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Thiamine, one of the eight B vitamins, is named vitamin B-1 because it was the first of the B vitamins to be identified 2. Thiamine is water-soluble, which means your body can't store it, so it needs to be replenished daily. Most adults need just over 1.1 to 1.2 milligrams per day, but supplement dosages may be higher, so speak to your doctor before taking thiamine supplements.
What Thiamine Does in the Body
Thiamine is necessary to turn the foods you eat into energy and help your body metabolize protein. It's needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver, and it also helps the nervous system function properly. Vitamin B-1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal, breads and other grain products, beans, nuts and meat. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that thiamine is sometimes called an anti-stress vitamin because it strengthens your immune system and might improve your ability to withstand stressful conditions 12.
- Thiamine is necessary to turn the foods you eat into energy and help your body metabolize protein.
- The University of Maryland Medical Center says that thiamine is sometimes called an anti-stress vitamin because it strengthens your immune system and might improve your ability to withstand stressful conditions 1.
Treatment for Disorders
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Thiamine supplements are effective for treating thiamine deficiency disorders such as beriberi, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1. Such deficiencies can be due to lack of thiamine in the diet or as a result of certain diseases like beriberi. MedlinePlus says thiamine prevents and treats Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which is related to thiamine deficiency and is usually seen in alcoholics 2. Thiamine might also prevent kidney damage in people who have type-2 diabetes. In addition, the vitamin might help prevent cataracts and is beneficial for treatment of some genetic disorders.
- Thiamine supplements are effective for treating thiamine deficiency disorders such as beriberi, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1.
- Thiamine might also prevent kidney damage in people who have type-2 diabetes.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)
- Institute of Medicine: Daily Reference Intakes: Vitamins
- Costantini A, Pala MI. Thiamine and Hashimoto's thyroiditis: a report of three cases. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(3):208-11. doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0612
- Costantini A1, Pala MI. Thiamine and fatigue in inflammatory bowel diseases: an open-label pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. Aug 2013;19(8):704-8. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0840
- Pácal L, Kuricová K, Kaňková K. Evidence for altered thiamine metabolism in diabetes: Is there a potential to oppose gluco- and lipotoxicity by rational supplementation? World J Diabetes. 2014;5(3):288‐295. doi:10.4239/wjd.v5.i3.288
- PennState Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Vitamin B1 (thiamine). Updated August 6, 2015.
- NIH MedlinePlus. Beriberi. Updated June 28, 2018.
- National Academy of Hypothyroidism. Thyroid and thiamine.
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center: Thiamin.
Sheri Kay has a master's degree in human nutrition. She's the co-author of two books and has been a nutrition and fitness writer since 2004.