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Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients – Thiamine
Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients – Thiamine
Thiamine is an important B vitamin that plays a vital role in production of energy from food consumed. It also improves normal neuronal activity. Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin and is also known as vitamin B1 (1). It is also called aneurine because of the harmful effects its deficiency has on the neurological system. Thiamine with other water-soluble vitamins other than vitamin C and choline form B complex vitamins.
Most of the thiamine after absorption in the small intestine is converted to thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) and a small amount into thiamine triphosphate (TTP). Thiamine is not stored in any tissue or organ in significant amounts. Red blood cells transport thiamine in the body (2).
Sources of thiamine
Thiamine cannot be synthesized in the body and has to be provided by the food consumed. Thiamine is found in a wide variety of foods but in low amounts. Pork and yeast contain significant amounts of thiamine. Whole grains and enriched grain products are good sources of thiamine. Other good sources of thiamine are peas, beans, nuts, brown rice, and beef. As thiamine is present in the outer layers of grains it is absent in polished rice and other refined cereal products (3).
Thiamine is not a heat stable vitamin therefore its content is reduced with cooking and other processing methods in which heating is involved. For fortification of foods with thiamine, it is used in the form of thiamine hydrochloride and thiamine nitrate.
How much thiamine do we need?
The recommended daily intake of thiamine depends on calorie expended. When a person’s energy/calorie consumption increases the amount of thiamine required also increases. Thiamine requirement can also be expressed as, for every 1000 kilo calories spent 0.5 mg of thiamine is needed. The recommended dietary allowance for men is more than for women. The requirement increases further during pregnancy and lactation (4).
Dietary Reference Intake for thiamine per day
Men 1.2 mg
Women 1.0 mg
Pregnant and Lactating women 1.4 mg
Functions of thiamine in the body
Thiamine functions as a coenzyme in many important reactions in the cells. For optimal functioning of an enzyme the presence of coenzyme is essential. Thiamine acts as a coenzyme for enzymes involved in the energy pathways as thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP). Macronutrients carbohydrate, protein and fat are metabolized to produce energy and thiamine is involved in these reactions. Thiamine plays a role in the process of converting glucose to ribose in the cells. Ribose and deoxyribose are primary constituents of deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) and ribonucleic acids (RNA).
Thiamine is essential for normal functioning of brain, nerves and muscle. TPP is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and in case of thiamine deficiency there is negative effect on energy metabolism in cardiac and nerve tissues (3).
Thiamine deficiency may be an effect which arises when there is any restriction of diet or in situations where there is inadequate vitamin absorption. The major reason for thiamine deficiency is alcoholism. Though alcohol is a source of energy it has so many side effects that it is not considered as a nutrient. Alcoholic persons are at a greater risk of thiamine deficiency because of poor diet associated with unhealthy lifestyle. Prolonged alcoholism also affects thiamine absorption from the intestine, thiamine storage and may also reduce thiamine phosphorylation which is essential for cellular function.
Factors that influence thiamine deficiency
- Diet that contains mainly polished rice and malnutrition
- Gastrointestinal surgical procedures (5)
Thiamine deficiency results in Beri-Beri which is of two types
- wet beriberi
- dry beriberi
Infants also may be affected with beriberi and the condition is called infantile beriberi.
The symptoms of beriberi are
- Loss of appetite
- Atrophy of legs and muscular weakness
In wet beriberi the person shows signs of edema. It starts with legs and may spread to other parts of the body. Palpitation and breathlessness are also present. As the condition progresses heart is affected and it may have serious implications.
In dry beriberi the muscles are wasted which results in weakness and walking becomes difficult. If not treated in time it may become fatal (3).
- Lonsdale, D. (2006) A review of the biochemistry, metabolism and clinical benefits of thiamine and its derivatives, Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. Vol.3 (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1375232/
- Wildman, R. (2009) The Nutritionist-Food, Nutrition, and Optimal Health, Vitamins are vital molecules in food 191. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Second Edition. New York and London.
- Fattal- Valevski, A. (2011) Thiamine (Vitamin B1) -Topical Review Article, Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Vol. 16 (1). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1533210110392941
- Kerns, J.C. and Gutierrez, J.L. (2017) Thiamin, Advances in Nutrition. Vol. 8 (2). https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/8/2/395/4616698
- Osiezagha, K., Ali, S., Freeman, C., Barker, N. C., Jabeen, S., Maitra, S. and Bailey, R. K. (2013) Thiamine deficiency and delirium, Innovations in clinical neuroscience.Vol.10 (4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659035/