Thiamin

Natural Healing and Prevention with Dr. Joseph Russo — By on May 1, 2009 11:50 AM
What is Thiamin?
 
Thiamin or Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, was isolated by researchers in the 1930s and was one of the first compounds to be recognized as a vitamin. This vitamin is critical in the processing of blood sugar (glucose energy from food) into energy that can be used by our bodies.  Without this vitamin we would not be able to utilize the carbohydrates that we eat.
 
What are the causes of Thiamin deficiency?
 
Basically there are four considerations concerning Thiamin deficiency:
 
1.    Decreased intake: which mostly occurs in third world countries. In the USA, alcoholism is the major cause of decreased Thiamin intake.
2.    Increased requirement: Once again any person with intestinal absorption problems, pregnant women, women who breast feed, and adolescents who are experiencing a growth spurt would have an increased requirement. Additionally, for all our Central American and Equatorial Africa  readers, Malarial infection puts a person at risk for a greater need of Thiamin. Also, those persons with chronic diseases such as AIDS and once again alcoholics have decreased absorption in their gut which may lead to increased Thiamin needs.
3.    Excessive losses: Those persons who have kidney failure, who require dialysis and those persons who are on a high dosage of water pills, aka diuretics, could have excessive losses of Thiamin.
4.    Anti-Thiamin factors (ATFs): This category refers to enzymes that are found naturally in some foods which cause the breakdown of Thiamin. For example, consuming large amounts of tea and coffee have been associated with Thiamin depletion due to ATFs. Also, those who consume large amounts of raw freshwater fish and raw shellfish could be at risk because these foods contain ATFs.  In Nigeria, people eat raw silk worms for a protein source. These worms have ATFs, which can precipitate Thiamin deficiency and may result in “seasonal ataxia” or difficulty walking or balancing.
 
What is the daily requirement for Thiamin?


RDA for Thiamin:
 
Adults         males  1.2 mg/day     females 1.1 mg/day
                                                                        
Females breastfeeding/preg   1.4 mg/day
 
How does Thiamin deficiency affect our bodies?
 
Thiamin deficiency can affect various parts of our bodies such as the nervous system, heart, muscles, and extremities. This can be manifested as congestive heart failure, swelling in the legs or ankles, SOB (shortness of breath), difficulty breathing, and an enlarged heart.
Nerve problems that result in a burning feeling in one’s feet, decreased sensation in arms and legs, and muscle pain and weakness are referred to as the disease called “beriberi.”
If the nerve problems, involving your brain, result in abnormal eye movements, balance and walking problems, and mental confusion, then this is referred to as Wernicke’s disease, named after the German neurologist and psychiatrist who discovered these symptoms in 1881. If the symptoms are short term memory loss, then the ailment is called Korsakoff’s disease, after the Russian psychiatrist.  In the early 1900’s researchers noticed an association between the two disorders and when they occur together it is called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. In the USA this combination occurs mostly in alcoholics.  The treatment is, of course, Thiamin.
 
What are the available forms of Thiamin?
 
Thiamin is available in oral and injectable forms.  The most common, commercially available, forms are 20, 50, 100, 250, 500 mg tablets. 
 
Which foods provide a good source of Thiamin?
 
Enriched breads, rice and grains provide reasonable sources of Thiamin. Most foods have some Thiamin content. However the greatest source of Thiamin is found in Wheat Germ. One cup provides a whopping 4.5mg of Thiamin (three times as much as we need in a day!)  The next best food source on the list is Pork, the other white meat, which contains 0.72 mg per 3 oz. Fortified Breakfast cereals also rate with 1 cup providing  0.5 to 2.0mg Thiamin. Breads, whole wheat or white enriched, provide a mere  0.10 mg per cup. The incredible, edible egg has little Thiamin in it, as it weighs in at 0.03mg per one large egg.
 
Is too much Thiamin toxic?

 

The Food and Nutrition Board has not set an upper limit of intake for Thiamin. This is so because there are no documented studies which prove that there are toxic effects with Thiamin supplementation of up to 200mg per day. Yahoo!
In other words, there are no reported toxic effects for anyone consuming 200mg per day or less of Thiamin.
 
What is the skinny on Thiamin?

Eat a balanced diet and take a multivitamin, almost all multivitamins have Thiamin.
 
No oyster soup recipe yet, don’t give up.  Also, the next time you are visiting Nigeria and a local offers you lunch, containing some silk worms, it is in your best interest to decline.
 
Until next time, fly low and avoid the radar! 

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