Thiamine supplement health benefit and deficiency, food content by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
September 12 2016

Thiamine or thiamin, is also known as vitamin B1. For a complete list of the B vitamins, see the link. If you wish to purchase a Vitamin B complex, click Vitamin-B-Coenzyme. You may also consider a very popular multivitamin product that I have formulated with thiamine and all the other B vitamins. This product is called MultiVit Rx and has a high rate of reorder. Many people notice enhanced energy, better mood, and a feeling of more vitality.

The RDA for adults is 1.2 mg/day for men and 1.1 mg/day for women. Recently, the median intake of thiamin from food in the United States was approximately 2 mg/day.

Role and physiology, metabolism
Thiamin is necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy in the human body. Thiamin is found in good amounts in milk, lean pork, legumes, rice bran, and the germ of cereal grains, but is lost during food processing and cooking. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) for thiamine by government advisory panels is about 1.5 mg.

Rev Prat. 2013. Vitamin B1. Thiamine) plays a key role in energy production from glucose. Since the main fuel of the nervous system is glucose, thiamine deficiency causes severe neurological symptoms. The biological exploration of vitamin B1 status is based on the measurement of thiamine pyrophosphate concentration or of the activity of a thiamine-dependent enzyme, transketolase, in erythrocytes. Severe deficiency states can be observed in chronic alcoholics, after protracted vomiting during pregnancy and after bariatric surgery. Mild deficiencies are common in the general population, but their clinical consequences are still unclear.

Role in cancer
Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2014. Low-thiamine diet increases mammary tumor latency in FVB/N-Tg(MMTVneu) mice.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. January 23 2014. High-dose vitamin B1 reduces proliferation in cancer cell lines analogous to dichloroacetate.

Thiamine and kidney disease
Dr. Naila Rabbani and Paul J. Thornalley at Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, together with researchers at the University of Punjab and Sheik Zaid Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, have found that taking high oral doses of thiamine, 100 mg three times a day for three months, can decrease the excretion of albumin and reverse early stage kidney disease in type 2 diabetes patients. The albumin excretion rate was decreased by 41 percent from the value at the start of the study. The results also showed a third of patients with microalbuminuria saw a return to normal urinary albumin excretion after being treated with thiamine. Diabetologia, December 2008.

Mental benefit of thiamine
Studies indicate that supplementation with thiamine provides cognitive benefits. Dr. Benton and colleagues gave 50 mg of thiamin daily to young adult females for a period of two months. The women reported being more clearheaded, composed, and energetic. The taking of thiamin had no influence on memory but reaction times were faster following supplementation. Prior to taking the thiamin, the women had normal blood levels of this vitamin.

Researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital in Christchurch, New Zealand, measured thiamin levels in elderly individuals before giving them 10 mg of thiamine a day. Only the subjects with low thiamin concentrations showed benefits. They had an improvement in quality of life with more energy and deeper sleep, along with decreased blood pressure and weight.

Thiamin is now sold in its coenzyme form called cocarboxylase or thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP). Human studies giving TPP to evaluate cognitive functioning have not yet been published. See also Benfotiamine.

I want to start taking extra Vitamin B1 as my doctor recommended it for angular chelitis, and skin in general. My research shows that Thiamine Hydrochloride is bio non-active. They recommend Thiamine Pyrophosphate (best), Thiamine Monophosphate, and Thiamine Diphosphate (active in body pathways & water soluble). I can't seem to find anything but Thiamine Hydrochloride on the market. Do you know where I can get Thiamine Pyrophosphate. I hate to throw money away on something "bio non-active.
   I have not seen any clinical studies that show Thiamine Hcl to be inactive.

Thiamine deficiency
A deficiency of thiamine causes tiredness and weakness. As the thiamine deficiency becomes worse, psychosis and nerve damage can occur. Thiamine deficiency in the United States occurs in those who abuse alcohol for several decades. Thiamine deficiency can lead to a disease called beriberi.

Thiamine deficiency in patients with diabetes
High prevalence of low plasma thiamine concentration in diabetes linked to a marker of vascular disease.
Diabetologia. 2007. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, UK.
Diabetic patients (26 type 1 and 48 type 2) with and without microalbuminuria and 20 normal healthy control volunteers were recruited. Erythrocyte activity of transketolase, the concentrations of thiamine and related phosphorylated metabolites in plasma, erythrocytes and urine, and markers of metabolic control and vascular dysfunction were determined. Plasma thiamine concentration was decreased 76% in type 1 diabetic patients and 75% in type 2 diabetic patients. Low plasma thiamine concentration is prevalent in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, associated with increased thiamine clearance.

Thiamine, vitamin B1, and mosquitoes
Q. Is it true that thiamin vitamin B1, taken orally, prevents mosquitoes from biting?
   A. I have a friend who swears that taking a thiamin supplement by itself without the other B vitamins prevents mosquitoes from biting her. She takes 50 mg of thiamin, and she thinks that taking a B complex does not work, it has to be thiamin by itself. I have not come across studies that indicate vitamin B1 is effective as a mosquito repellent.

Q. If I bought a bottle of thiamine Vitamin B1 water-soluble capsules; would be best to swallow the capsule whole with a glass of water or break the capsule open and put the thiamine powder in my mouth and then swallow this with a glass of water for better absorption? A lady friend is beginning The Thiamine Therapy as 500 mg. capsule daily; and my friend would like to know the answer to this question: my friend has advanced multiple sclerosis.
   A. Practically speaking it would not make much of a difference. Swallowing the thiamine capsule whole is just fine. We have not come across evidence that high dosages of thiamine are effective as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Q. I've read that thiamine has to be converted to cocarboxylase in the body. My question is would thiamine supplements already in the cocarboxylase form and sub-lingual (let's say 25 mg) be as effective as a much larger dose (maybe 100 mg or more) of Thiamine HCI (hydrochloride) in a capsule? Swallowing the cap would be subject to stomach acid, but sub-lingual would be absorbed directly into the bloodstream would it not?
   A. Yes, most likely the sublingual and cocarboxylase form would be more potent than thiamine hydrochloride in capsule form. However, as the benefits may perhaps be better, there is a potential that the side effects would be more pronounced. A high dose or quick absorption is not necessarily healthier. But each person and each medical condition being treated is different.