Thiamin: people with anorexia or alcoholism are more at risk for vitamin B1 deficiency

Thiamin (also called Thiamine or vitamin B1):

thiaminFood Sources of Thiamin (vitamin B1) include:
  • fortified flour or rice, whole grains;
  • lean pork, fish, eggs;
  • nutritional yeast;
  • cantaloupe;
  • acorn squash, asparagus, green vegetables;
  • beans, green peas;
  • nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seed kernels & other edible seeds including flax, sesame & chia.
Thiamin or vitamin B1 may have been the first vitamin to be discovered.

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 (Thiamin deficiency) 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.
Deficiency of Thiamin is rare except with severe malnourishment or increased needs:

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.

Reference used for food sources & symptoms of Thiamin deficiency:
Additional Reference used for Food Sources of Thiamin:

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Pollution risks are shared around the world

I may try to be funny at times but I don’t joke about health or the impact the environment can have on health. Our nation’s future deserves to be protected by all of us including our elected officials. A clean supply of air, water and food is necessary for current and future generations of humans and other life. Pollution is damaging to both our health and our property.Not only our health is at risk but our grandchildren’s children can be negatively impacted by today’s pollutants. Small changes in genetic structure can occur in the eggs that are developing within a female fetus during the prenatal time. Those small changes can reduce the health of the child and be replicated in the child’s children. Protecting pregnant women from stress and harsh chemicals not only helps their babies but it also helps protect the babies’ future children. [1]

Ignoring pollution risks the future of life on the planet. Humans are not the only species suffering from chronic disease and illness. [11] This land is not only our land. Humans are unlikely to thrive on a planet with few other lifeforms. The chemicals that we spread on farm fields or city parks or that we wash airplanes with add toxins to the ground water and eventually pollutants show up in the oceans.

Excess carbon dioxide from combustion is sequestered from air pollution by the minerals dissolved in ocean waters but the buffering capacity is not unlimited. Acidity levels are rising in the oceans. [2,3]

Life and ships may not thrive for long in increasingly acidic sea water. Our oceans are not acidic currently but small changes in acidity do impact the growth of shellfish and may increase the need for maintenance of ships. The paint that we protect our ships with isn’t perfectly healthy either but corrosion would be worse for the ship’s cargo and crew. Maintenance requires the time for staff to order the work and supplies and to perform the work. [4, 5, 6] And staff and supplies require a budget to finance the work and purchases. Coordination and cooperation requires communication and that has a cost as well.

Free information carries the cost of awareness and for some that can be an undesirable expense. Negative campaigning twists words and facts into soundbites that make promises or warnings that may have little foundation in reality. Denial of truth is an easier soundbite to share than the disturbing reality that we actually share.

A recent study at Stanford University comparing food grown by organic or standard methods found a difference in disease resistant pathogens and in pesticide content but not a significant difference in nutrient content. The benefit of reduced pesticide content is not just for the person eating the food. There would be less toxins added to the ground water each year that the chemicals weren’t added to the fields or animal fodder. [8, 9]

We are trying to survive in a world increasingly loaded with chemicals that were previously unknown in nature. Some noticed the increasing environmental and health problems decades ago and have been working to increase awareness and reduce the chemical contamination but more awareness and action is needed. Consumers can use their purchasing and voting power and businesses can develop more environmentally sustainable products and policies.

My opinions are my own, no disrespect is intended.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. Varghese AC, et. al., “Oocyte developmental competence and embryo development: impact of lifestyle and environmental risk factors,” Reproductive BioMedicine Online (2011), doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2010.11.009 []
  2. “Ocean Acidity” Figure 1: Ocean Carbon Dioxide Levels and Acidity, 1983-2005, []
  3. Article by Helen Scales, Oceans Becoming Acidic Ten Times Faster Than (previously) Thought, (Nov. 24, 2008) Nat. Geo: []
  4. Salt Water, Fasteners and Boats, [] *Guidance for the small boat owner.
  5. US Navy, Corrosion Control, NAVFAC MO-307, Sept. 1992, [] *A long document that I included  simply as an example of the many details involved in planning for maintenance needs.
  6. Ship Maker Denies Responsibility For Rust on New Navy Ship, (June 21, 2011) PaintSquare: []
  7. Article by Andrea Shalal-Esa, “Austal’s first high speed ship completes U.S. Navy acceptance trials” (Aug. 30, 2012) Reuters, NBC News: []
  8. Article by Shannon Pettypiece, “Organic Food Adds No Vitamins for Extra Cost, Research Finds,” (Sept. 4, 2012) WashingtonPost: []
  9. Article by Robyn O’Brien, “Organic Food vs. Conventional: What the Stanford Study Missed,” (Sept. 6, 2012) Huffington Post: []
  10. A prior post included information about problems that have been seen in the health of coral reefs and sea turtles. “Coral reefs in peril, less perilous topic than religion or politics” (April 9, 2012) []

B vitamin methyl donors may help protect against risks from BPA

     Research in the field of epigenetics by a team led by Dr. Randy Jirtle, an oncologist at Duke University, found physical changes in the experimental groups to be preventable if the experimental BPA diet was also supplemented with the B vitamins, folic acid and B12.
     Mice who were fed BPA prenatally had significantly more babies develop a characteristic hair color and they were at increased risk for gaining excess weight compared to the control group of prenatal mice that did not receive any BPA. However when the mice were fed a diet with extra B vitamins prenatally along with the BPA there were fewer babies with the change in hair color and associated health risks. The addition of the soy bean phytochemical, genistein, also helped reduce the number of baby mice who developed the change in hair color pigmentation. [1,2]
    Bisphenyl A acts similarly to the hormone estrogen. Genistein is a phytoestrogen that may help block harmful effects of estrogen mimetics. The B vitamins used in the study were chosen because they can donate a methyl group which is necessary for allowing genes to remain unactivated, to stay in an off position. A gene that has few methyl groups may be more easily activated than normally.

      Two other methyl donors, choline and betaine, were used in addition to the folic acid and vitamin B12. Choline is also a water soluble essential nutrient that is frequently grouped with the rest of the B vitamins. Choline is found throughout the body but is particularly important within the brain. Betaine is a metabolite of choline. Spinach and beets are rich in betaine. Good sources of choline include egg yolks, soy beans, beef, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables and cauliflower. [3]

Betaine is also being marketed as a medication for helping to reduce blood levels of homocysteine in the inherited condition, homocystinuria. (Reducing elevated levels of homocysteine may also reduce the risk of developing heart disease.) [4]

A prenatal diet providing a low intake of the methyl donors folate and B12 has been associated with cardiomyopathy in the infants. [5] Infants born to mothers with a low intake of the methyl donors folate, B12 and choline were also more at risk for cardiomyopathy later in life. [6] Not taking prenatal vitamins during the three months prior to conceiving or during the first month of pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk for autism in the infants especially for women who have a genetic variation in their methylation metabolism, (MTHFR 677 TT, CBSrs234715 GT + TT). [9] People with problems in the methylation pathways may need to take a methylated form of B12 and folate rather than the more commonly available form of folic acid. [10]

A link between BPA intake and an increased risk for heart disease has been discovered. [7] The physiologic reason is not known. Tips from the article for people hoping to reduce exposure to BPA include:

  1. avoid use of foods and beverages from cans,
  2. avoid re-using plastic bottles for beverages,
  3. limit handling of store receipts or placing them in store bags with unwrapped foods. Some register receipts have a BPA coating
  4. and wash your hands after handling register receipts. [7]

Adequate B vitamin intake is essential for reducing elevated levels of homocysteine. An increased blood level of homocysteine has been associated with increased heart disease risk. The amount of calcification within coronary arteries has also been shown to be predictive of heart disease risk. [8]

It has not been conclusively proven that a diet with adequate supplies of methyl donors protects DNA from changes that may be caused by BPA but a diet providing plenty of B vitamins is also unlikely to cause harm. B vitamins are water soluble and quite safe except in such large doses that would be difficult to obtain from food sources alone. The B vitamins work together in metabolic pathways that are essential for burning and using energy sources. The B vitamins might be described as being similar to matchsticks for accessing  the stored energy and so they are important for daily energy levels and for a good mood.
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  1. Synopsis of the BPA prenatal mouse study, by Pete Myers, PhD, “Bisphenol A alters epigenetic programming in fetal mice, and the effect can be reversed by genistein, (about the BPA mouse study) (July 30, 2007): [] *link i no longer working. Excerpt: “The new findings focus on BPA’s ability to remove ‘protective molecules’ that normally prevent genes from being turned on at the wrong time or in the wrong tissue.”
  2. The full research article: by Dana C Dolinoy, Dale Huang, Randy L. Jirtle, Maternal nutrient supplementation counteracts bisphenol A-induced DNA hypomethylation in early development, PNAS, August 7, 2007, vol 104, No. 32, 13056-13061 [] *The mice in the experimental groups were being fed a diet including 50 mg BPA/kg which was considered to be less than the known toxic dose for mice but it represents a greater amount than is assumed to be found in the average human’s daily diet.
  3. Choline” on []
  4. Betaine,” (Feb. 11, 2012) PubMed Health: []  *link not working, part of the information is available here: []
  5. Garcia MM et al, “Methyl donor deficiency induces cardiomyopathy through altered methylation/acetylation of PGC-1α by PRMT1 and SIRT1.” J Pathol. 2011 Nov;225(3):324-35. doi: 10.1002/path.2881. Epub 2011 Jun 1. []
  6. Joseph J, “Fattening by deprivation: methyl balance and perinatal cardiomyopathy.”   J Pathol. 2011 Nov;225(3):315-7. doi: 10.1002/path.2942. Epub 2011 Jul 7. []
  7. Kathleen Doheny, “Higher BPA Levels, More Heart Disease? Researchers Find Higher BPA Levels Linked With Narrower Arteries; Industry Says Study Proves Nothing” (Aug. 15, 2012) WebMD: []
  8. Michael O’Riordan, “Coronary artery calcium bests other risk markers for CVD risk assessment” (Aug. 22, 2012) [] *subscription service
  9. Rebecca J. Schmidt, et. al. , “Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism,” Epidemiology. 2011 Jul; 22(4): 476–485. []
  10. Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available,” Aug. 21, 2013 []
  11. MTHFR C677T Mutation: Basic Protocol,” 

Other references regarding B vitamins:

    1. Article by Kate Geagan, MS, RD, End Your Energy Crisis With B12, (Jan. 10, 2012), The Doctor Oz Show website: []
    2. Mood Disorders – Depression, The Vitamin Update website: [] Includes information about mental health symptoms and functions of several B vitamins and a few trace minerals.
    3. Author: Vladimir Hegyi, Dermatologic Manifestations of Pellegra, (May 15, 2012) emedicine.Medscape: [] (deficiency of Niacin or B3)
    4. Author: Dieu-Thu Nguyen-Khoa, BeriBeri (Thiamin Deficiency), (Dec. 13, 2011) emedicine Medscape: [] (B1)
    5. Author: Richard E. Frye, Pyridoxine Deficiency, (May 26, 2010) emedicine Medscape: [] (B6)
    6. Author: Angela Gentili, Folic Acid Deficiency, (Dec 1, 2011) emedicine Medscape: []
/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./