Thiamin—Vitamin B1

About half of thiamin is found in skeletal muscle. Beriberi, more common in the 19th century, is a thiamin deficiency disease caused by a diet of highly polished rice, where the thiamin-rich husk is removed.  Deficiency appears in alcoholics, those with malabsorption syndromes, and in long-term use of loop diuretics.


  • Involved in metabolism of the branched-chain amino acids
  • Acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-atherosclerosis agent
  • Modulates mood and cognition
  • Protects kidneys and liver from lead-induced lipid peroxidation
  • Energy production
  • Carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism


  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Weight loss
  • Emotional disorders
  • Weakness and pain in the limbs
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • Irreversible psychosis


  • Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, oatmeal, while grains
  • Nuts, dried beans and peas
  • Spinach and cauliflower
  • Organ meats, pork, fish, poultry
  • Spinach and cauliflower

Subclinical thiamin deficiency may be more common than expected, and might appear as abnormal glucose tolerance.  Thiamin’s anti-oxidant properties have not been elucidated, but the brain damage associated with thiamin deficit indicates oxidative stress. Absorption of the nutrient is impeded by the tannins in coffee and tea, but may be offset by taking vitamin C. Some supplements used to treat osteoporosis, such as horsetail, can destroy thiamin in the stomach and lead to signs of thiamin deficiency, as can diseases such as Crohn’s, celiac, colitis, and diverticulitis.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.