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Health & Wellness

Let’s Talk About Vitamins: Vitamin B1

By May 6, 2021No Comments

Let's Talk About Vitamins: Vitamin B1 | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Work, personal projects, and family commitments can all add up to cause stress and irritability that ebbs and flows as stressors come and go.

Sometimes, though, stress and irritability comes from a physiological cause rather than an external one.

If that’s the case we’re here to help at Annex Naturopathic with naturopathic treatment for stress & irritability.

In this article we’re going to discuss one possible culprit for stress and irritability, vitamin B1 deficiency.

Vitamin B1 is so ubiquitous you may not ever think about it, but it serves an important role in the body and there can be serious adverse effects if you don’t get enough of it.

So let’s talk about vitamin B1: what it is, what it does, and how to know if you’re not getting enough of it.

What Is Vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is one of eight essential B vitamins that the body needs in order to function properly.

It was the first identified B vitamin, which is why it bears the number 1.

Vitamin B1 can be taken in through a variety of foods as well as through supplements if needed.

Vitamin B1 is an important ingredient for the body to break down carbohydrates to use their energy on a cellular level.

Because of its widespread use in the body, deficiency of Vitamin B1 can interfere with the body in a variety of different ways.

Deficiencies are rare in healthy adults, but they can have serious side effects, so it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin B1.

Benefits Of Vitamin B1

Your body needs Vitamin B1 to function properly, but it can have additional benefits above and beyond health maintenance.

Making sure you get enough vitamin B1 can be an important step towards improving your health, so let’s talk about a few of the potential benefits it can have.

1. May Relieve Painful Menstruation

There is some evidence that suggests that taking a vitamin B1 supplement may help alleviate menstrual pain for young people who menstruate.

The evidence suggests that taking B vitamins in the weeks leading up to your period can help reduce both the severity of pain and its duration.

2. May Help With Cataracts

While research is ongoing, there has been some evidence for a link between vitamin B1 and lowered risk of cataracts.

Because of vitamin B1’s role in cellular health, deficiencies may lead to degeneration of the tissues in the lens of the eye, which can cause cataracts.

Preliminary research suggests that making sure you get enough vitamin B1 may help mitigate this risk.

3. May Help With Metabolic Disorders

Vitamin B1 is though to be linked to the part of the brain that regulates hunger and satiety.

Because of this link, vitamin B1 deficiency may interfere with eating patterns and contribute to metabolic disorders.

Getting enough vitamin B1 can counteract this effect.

how vitamin B1 can help boost your metabolism | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Symptoms Of Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Vitamin B1 has a role in cellular health throughout the body.

This importance means that when there isn’t enough of it to go around the effects can be varied and interfere with general health in a variety of ways.

1. Irritability

Everyone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed from time to time, but if it becomes a regular occurrence that may mean there’s an underlying issue.

Irritability can mean being agitated, frustrated, or easily upset.

It’s also often one of the first signs of vitamin B1 deficiency to appear.

2. Loss of Appetite

Because of the link discussed above between vitamin B1 and the brain’s hunger regulation, vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to a loss of appetite.

Studies in rats have shown that limiting their vitamin B1 intake also reduces their food intake over time.

The studies also showed that returning vitamin B1 levels to normal also increased food intake again, so the appetite effects of the deficiency were not permanent.

3. Reduced Reflexes

Over time, thiamine deficiency can cause damage to motor nerves, the parts of the nervous system that bridge the gap between the central nervous system and muscles in the rest of the body.

This damage can cause changes to reflexes as the communication links between the brain and muscles are weakened.

If left untreated this can also cause issues with coordination in general, which makes it important to seek medical attention if you notice symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency.

4. Muscle Weakness

Most of us will experience some type of muscle weakness in our lives, whether it’s after an injury or during a run in with the flu.

Prolonged and generalized muscle weakness, however, can be a sign of vitamin B1 deficiency.

This symptom tends to disappear once vitamin B1 levels return to normal.

5. Nausea And Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting tend to be less common than some of the other symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency, but they have been documented in some cases.

It can be hard to feel like eating when you feel nauseated, and it can be even more difficult when vitamin B1 deficiency also leads to reduced appetite.

This combination makes vitamin B1 intake an important thing to consider if you’re experiencing either of those symptoms.

What Causes Vitamin B1 Deficiency?

The body cannot produce vitamin B1 which means that it needs to be taken in through food or supplements.

It’s common in a variety of foods, which we’ll talk more about later, so vitamin B1 deficiency fairly uncommon.

That said, there are a few factors that can increase the risk of vitamin B1 deficiency.

Heavy alcohol consumption, old age, anorexia, Crohn’s disease, and type 2 diabetes are among a number of conditions that can increase risk by either flushing vitamin B1 from the body or interfering with sufficient intake of it.

Some dietary habits can also lead to vitamin B1 deficiency by interfering with your body’s use of it even if you are getting enough.

These include chewing tea leaves or betel nuts, excessive consumption of coffee or tea, and regular consumption of raw seafood.

Dietary Sources Of Vitamin B1

Luckily, there are lots of great dietary sources for vitamin B1 for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions and preferences.

Pork and poultry are high in vitamin B1, but if you avoid meat or are looking for other sources it’s also present in peas, beans and other legumes, and whole grains.

Many grain products are also fortified with thiamine to help prevent deficiencies, including cereals, rice, bread, and pasta.

Should You Take Vitamin B1 Supplements?

Vitamin B1 supplements are available either on their own or as a part of a B complex vitamin along with other essential B vitamins.

B complex vitamins are often recommended over individual B vitamins to keep their quantities balanced in the body.

Most vitamin B1 deficiencies can be treated through dietary changes, but in some cases the deficiency may be treated with a supplement.

Vitamin B is a water soluble vitamin, which means that if there’s an excess of it the body can easily flush it out without it causing problems.

This property of the vitamin makes the risk associated with taking a vitamin B1 supplement fairly low.

Book An Appointment With Annex Naturopathic

The symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency can interfere with your day-to-day life in tiring, frustrated, and unexpected ways.

If you think you may be suffering from vitamin B1 deficiency, there is help.

Whether or not that’s what’s causing the issue, we can help you find the root cause of your symptoms and find solutions for them.

Book an appointment today to work with a naturopath to find options that suit your needs.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,


Annex Naturopathic Clinic
800 Bathurst St Suite 301,
Toronto, ON M5R 3M8

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Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND