Thiamin is also known as vitamin B1. Historically it may have been the first vitamin to be discovered. Around 2600 BC the symptoms of thiamin deficiency were described in Chinese literature. Thiamin deficiency, or beriberi as it was commonly called, became a more frequent problem in some communities when white flour and polished rice were first introduced. Milling brown rice removes thiamin from the grain along with the fibrous outer layer of the grains of rice.
Symptoms of beriberi can include:
- rapid ‘fluttery’ heart rate;
- enlarged heart;
- edema or swelling of the extremities,
- heart and lungs leading to breathing problems and eventually congestive heart failure; burning painful feet;
- muscle weakness and pain;
- Wernicke encephalopathy or Korsakoff psychosis are symptoms that may occur with more severe B1 deficiencies and which can include mental changes.
Chronic alcoholics and anorexic or other malnourished people are more at risk for thiamin deficiency. Malaria and HIV may increase need for thiamin due to the infected cell’s increased use of the nutrient. Renal patients on dialysis may need extra thiamin due to increased loss. The nutrient is fairly widely available and deficiencies are not typically found in people of average health with reasonably varied diets.
Food Sources of Thiamin include: fortified flour or rice, whole grains, lean pork, beans, nuts, nutritional yeast, eggs, cantaloupe, green vegetables.
Reference for more information:
- An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals: Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations, 2nd Ed., by J. Higdon & V. Drake, (Thieme, Stuttgart / New York, 2012) [Amazon]
/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health care provider for individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment./
Thiamin: people with anorexia or alcoholism are more at risk for vitamin B1 deficiency by Jenny