Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) – Benefits, Deficiency, Sources, Recommendation.

Nutrition Expert- Saba Shaikh, Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.

  • Immune System

The role of the immune system — a collection of structures and processes within the body is to protect against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and distinguishes them from the body’s own healthy tissue. (1)

  • Thiamine Mononitrate

Vitamin B1, thiamin, or thiamine, is a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin B1 enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy. It is essential for glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function. Vitamin B1, or thiamine, helps prevent complications in the nervous system, brain, muscles, heart, stomach, and intestines. It is also involved in the flow of electrolytes into and out of muscle and nerve cells. (2)

  • Thiamine Mononitrate and Immunity

Thiamine is a coenzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway, which is a necessary step in the synthesis of fatty acids, steroids, nucleic acids and the aromatic amino acid precursors to a range of neurotransmitters and other bioactive compounds essential for brain function. Thiamine plays a neuro-modulatory role in the acetylcholine neurotransmitter system, distinct from its actions as a cofactor during metabolic processes and contributes to the structure and function of cellular membranes, including neurons and neuroglia. (3)

Like other B-complex vitamins, thiamine is sometimes called an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. It is named B1 because it was the first B vitamin discovered.

Thiamine is found in both plants and animals and plays a crucial role in certain metabolic reactions. Your body needs it to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which every cell of the body uses for energy. (4)

Thiamine Deficiency

Insufficient intakes of thiamine from the diet, the causes of thiamine deficiency include lower absorption or higher excretion rates than normal due, for example, to certain conditions (such as alcohol dependence or HIV/AIDS) or use of some medications

In its early stage, thiamine deficiency can cause weight loss and anorexia, confusion, short-term memory loss, and other mental signs and symptoms; muscle weakness; and cardiovascular symptoms (such as an enlarged heart)

The most common effect of thiamine deficiency is beriberi, which is characterized mainly by peripheral neuropathy and wasting. People with this condition have impaired sensory, motor, and reflex functions. In rare cases, beriberi causes congestive heart failure that leads to edema in the lower limbs and, occasionally, death. (5)

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is caused by a deficiency in the B vitamin thiamine. Thiamine plays a role in metabolizing glucose to produce energy for the brain. An absence of thiamine results in an inadequate supply of energy to the brain, particularly to the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature, growth, and appetite, and also has a role in emotional response. The hypothalamus also controls pituitary functions, including metabolism and hormones, and mammillary bodies, where neural pathways connect various parts of the brain involved in memory functions. The disease is typically associated with chronic alcoholism, but may be associated with malnutrition or other conditions that cause nutritional deficiencies. (6)

  • Deficiency of thiamine can be related to:
  • Poor intake
  • Diets primarily high in polished rice/processed grains
  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Parental nutritional without adequate thiamine supplementation
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Poor absorption
  • Malnutrition
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Mal-absorption syndrome
  • Increased loss 
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Diuretic use
  • Renal replacement therapy
  • Increased thiamine utilization
  • Pregnancy
  • Lactation
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Refeeding syndrome
  • Drugs that can lead to thiamine deficiency(7)

How Is Thiamine Deficiency Treated

The only treatment for thiamine deficiency is thiamine supplementation and changes to any underlying dietary habits that may have caused the deficiency. Thiamine supplementation can be given orally or by injection, depending on the type and cause of thiamine deficiency you have.

If identified early and treated promptly, most symptoms associated with thiamine deficiency should resolve. People who have thiamine deficiency should receive long-term monitoring of their thiamine levels to ensure that the deficiency does not return. (8)

  • Food Sources of Thiamine

There are many natural ways to add thiamine-rich foods to an everyday diet. Food sources of thiamine include beef, liver, dried milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds, legumes, peas and yeast.  Foods are also fortified with thiamine. Some foods that are often fortified with B1 are rice, pasta, breads, cereals and flour. (9)

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Thiamine

AgeThiamine (mg/d)
Infants (0-6 months)0.2
Infants(6-12 months)0.3
Children’s(1-3 years)0.5
Children’s(4-6 years)0.7
Children’s(7-9 years)0.8
Boys(10–12 years)1.1
Girls(10-12 years)1.0
Boys(13-15 years)1.4
Girls(13-17 years)1.2
Boys(16-17 years)1.5
Girls(16-17 years)1.0
Men (sedentary work)1.2
Men (Moderate work)1.4
Men (Heavy Work)1.7
Women (sedentary work)1.0
Women (Moderate work)1.1
Women (Heavy Work)1.4
Pregnant Women+0.2
Lactating Women(0-6 months)+0.3
Lactating Women(6-12 months)+0.2

Source: Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians (ICMR 2010)



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