Vitamin B is
B1 is one of eight water-soluble B vitamins. All B vitamins
help the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose (sugar),
which is "burned" to produce energy. These B vitamins, often
referred to as B complex vitamins, are essential in the
breakdown of fats and protein. B complex vitamins also play
an important role in maintaining muscle tone along the wall
of the digestive tract and promoting the health of the
nervous system, skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver. Similar
to some other B complex vitamins, thiamine is considered an
"anti-stress" vitamin because it is believed to enhance the
activity of the immune system and improve the body's ability
to withstand stressful conditions.
Limited quantities of thiamine can be found in most foods,
but large amounts of this vitamin can be found in pork and
organ meats. Other good dietary sources of thiamine include
whole-grain or enriched cereals and rice, wheat germ, bran,
brewer's yeast, and blackstrap molasses.
Thiamine deficiency is rare, but tends to occur in people
who get most of their calories from sugar or alcohol.
Individuals with thiamine deficiency have difficulty
digesting carbohydrates. As a result, a substance called
pyruvic acid builds up in the bloodstream, causing a loss of
mental alertness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage. In
general, thiamine supplements are primarily used to treat
this deficiency known as beriberi.