THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1) Overview Information
Thiamine is a vitamin, also called vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal grains, beans, nuts, and meat. It is often used in combination with other B vitamins, and found in many vitamin B complex products. Vitamin B complexes generally include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folic acid. However, some products do not contain all of these ingredients and some may include others, such as biotin, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline bitartrate, and inositol.
People take thiamine for conditions related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency syndromes), including beriberi and inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) associated with pellagra or pregnancy.
Thiamine is also used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea.
Thiamine is also used for AIDS and boosting the immune system, diabetic pain, heart disease, alcoholism, aging, a type of brain damage called cerebellar syndrome, canker sores, vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, motion sickness, and improving athletic performance. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude; enhancing learning abilities; increasing energy; fighting stress; and preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer's disease.
Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for a memory disorder called Wernicke's encephalopathy syndrome, other thiamine deficiency syndromes in critically ill people, alcohol withdrawal, and coma.
How does it work?
Thiamine is required by our bodies to properly use carbohydrates.
- Metabolic disorders. Taking thiamine by mouth helps correct metabolic disorders associated with genetic diseases, including Leigh's disease, maple syrup urine disease, and others.
- Thiamine deficiency. Taking thiamine by mouth helps prevent and treat thiamine deficiency.
- Brain disorder due to thiamine deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome). Thiamine helps decrease the risk and symptoms of a specific brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). This brain disorder is related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency) and is often seen in alcoholics. Between 30% and 80% of alcoholics are believed to have thiamine deficiency. Giving thiamine shots seems to help decrease the risk of developing WKS and decrease symptoms of WKS during alcohol withdrawal.
Possibly Effective for:
- Cataracts. High thiamine intake as part of the diet is associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts.
- Kidney disease in people with diabetes. Early research shows that taking high-dose thiamine (100 mg three times daily) for 3 months decreases the amount of albumin in the urine in people with type 2 diabetes. Albumin in the urine is an indication of kidney damage.
- Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). Early research suggests that taking thiamine for 90 days stops pain associated with menstruation in girls 12-21 years-old.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Repelling mosquitos. Some research shows that taking B vitamins, including thiamine, does not help repel mosquitos.
- Athletic performance. Some research suggests that taking thiamine together with pantethine and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) does not improve muscle strength or endurance in athletes.
- Preventing cervical cancer. Some research suggests that increasing intake of thiamine from dietary and supplement sources, along with other folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, might decrease the risk of precancerous spots on the cervix.
- Poor appetite.
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Stomach problems.
- Brain conditions.
- Heart disease.
- Canker sores.
- Other conditions.
THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1) Side Effects & Safety
Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts, although rare allergic reactions and skin irritation have occurred. It is also LIKELY SAFE when given appropriately intravenously (by IV) by a healthcare provider. Thiamine shots are an FDA-approved prescription product.
Thiamine might not properly enter the body in some people who have liver problems, drink a lot of alcohol, or have other conditions.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 1.4 mg daily. Not enough is known about the safety of using larger amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1) Dosing
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For adults with somewhat low levels of thiamine in their body (mild thiamine deficiency): the usual dose of thiamine is 5-30 mg daily in either a single dose or divided doses for one month. The typical dose for severe deficiency can be up to 300 mg per day.
- For reducing the risk of getting cataracts: a daily dietary intake of approximately 10 mg of thiamine.
- Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for treating and preventing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome).