Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, belongs to the vitamin B complex and to the water-soluble vitamins. It contributes to normal mental function and normal functioning of the nervous system. Furthermore, vitamin B1 contributes to normal energy metabolism and normal heart function.
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. It is a water-soluble vitamin. The human body needs it to transform certain nutrients from food into energy. Especially carbohydrates. In addition, vitamin B1 is needed to support the nerves.
Sensitive is the reaction of the vitamin to oxygen, UV radiation and heat. This means that the content in food can fluctuate, here it depends on the preparation or storage. Vitamin B1 cannot be permanently stored in the body.
If we eat a balanced diet, we also provide ourselves with sufficient vitamin B1. Therefore, a deficiency of the vitamin cannot normally occur. However, there are risk groups. These are people with metabolic diseases. People who are addicted to alcohol or who eat a very unbalanced diet are also at risk. People who consume mainly products made from white flour or eat only polished rice can also suffer from a vitamin B1 deficiency.
In addition, there is the risk of excessive consumption of coffee and black tea. Then it is possible that vitamin B1 cannot be completely utilized from food. This also applies to raw fish. There are certain substances there that inhibit or completely prevent the absorption of the vitamin.
There are also diseases that are responsible for a vitamin B1 deficiency. These are, for example, liver and intestinal diseases such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and specific eating disorders.
When there is a deficiency of vitamin B1 in the body, various symptoms can appear. These include memory problems, fatigue, and dwindling mental and physical performance. If the deficiency lasts longer and is pronounced, beri-beri disease can result.
Can too much vitamin B1 be stored in the body? No, this is usually not possible through intake in the diet or through dietary supplements. If there is an excess of vitamin B1 in the body, it is removed through the urine. Therefore, it makes sense to pay particular attention to the sufficient intake of vitamin B1, so that our body is supplied with it.
Thiamine fulfills various functions in the human body. Very important is the function of energy production from the absorption of proteins and carbohydrates. Furthermore, thiamine is a donor of phosphate and thus responsible for the transmission of stimuli to the nerves.
The Beri Beri disease already mentioned is caused by a permanent deficiency of vitamin B1. Especially in countries where the diet is very one-sided and polished rice is eaten as a staple food, the danger exists. This is because vitamin B1 is found in the outer layer of rice and cereal grains. If rice is husked, thiamine is also lost.
The symptoms then show up in damage to the cardiovascular system. In addition, the nervous system is also severely disrupted. Other manifestations include sensory disturbances of the arms and legs, muscle weakness, and cardiac insufficiency. This can even lead to heart failure.
In Europe, however, this danger is almost non-existent. Nevertheless, there are certain risk groups, which include, in addition to those already mentioned, women with severe morning sickness. This can also have consequences for their breastfed children and can be manifested in a deficiency of thiamine. It may then be necessary to take additional thiamine through dietary supplements.
On average, the recommended intake of vitamin B1 is higher than the actual requirement. However, more than 30 percent of women do not reach this amount. Nevertheless, there is still no deficiency here. The recommendation for daily intake of thiamine takes into account different metabolic functions and different food intake habits. This group needs more vitamin B1. The fact that people in Europe have an adequate supply of vitamin B1 can be proven by special procedures such as the detection of thiamine diphosphate accumulation in the blood. Another diagnostic method for this purpose is the measurement of the concentration of thiamine excretion in urine.
The average amount of vitamin B1 intake we need to consume per day depends on individual energy consumption. Men should consume about 1.2 milligrams of thiamine daily, and women about 1.0 milligrams of thiamine. In older people, the need for vitamin B1 decreases somewhat, while younger people need more thiamine. This is because they are more active and have a faster metabolism while they are still growing. Boys should take in around 1.4 milligrams of vitamin B1 through food, girls around 1.1 milligrams.
The human body can only store a small amount of vitamin B1 in the muscles, brain, kidneys, liver and blood. The amount is 25 to 30 milligrams. In addition, the biological half-life is quite short, ranging from nine to 18 days. Because of this, we need to take vitamin B1 regularly.
In principle, vitamin B1 is found in all animal and plant foods. Anyone who eats a varied diet is sufficiently supplied with thiamine. Lean meat in particular contains a lot of vitamin B1. Whole grains, especially oatmeal, contain significantly more nutrients. This also applies to vitamin B1. Therefore, you should increase your intake of these. Legumes, potatoes, peanuts, sunflower seeds, plaice and tuna also contain a lot of vitamin B1.
Because vitamin B1 is sensitive to heat and is water-soluble, cooking results in about a 30 percent loss of thiamine. Prolonged storage of foods can also contribute to this.
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