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Thiamin (B1)

What Is It?

As the first B vitamin to be discovered, thiamin can rightly claim the name of vitamin B1. This nutrient is essential to normal growth and development. It participates in converting the carbohydrates from foods into energy and promotes proper functioning of the heart and nervous systems.

At one time, cases of severe thiamin deficiency were not uncommon in the United States. That changed in the 1940s, when authorities started to require that that any B vitamin removed during grain processing be added back in. Today, vitamin B1 is so widely available in foods that most people get more than enough to satisfy basic requirements. Whole grains and enriched grain products, from cereals to pasta and white rice, now constitute a primary source of thiamin for many Americans. Other excellent food sources include dried beans, nuts, and lean pork.

Nonetheless, there are still groups at risk of developing a thiamin deficiency: older adults and alcoholics in particular. There are also certain ailments for which extra thiamin can be beneficial. For example, thiamin supplements may help to guard against a thiamin deficiency caused by taking diuretics, a standard treatment for congestive heart failure. Thiamin may lessen numbness and tingling in individuals with diabetes and other disorders that can cause nerve damage. Thiamin has shown promise in treating a number of other disorders, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

Because it works synergistically with other B vitamins, it’s best to get thiamin as part of a B-complex supplement rather than on its own.

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with thiamin.


Consult your doctor before taking thiamin supplements to treat a medical or psychiatric condition.

There are no side effects associated with commonly recommended dosages of thiamin; the body efficiently flushes out any excess through urine. However, extremely high oral doses can cause drowsiness.

It’s best to take thiamin with meals because the stomach acid produced to digest the food helps the absorption of the vitamin.


Congestive Heart Failure 200 mg a day
Heartburn 500 mg every morning

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