Vitamin Bl is needed for energy production, particularly in the muscles, including those of the heart. By maintaining the health of the nervous system, it helps to combat disorders if the nerves, such as neuritis, and psychological problems, such as depression, as well as difficulties with memory and learning. lt may also help to protect against arthritis. Vitamin Bl is needed for normal growth in childhood, and for fertility in adult life. In older people it is thought to protect against the development of cataracts.
Availability In Food
|Try not to overcook seafood to minimize the loss of vitamin B1|
Vitamin B1 is present in many foods, including whole grains and whole-grain products, sunflower seeds, pork, seafood and beans.
However, it can be lost in cooking, especially when food is boiled or steamed. Intake can be undesirably low if the diet contains too much refined food, such as white flour, rice and sugar.
What if your intake is too low?
Symptoms of Vitamin B1 deficiency include fatigue, irritability, mental confusion, forgetfulness and depression. Physically, the nervous system can be damaged and this can cause tingling and numbness in the limbs, as well as weakness and paralysis.
Serious deficiency is unlikely in people who live in developed countries, but it can result in the potentially fatal disease beri-beri, the principal symptoms of which are neuritis and heart failure. Little vitamin B1 is stored in the body so foods that contain it should be eaten every day.
When extra may be needed
(Pregnant and breastJeeding women should consult a doctor, midwife, or qualified nutritional therapist bifore taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.
- If you are taking the birth-control pill, diuretics (water pills), digoxin (for heart failure), antacids (for indigestion), or receiving hormone replacement therapy
|Sunflower seeds - a snack full of vitamin B1|
- If you are on a calorie-restricted diet for any reason. This includes slimmers and older people with small appetites
- If you regularly consume moderate or large amounts of alcohol
- If you suffer from depression or anxiety
- If you pass large volumes of urine
- After surgery or an injury
- During and after an infection
- To prevent air or sea sickness
Can too much be toxic?
Vitamin B 1 is relatively non-toxic and any excess is normally excreted through the kidneys and skin. However, taking large supplements long term (more than 3g a day in an adult) can cause toxicity in the long term.
Using a supplement
If you wish to take a supplement, Vitamin B1 is best taken as part of a balanced B-vitamin tablet or capsule, unless your doctor or nutritional health practitioner advises otherwise.
|In addition to vitamins, beans provide fibre, which may help to protect against colon cancer|
Vitamin B1 and Alcohol
Moderate and heavy drinkers often eat poor diets either because they obtain most of their calories from alcohol or because too much of their money is spent on alcohol.
They are particularly likely to suffer from vitamin B1 deficiency, even if they also eat a good, balanced diet, because the vitamin B1 they consume is of limited use, as alcohol interferes with the way that the vitamin is absorbed into the body from the intestine.
Insufficient vitamin B1 is then available for one of its most important protective roles, which is to break down alcohol into its safe components of carbon dioxide and water, so that it can easily be discharged from the body.
If alcohol cannot be broken down, the body may not be able to withstand its toxic effects and alcohol poisoning can result. The symptoms of vitamin B 1 deficiency may also contribute to the anxiety and confusion often experienced by those who regularly drink too much alcohol.
Avoiding Insect Bites
Vitamin B 1 is beneficial in many ways, but has an added bonus: it is excreted through the skin and its smell is thought to repel certain biting insects, including mosquitoes and fleas.