Vitamin B are a class of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. Though these vitamins share similar names, they are chemically distinct compounds that often coexist in the same foods. In general, dietary supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Vitamin B1 Food sources, Functions and deficiency symptoms are mentioned below.
Thiamin (or thiamine) is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. It is also known as vitamin B1. Thiamin is naturally present in some foods, added to some food products, and available as a dietary supplement. It helps the body’s cells change carbohydrates into energy. The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body, especially the brain and nervous system. Thiamin also plays a role in muscle contraction and conduction of nerve signals.
Good sources of thiamin
- wholemeal cereal grains
- seeds (especially sesame seeds)
In Australia, it’s mandatory that white and wholemeal flour used for bread is fortified with thiamin.
Thiamin deficiency is generally found in countries where the dietary staple is white rice. Deficiencies in the Western world are generally caused by excessive alcohol intake and/or a very poor diet. Symptoms include – confusion, irritability, poor arm or leg (or both) coordination, lethargy, fatigue and muscle weakness.
Beriberi is a condition caused by thiamin deficiency and affects the cardiovascular, muscular, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. It can be classified as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ beriberi. ‘Dry’ beriberi affects the nervous symptom while ‘wet’ beriberi affects the cardiovascular system.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (also called ‘wet brain’) is another thiamin-deficiency disease linked to alcohol excess and a thiamin-deficient diet. Alcohol reduces thiamin absorption in the gut and increases its excretion from the kidneys.
Deficiency Symptoms includes
- Poor memory, irritability, sleep disturbance.
- Wernicke encephalopathy, Korsakoff syndrome.
- Bilateral, symmetrical lower extremity paresthesias, burning pain.
- Muscle cramps.
- Decreased vibratory position sensation.
- Absent knee and ankle jerk.
- Muscle atrophy
Vitamin B1 Food sources Functions and deficiency symptoms