Vitamin B1: The Energising Nutrient You Don’t Want to Miss


Vitamin B1 also known as thiamine, is an essential nutrient that keeps your body firing on all cylinders. As part of the B-vitamin family, thiamine plays a vital role in converting the food you eat into cellular energy that powers every aspect of your health and well-being. Not getting enough of this energising vitamin can take a major toll. B1 is a water soluble vitamin and only a small amount can be stored by the body. This means that it is essential that we eat sufficient in our diet each day.

Benefits of thiamine:

Thiamine has many important roles in the human body:

Energy production:  it’s a key helper in converting carbohydrates into ATP, the fuel that energises our cells. Low thiamine levels can lead to fatigue and weakness.

Brain function: thiamine aids brain and nerve cell health and is required to synthesise acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter crucial for memory and cognition.

Heart health: studies link thiamine deficiency to an increased risk of heart disease and heart failure.

Nervous system: thiamine is essential for proper nerve and muscle function. Deficiency can cause nerve damage, muscle weakness and pain.

Recommended daily Allowance:

1.0 mg/day for men

0.8 mg/day for women

Thiamine Food Sources:

Pork loin                      – 0.9 mg per 3 oz serving

Seeds and Nuts           – 0.4 – 0.8 mg per 1 oz

Green Peas                  – 0.4 mg per 3.5 oz serving

Bread                          – 0.2 mg per 2 slices

Pasta – uncooked        – 0.4 mg per 3.5 oz

Cooked brown rice     – 0.4 mg per 3.5 oz

Black beans                 – 0.2 mg per 3.5 oz cooked beans

People who follow highly restrictive diets, vegans or those with excessive alcohol intake or have any conditions which might affect absorption of nutrients may struggle to get adequate thiamine through diet alone.

Symptoms of Deficiency:

It’s important to note that Vitamin B1 deficiency is rare. When it does occur, in the early stages, even mild deficiency can cause fatigue, irritability, poor appetite, and abdominal discomfort. If it progresses, more severe symptoms can develop including weight loss, neurological problems such as numbness, muscle weakness and confusion. Deficiency can also lead to heart problems. A more severe deficiency often seen with alcohol abuse cases is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which may lead to confusion, loss of muscle coordination, and peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the hands and feet causing numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, balance and coordination. muscle weakness).

Getting adequate thiamine through a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is crucial for maintaining abundant energy levels, a healthy nervous system, and overall metabolic function. This often-overlooked B vitamin packs an energising punch!


Role of thiamine in energy production: Depeint, F., et al. (2006). Mitochondrial function and toxicity: role of the B vitamin family on mitochondrial energy metabolism. Chemico-biological interactions, 163(1-2), 94-112.

Thiamine and brain/nervous system function: Hajjar, I., et al. (2012). Thiamine deficiency and delirium. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, 27(1), 67-71.

Symptoms of thiamine deficiency: Latt, N. and Dore, G. (2014). Thiamine in the treatment of Wernicke encephalopathy in patients with alcohol use disorders. Internal medicine journal, 44(9), 911-915.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: Isenberg-Grzeda, E., et al. (2014). Wernicke-Korsakoff-syndrome under the microscope part 2. Neuropsychology Review, 24(2), 210-226.