetes, beri beri (dry, wet and infantile), optic neuropathy, psychosis and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Vitamin B1 – Requirements and supplements

On an average for a normal individual the daily minimum requirement of Vitamin B1 is 1.4 mg/day. However there is no proven risk of over-dosage, so there is no upper limit set for this vitamin.

Consumption of natural whole grains should be sufficient. Whole wheat bread, brown rice or other whole grain foods is sufficient. However if you want to some supplements then read more about the vitamin supplements before opting for supplements.

About the author


Ajithkumar, an Engineer and a management professional is the founder of He’s practiced Yoga and Pranayama for more than a decade, after learning it from his renowned guru Gireeshan. He has a keen interest in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.