Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vitamin B1 aka Thiamine

My original intent was to have one post on the B Vitamins, however, there is so much pertinent information it would be a ridiculously long post.  Instead, I am going to break the post into individuals.  Since there are 8 B vitamins, this will be a multi-part series! All of the B vitamins are used to metabolize food and fuel the body. They also help maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly, and are needed for good brain function.

Vitamin B1

What is it?
The common name for this one is Thiamine.  Whenever we don’t have B1, it actually causes detrimental health effects since it is essential in the formation of neurotransmitters acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).  Acetylcholine is used in your Peripheral Nervous System in receptors called Nicotinic Receptors.  I know, now you're thinking about Cigarettes and Nicotine.  Well, you're not that far off the mark.  While the Nicotinic Receptors respond to acetylcholine, they also respond to nicotine (hence the name).  This type of receptor is important for cognitive functions in your brain such as attention, learning, and memory since Acetylcholine reinforces your brain’s ability to detect and respond to meaningful stimuli.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in mature individuals and is mainly linked to its role in changing the electrochemical gradient in cells (making them more or less negative depending on the situation).  This can help out greatly in the regulation of muscle tone.
In a developing brain, GABA helps stem cells to spread and form into specific types, and also assists in the formation of synapses.

Where Can you get it? - According to

#1: Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) Good news for you Brits.
Marmite provides 9.7mg (647% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 0.5mg (39% DV) per teaspoon. 100g is a bit excessive, but a couple tsp a day seems reasonable.

#2: Sesame Butter (Tahini) and Seeds
In asian cuisine, ground sesame seeds is referred to as tahini.  It is one of the main ingredients when making hummus. 100 grams of tahini will give you 1.6mg (106% DV) of vitamin B1 or 0.2mg (15% DV) per tablespoon. Roasted sesame seeds only give 0.1mg/tbsp (7.5% DV).

#3: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds give you 1.48mg of vitamin B1 in a 100g serving (99% DV). That is about 6% of the DV for two tablespoons of sunflower seeds.

#4: Dried Herbs and Spices
Dried coriander leaves provide 2% DV per tablespoon.
Poppy Seeds give you 57% DV per 100g
Dried Sage gives 50% DV per 100g
Paprika has 43% DV per 100g
Mustard Seed give you 36% DV per 100g
Rosemary gives you 34% DV per 100g
Thyme will give you 34% DV per 100g

#5 Pork Chops
A 100 gram serving will provide 1.2mg (83% DV) of thiamin

#6: Pine Nuts
Pine nuts provide 1.2mg (83% DV) in a 100 gram serving, or around 1% DV in 10 nuts.

#7: Pistachios
100 grams of pistachios provides 0.87mg of thiamin (B1) or 58% DV. That is 0.24mg or 16% of the DV per ounce.

#8: Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts provide 0.7mg (47% DV) of vitamin B1 per 100 gram serving, or 0.2mg (13% DV) per ounce.

#9: Fish
Pompano provides 0.68mg (45% DV) of thiamin (B1) in a 100 gram serving
Tuna fish provides 0.5 mg (33% DV) per 100 gram serving.

#10: Pecans
Pecans provide 0.66mg (44% DV) of vitamin B1 per 100 gram serving, or 0.19mg (12% DV) per ounce.

How Much do you Need?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily intake of vitamin B1 is as follows:

Newborns - 6 months: 0.2 mg (adequate intake)
Infants 7 months - 1 year: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
Children 1 - 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
Children 4 - 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
Children 9 - 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
Men 14 - 18 years: 1.2 mg (RDA)
Women 14 - 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)

Men 19 years and older: 1.2 mg (RDA)
Women 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 1.4 mg (RDA)

What Happens if you don't have enough?

There are a lot of conditions that stem from vitamin B1 deficincy, but I'll just quickly summarize here:

Beriberi - Sounds funny, but it is actually quite serious.  There are 3 categories, but we'll just focus on the wet and dry.
Dry beriberi causes impairment of sensory, motor, and reflex functions, while the wet beriberi causes mental confusion, muscular atrophy, edema, tachycardia, cardiomegaly, and congestive heart failure in addition to peripheral neuropathy.  Fortunately, this condition can be reversed by bringing your vitamin B1 levels back up.

Alcoholic Brain Disease
This is a neuro-psychiatric disorder characterized by paralysis of eye movements, abnormal stance and gait, and markedly deranged mental function

What happens if you have too much?
So far as we know, there is no adverse effect to consuming too much vitamin B1.  The excess amount is simply excreted in the urine.

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