Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is an essential nutrient found in many foods.

It plays an important role in maintaining good health and is necessary for the proper functioning of the body’s metabolism.

Thiamine helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy, aids in nerve and muscle function and helps the body produce red blood cells.

It also helps to keep the heart, eyes and muscles healthy.

It can be found in many foods, including whole grains, fortified cereals, pork, beef, eggs, nuts, beans and peas.

Vitamin B1 can also be found in supplements and multivitamins.

It is recommended that adults consume 1.1 to 1.2 mg of vitamin B1 per day.

It is important to get enough vitamin B1 in your diet, as its deficiency can lead to fatigue, depression, confusion and other health problems.

If left untreated, thiamine deficiency can lead to more serious conditions such as beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Foods Sources of Thiamine

It’s found in a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Whole grains: Brown rice, wheat germ, oats, quinoa and barley.
  • Legumes: Lentils, beans, peanuts and peas.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds and cashews.
  • Fortified foods: Some breakfast cereals, breads and pastas fortified with thiamine.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Asparagus, oranges, cantaloupe, spinach and tomatoes.
  • Meats and poultry: Pork, beef, chicken and egg yolks.

It’s important to get enough of this vitamin in your diet to ensure optimal health.

Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of these foods can help you get the thiamine you need.

Health Benefits of Thiamine

The most notable benefit of vitamin B1 is its role in energy production. It helps the body turn carbohydrates into energy, which is necessary for cells to function properly.

It is also important for proper brain and nerve function, as well as muscle growth and development.

Also, thiamine helps the body metabolise proteins and fats, making it an essential nutrient for a healthy diet.

It has been found to be beneficial in reducing the risk of certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s (dementia).

It can help to reduce stress, fatigue and depression.

Other benefits of vitamin B1 include improved digestion, better skin health and increased immunity.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

The daily recommended intake of thiamine is as follows:

Adults: 1.2 mg per day for men and 1.1 mg per day for women.

Pregnant women: The daily recommended intake increases to 1.4 mg per day.

Lactating women: It increases to 1.5 mg per day.

Symptoms of Thiamine Deficiency

Thiamine deficiency, also known as beriberi, is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin B1 in the body.

It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, confusion, memory loss and heart problems.

Here is a list of common symptoms of this deficiency:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abnormal eye reflexes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as cardiac beriberi
  • Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating


Causes of thiamine deficiency can include:

Poor Diet: A diet low in thiamine-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and whole grains can lead to thiamine deficiency.

Alcoholism: Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb thiamine, leading to a deficiency.

Gastrointestinal Problems: Certain gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb thiamine.

Dialysis: Dialysis can reduce thiamine levels in the body.

Certain Medical Treatments: Some medications, such as diuretics and chemotherapy drugs, can interfere with the absorption of thiamine.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at risk for thiamine deficiency due to the increased demands for thiamine during pregnancy.


Diagnosis of vitamin B1 deficiency is usually done through a physical exam and blood tests.

The physical exam can include checking for signs of weakness, weight loss and swelling in the limbs.

Blood tests can measure levels of thiamine in your body and can also look for other markers of deficiency, such as anemia.

Additional tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be needed to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.


Treatment for vitamin B1 deficiency usually involves taking thiamine supplements and eating a balanced diet that includes thiamine-rich foods, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

In severe cases, intravenous thiamine may be administered.

It is important to seek medical advice if you suspect you may have a vitamin B1 deficiency.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, vitamin B1 deficiency can be addressed and managed effectively.

Genetics and Thiamine Deficiency

Studies have shown that some people are more likely to develop the condition due to genetic variations in their thiamine metabolism.

These variations can slow down the absorption of thiamine from food or limit the availability of vitamin B1 in the body, leading to its deficiency.

If you are at risk for thiamine deficiency due to genetic factors, it is important to make sure you get enough thiamine through your diet or through supplementation.

It is also important to talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms of thiamine deficiency.


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Sources: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, NIH, Medical News Today, MSD Manual, WebMD, Linus Pauling Institute, National Library of Medicine (1, 2, 3), PubMed and TRCI.

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