Vitamin B1 - Thiamine - For Calm Nerves

Vitamin B1 or thiamine, as it is more commonly referred to now, is one of the most important members of the B group of vitamins. Also known as aneurin, vitamin B1 is anti-beriberi and anti-neuritic. It is water soluble.

Vitamin B1 in the form of thiamine hydrochloride, is a white crystalline powder with a yeast like odour and a saltish taste. It is readily soluble in water and slightly soluble in alcohol. In dry form, this vitamin is very stable and not sensitive to atmospheric oxidation or deterioration. However, is a soluble form, it is destroyed soon.

Heat applied in cooking destroys this vitamin. The loss is significant when vegetables are cooked in excessive water is thrown away afterwards. The addition of sodium carbonate (cooking soda) in some vegetables further increases the destruction of this vitamin. Thiamine is well retained in cereals, since they are generally cooked slowly and at moderate temperatures; the cooking water is also retained. Baked products lose about 15% of their original thiamine. Generally the losses in cooking meat are greater than in cooking other foods, ranging from 20% to 50% of the raw value. Other destroyers of thiamine are caffeine, alcohol, food-processing methods, and sulphur drugs.

Thiamine is absorbed from the small intestine. The capacity of the human intestine to absorb this vitamin is limited to about 5 mg per day. Thiamine undergoes a change in the intestinal mucosa. Approximately 25mg to 30mg are stored in this changed form in he body. Large amounts of thiamine are present in the skeletal muscles, heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. This vitamin cannot, however, be stored to any large extent in the human body. So an adequate daily intake is necessary. Any excess supply of thiamine is excreted in the urine.

Recommended Daily Allowance - Vitamin B1
Men 1.3 mg
Women 1.0 mg
Children 1.1 mg
Infants 50 mcg

Vitamin B1 Benefits - Functions in the body

Thiamine promotes growth, protects the heart muscle, and stimulates brain action. It plays an important role in the normal functioning of the entire nervous system. It aids digestion, especially of carbohydrates. It has a mild diuretic effect: that is, it increases urine formation. This vitamin improves peristalsis and helps to prevent constipation. It also helps to maintain the normal red blood count, improves circulation, and promotes a healthy skin. It protects against the damaging effect of lead poisoning, and prevents oedema or fluid retention in connection with heart ailments. It also reduces fatigue, increases stamina, and prevents premature ageing and senility by increasing mental alertness. Like other vitamins of the B complex group, it is more potent when combined with other B vitamins rather than when used separately.

Vitamin B1 Deficiency Symptoms

A lack of sufficient thiamine in the diet can cause loss of appetite, poor digestion, chronic constipation, loss of weight, mental depression, nervous exhaustion, and insomnia. It can lead to muscular weakness, leg cramps, slow heartbeat, irritability, defective hydrochloric acid production in the stomach and consequent digestive disorders. In case of insufficient supply of thiamine in the body, the heart muscles become lazy and fatigued, and the auricles or the upper chambers of the heart lose their strength and gradually enlarge. This may lead tto a condition known as hypertrophy of the heart. Prolonged gross deficiency can cause beriberi, neuritis, and oedema. Lack of vitamin B1, can slow down circulation to the scalp to the extent that hair may fall and new hair may grow very slowly. Deficiency of thiamine can be induced by excessive use of alcohol, dietary sugar, and processed and refined foods.

Vitamin B1 Sources

Wholegrain cereals, especially wheat, rice, and oats, are generally considered to be the best sources of thiamine. Thiamine is usually found in the germ and outer layers. However, when these grains are highly refined, for example, as white flour and polished rice, the amount of thiamine is considerably reduced. Legumes such as soya beans and Bengal gram are good sources of thiamine. Other good sources of this vitamin are vegetables such as dry lotus stems, capsicum, turnip greens, and best greens; fruits such as apricots and pineapples; nuts such as groundnuts, pistachio nuts, and mustard seeds; and animal foods like pork, sheep liver, and mutton.

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