VITAMIN B1 (Thiamin or Thiamine)

pumpkinseedsThis was the first vitamin isolated in the 1930’s, a water-soluble B vitamin that is found in the body as free thiamin or in phosphorylated forms:

   – TMP (thiamin monophosphate)

   – TTP (thiamin triphosphate)

   – TPP (thiamin pyrophosphate also known as thiamin diphosphate).


To make TPP from thiamine requires magnesium, ATP, and the enzyme thiamin pyrophosphokinase.

Thiamin is used by cells to help make energy from food, with TPP being a key cofactor for the key dehydrogenase enzymes:

   – pyruvate dehydrogenase

   – alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase

   – branch chain ketoacid dehydrogenase


These dehydrogenase enzymes also require niacin, riboflavin and lipoic acid in these complex and important biochemical reactions.

Transketolase is another thiamine dependent enzyme important in the synthesis of:

    – ATP (adenosine triphosphate)

    – GTP (guanosine triphosphate)

    – DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

    – RNA (Ribonucleic acid)

    – NADP (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate)


Clearly, this is a very important nutrient (vitamin). In addition to the above enzyme function roles, thiamin triphosphate (TTP) is located in large quantities in nerve and muscle cell membranes where it plays a key role in nerve impulses and muscle contraction and acetylcholine synthesis. Obviously this is a nutrient you would not want to be deficient in. 



Gastrointestinal: Loss of appetite, nausea, constipation with fatigue, and irritability are the earliest signs of Thiamin deficiency. These are followed by mental confusion, weakness, loss of eye coordination, and loss of fine motor skills. 

-Beriberi is the classical severe thiamine deficiency disorder, affecting  nervous, muscular, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular systems.

Nervous: Peripheral neuropathy (burning feet, decreased sensation, exaggerated reflexes, muscle pain, and weakness):

-Wernicke Encephalopathy: Abnormal eye movements, stance and gait problems, confusion and memory issues (usually alcoholic induced).

-Korsakoff’s Psychosis is often in conjunction with Wernicke’s and refers to the poor brain function. 

Cardiovascular: Rapid heart rate, edema, and trouble breathing due to congestive heart failure.

Most deficiency is found in those with poor diets (those with highly milled white rice or wheat without the germ), alcoholics, and those with high additional requirements like HIV or chronic malaria. There are increased requirements during times of extreme exercise, pregnancy, adolescent growth spurts, for those needing dialysis, or with less absorption due to stomach stapling or surgery. 



Fish, pork, nuts, seeds (sunflower, chia, pumpkin, squash), yeasts, wheat germ, rice bran, legumes (peas, beans, soybeans, lentils), squash.



There is no known toxic dose of this water soluble vitamin.

RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) 

   – Infants                                             0.3 mg/day

   – Children 1-9 years                           0.6 mg/day

   – Teens/ Adults                                   1.2 mg/day     

   – Pregnancy/breast-feeding                1.4 mg/day

This is such an important nutrient and so available if you eat from the above food groups.  Just be sure you are consistently getting a handful of nuts or seeds and a serving of legumes. A teaspoon of wheat germ in your cereal or smoothie will also do the trick. This vitamin will also be included in most multivitamins or any B-complex. 


Dr. Paul





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