Presse Santé

Vitamin B1: Focusing on one of the essential soldiers for our health.

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Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in certain foods, or in supplement form or even industrially accepted in foods. Thiamine plays an essential role in the growth and function of various cells.

Although the symptoms of thiamine deficiency were first recorded in ancient Chinese medicine texts, they were not linked to diet until the late 19th century. In 1884, a Japanese doctor found very high rates of illness and death among Japanese sailors who had been at sea for months on a rice-restricted diet.

When they were given a more varied diet of whole grains, meats, beans, and vegetables, rates of illness and death virtually dropped. Around the same time, two Dutch scientists observed that chickens fed polished white rice developed leg paralysis, while chickens fed unpolished brown rice did not. His observations led to the discovery of the presence of thiamin in the outer layers of rice that were removed during polishing.

What is the usual recommended amount?

RDI: The Recommended Daily Intake (RDA) for men over the age of 19 is 1.2 mg per day, and for women of the same age, 1.1 mg per day. While for women during pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 1.4 mg per day.

UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the maximum daily dose that is not likely to cause adverse side effects in the general population. There is no AMT for thiamine due to a lack of reports showing negative effects of high thiamine intake.

Vitamin B1: A cell enhancer par excellence.

Due to its involvement in several basic cellular functions and in the breakdown of nutrients into energy. A deficiency can lead to various brain and heart problems that require a constant supply of energy.

food sources:

Thiamine is found naturally in meat, fish, and whole grains. It is also added to breads, cereals, and infant formulas.

  • Fortified cereals for breakfast.
  • Pork.
  • Fish.
  • Beans, lentils.
  • Green peas.
  • Fortified cereals, breads, noodles, rice.
  • Pipes.
  • Yogurt.

Signs of deficiency and toxicity.


A thiamin deficiency is rare, as most people reach their RDAs through food. However, it may be the result of a low intake of thiamine-containing foods, decreased absorption from the intestine, or increased loss in the urine. As in the case of alcohol abuse or certain drugs such as diuretics.

More severe thiamine deficiency can lead to beriberi, which causes muscle loss and decreased sensation in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). Because beriberi affects reflexes and motor function, it can eventually lead to a fatal buildup of fluid in the heart and lower extremities.

Another consequence of severe thiamine deficiency that is often seen with alcohol abuse is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This neurodegenerative disease can cause confusion, loss of muscle coordination, and peripheral neuropathy. Incidentally, both types of deficiency are also seen in cases of gastrointestinal disorders. Like celiac disease or bariatric surgery, or in people with HIV/AIDS. Treatment consists of high-dose supplements or intravenous injections, along with a balanced diet.

Symptoms that appear in case of mild to moderate deficiency:

  • Weightloss
  • Confusion, memory loss.
  • muscular weakness
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • decreased immunity


You are unlikely to reach a toxic level of thiamin from dietary sources alone. In case of very high intakes, the body will absorb less of this nutrient and will eliminate the excess through the urine. There is no established level of toxicity for thiamin.

did you know

Thiamine is destroyed by cooking at high temperatures or by long cooking times. This infiltrates the water and will be lost in the cooking or soaking water that will be discarded. It can also be removed during food processing, as in the case of refined white bread and rice. This is why thiamin is fortified or added to many breads, cereals, and grains that have been processed.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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