Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is one of the eight vitamins that make up the powerful Vitamin B complex. Like all of the B vitamins, this nutrient plays a great role in the health of the body and the health of the mind. Care should be taken to maintain the recommended daily intake levels of this essential nutrient, as the results of deficiencies can be devastating in nature.
Vitamin B1 serves many purposes in the body. It is an essential part of converting carbohydrates to energy, and necessary to the proper functioning of the nervous system, the heart and the musculature system of the body. Thiamine is very important to the brain, particularly in terms of emotional health and well being, as well as being useful for focus and concentration.
There are a variety of physical conditions and diseases associated with deficiencies in Vitamin B1. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling in the extremities, muscle weakness and a lack of physical coordination, particularly in the larger muscle masses that make up the leg muscles.
A deficiency in thiamine can cause enlargement of the heart, which can itself lead to congestive heart failure, and lung congestion. A severe deficiency in Vitamin B1 can lead to nerve damage, brain damage and even death. Mental symptoms associated with a serious lack of Vitamin B include fatigue, psychosis, and confusion.
These are a few serious diseases specifically associated with a deficiency of Vitamin B1, including the notorious beriberi disease. There are also two specific types of brain damage associated with severely low levels of Vitamin B1. One, Korsakoff syndrome, results in confusion and short term memory loss. Another, Wernicke’s Disease has symptoms that include vision disturbances and irregularities, an unsteady walk, and mental confusion.
Despite the obvious importance of Vitamin B1 to many of the body’s important functions, a great deal of people regularly fail to meet the recommended daily intake levels. Alcoholics are particularly vulnerable to being deficient in Vitamin B1, because alcohol ruins the B vitamins.
Illnesses that force bodily fluids from the body, such as chronic diarrhea, can deplete the body’s levels of thiamine, because it is a water-soluble vitamin and the body needs to have its supply renewed every day. There are also rare conditions that interfere with the body’s ability to use Vitamin B1 properly.
Dietary supplements are an affordable, safe and effective way to consistently meet the recommended daily intake levels of Vitamin B1.
It is especially important, however, when taking supplements to use them with care and attention, because taking too much Vitamin B1 can cause adverse side effects and even serious health problems. As with all substances, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
While there are certain health situations that do call for higher than average doses of this powerful B vitamin, high dosages should only be taken while under the direct care of a qualified health care professional. Like any other medication or dietary supplement, Vitamin B1 supplements should always be kept well out of the reach of children.