Health Benefits of Vitamin B1

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on August 08, 2023
2 min read

Your body needs a variety of vitamins to work the way it should. One of them is vitamin B1. Also known as thiamine, B1 helps your body turn food into energy.

Boosts energy production. When sugar mixes with vitamin B1, it becomes energy for your body to use. B1 helps make this process faster while supporting the other enzymes.

Reduces the effects of sepsis. Sepsis, a severe response to an infection, can become fatal if your vitamin B1 levels are low. Along with vitamin C, thiamine can reduce the effects of sepsis. It can also lower the risk of kidney failure that often results from the infection.

Helps fight depression. Taking vitamin B1 supplements along with an antidepressant is good for depression. Vitamin B1 helps ease symptoms faster while stabilizing your mood. Lack of vitamin B1 has also been linked to low moods.

Good for diabetes. If you have diabetes, think about getting more thiamine. Studies show that high blood sugar and insulin levels improve after taking vitamin B1 for 6 weeks. B1 also helps reduce high blood pressure and heart complications in people with diabetes.

Prevents kidney and circulation problems. A dose of vitamins B1 and B12 can help improve nerve pain in people with diabetes and may reduce the need for painkillers.

Minimizes the risk of heart disease. Thiamine is key to the production of acetylcholine. This is the element that helps your body pass messages between its nerves and muscles. Without this communication, your heart wouldn’t work the way it should. Lack of vitamin B1 is one reason for uneven cardiac function.

Improves memory. Getting enough thiamine can help improve concentration and memory. Because of its positive effect on attitude and brain function, it is also known as a "morale vitamin".

Some of the most common places to find B1 include:

  • Wheat germ
  • Legumes (like beans)
  • Beef
  • Organ meats
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Nuts
  • Bran
  • Potatoes
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Rice

A lack of vitamin B1 can lead to serious health consequences. Early symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Abdominal discomfort

Very low thiamine levels may lead to:

  • Beriberi, a condition that causes a loss of appetite, muscle weakness, and a pricking feeling in the toes and burning in the feet
  • Fast heartbeat, low blood pressure (hypotension), and fluid retention
  • Brain problems

Don’t overlook the role of vitamin B1 in your body. Eat a balanced diet rich in thiamine, and try not to overcookfood in order to keep as many nutrients as possible.