Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 is part of the complex of B vitamins which act as coenzymes. We’ve all heard the term “coenzyme” but what does it mean? Well, let’s put this into a more logical order:

  • An enzyme is “a protein, produced in cells, that acts as a catalyst speeding up the rate of biological reactions without itself being used up”.
  • A coenzyme is “a non-protein substance (sometimes a vitamin) that functions to aid the action of an enzyme”. 1

Simply put, a coenzyme is a helper that assists enzymes with making any number of very important things happen in the body. For example, B vitamins help to maintain the health of the nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver and mouth, as well as healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and proper brain function. 2

The Functions of Vitamin B1 in the Body

Enhanced Circulation
Anyone with cardiovascular issues will benefit from taking extra vitamin B1. B1 enhances circulation and is required by the body to keep muscles of the heart properly toned. If you suffer with cold feet and hands, B1 might be a good addition to your supplement regimen to promote proper blood circulation to peripheral parts of your body.

Assists with Blood Formation
Living with anemia (CLICK HERE to read the full article on anemia) can pose a myriad of health concerns on its own. Adding extra vitamin B1 to your daily supplements assists with the formation of all necessary elements in your blood. This can also be helpful for women who suffer with heavy periods (lack of iron) or people who have weakened immune systems (white blood cells).

Assists with Carbohydrate Metabolism
If you’re trying to lose weight, extra B1 in your diet can help your body metabolize and break down carbohydrates. This also helps increase your energy levels so that you can exercise longer and more efficiently. Better use of carbs by your body also helps with fatigue and brain function.

Production of Hydrochloric Acid
Your stomach breaks down your food with the assistance of hydrochloric acid. Vitamin B1 assists in the production of this stomach acid. Without it, digestion and absorption would suffer and your body would not have access to the nutrients it needs to function at optimal capacity. B1 is also important in maintaining the muscle tone of your stomach and intestines.

Optimizes Cognitive Activity and Brain Function
Many of the symptoms of menopause include cognition and brain function difficulties, including memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, disorientation and mental confusion. Supplementing with vitamin B1 can help you with all these symptoms as you progress through menopause.

B1 can also help seniors who live with memory and cognitive issues. B1 has a positive effect on energy levels which can help seniors with their mobility, which in turn helps them with cognitive issues; the more you get out and move around, the more your brain has to process new information. B1 also helps protect against the overall degenerative effects of aging.

Children who have problems learning/concentrating in school or on their homework may see benefits from the addition of additional foods rich in B1 to their diet.

Signs of a Vitamin B1 Deficiency

  • Constipation
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • GI disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Pain and sensitivity
  • Poor coordination
  • Tingling sensations
  • Weak and sore muscles
  • General weakness
  • Severe weight loss

Food Sources of Vitamin B1

Great sources: garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, brown rice, legumes, egg yolks, fish, liver, peanuts, pork, poultry.

Other sources: asparagus, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, oatmeal, plums and raisins.

Conditions Which May Benefit from Taking Vitamin B1

Diabetes and Benfotiamine
Hyperglycemia (higher than normal amounts of glucose in the blood) causes damage in the blood vessels and nerves of the body, which in turn develop into the major complications of diabetes. Excess glucose in the blood is deposited in nerve cells and small blood vessels, causing damage in these areas.

Benfotiamine is a fat-soluble, man-made form of water-soluble B1. Being fat-soluble, it is better used and absorbed by the body. There is some evidence that suggests Benfotiamine may help relieve certain diabetic complications resulting from the hyperglycemia such as retinopathy (disease of the retina), nephropathy (disease/damage affecting the kidneys) and neuropathy (disease/dysfunction of peripheral nerves). 3

Gastrointestinal Disturbances
As mentioned above, vitamin B1 helps maintain the muscle tone of the intestines. This ensures that intestines function effectively, moving your food along their length. When intestines function properly there should be no problems with absorption of food and water, production of other vitamins and/or constipation/diarrhea. B1 helps produce hydrochloric acid, responsible for digesting the majority of your food while still in your stomach. Without this acid, your food would pass, undigested, into your intestines making it unusable by the rest of your body.

Nutter’s Can Suggest…

Vitamin B1 may be in short supply in your diet due to foods that lack it due to processing as cooking also removes it, diets high in fats and sugar, the overuseof alcohol or dieting and fasting.

Vitamin B1 is reputed to be a mosquito and insect repellent when 100 mg or more is taken daily. Vitamin B1 may improve digestive muscle tone, and even improve dental post-operative and dry socket pain and healing. Vitamin C has been included because it has a positive synergistic effect with all the other B vitamins.


1. Barron’s Dictionary of Medical Terms
2. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fourth Edition, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
3. Can Benfotiamine Treat Complications of Diabetes?

Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.

The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.

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