Vitamin B1 – Thiamine
B Complex Vitamin
Vitamin B1 is known as the "morale" vitamin because of its dramatic effect on our nervous system and our mood. Besides supporting the nervous system, it aids in carbohydrate metabolism, enhances our immune system, wards off mosquitoes, helps develop red blood cells, maintains muscle tissue, promotes growth in children and helps control motion sickness. A synthetic version is added to white flour in America in order to ward off beriberi, but it is better to consume the natural form in whole grains. Because thiamin helps with carbohydrate metabolism, it makes energy available for the body, including the brain. So if you are not getting enough thiamine, you may not be feeding your brain enough glucose for it to think well.
Extra Thiamine Requirements
If you are pregnant or nursing, use oral contraceptives, cigarettes or diuretics, you will need more vitamin B1. Those with diets high in refined foods, too much sugar and junk foods and/or alcohol will also have higher requirements for thiamine. Last, but not least, heavy metal pollutants like mercury and stress also use up thiamine in the body and will increase your need for it.
Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin B1
Fatigue and insomnia, poor memory, brain function and muscle coordination, headaches, weakness and confusion. Insufficient thiamin has also been linked to mood changes, disorderly thinking, fear and feelings of uneasiness – all signs of mental depression that can often affect memory as well. Beriberi is a disease that can develop from a severe deficiency of B1, and is characterized by weakness, limb swelling and heart enlargement. It affects the nervous, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems.
Food Sources of Vitamin B1
Nutritional yeast, whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice and oatmeal, rice bran, watermelon, asparagus and fresh peas, pork, including ham and beef, legumes, nuts and seeds like sesame seeds.