Eggs supply a good dose of thiamin.

What Role Does Vitamin B-1 Play?

by Sara Ipatenco

Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamin, is one of several B vitamins necessary for human life. Though you only need 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B-1 each day, it's a healthy habit to include thiamin-rich foods in your daily diet since your body doesn't store the nutrient. A thiamin deficiency can cause numerous health problems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, so getting plenty is essential for your good health.

Energy Formation

Vitamin B-1, along with other B vitamins including riboflavin and niacin, plays a key role in energy production. Thiamin, in particular, aids your cells in identifying the carbohydrates you eat and changing them into energy. This energy benefits your entire body, but it is especially critical to the function of your brain and nervous systems, according to the PubMed Health website. Without sufficient amounts of thiamin, your body will struggle to produce enough energy for you to be physically active, as well as enough to support each of your bodily functions.

Muscle and Nerve Health

You need plenty of thiamin as part of a healthy diet because it helps your muscles contract and relax properly. Thiamin supports normal function of your nerves and nervous system, too. According to, vitamin B-1 helps control the flow of electrolytes in and out of your cells. Vitamin B-1 is also responsible for conducting nerve signals throughout your body so you're able to move, think, grow and feel. Thiamin aids in the proper function of your heart, as well, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Thiamin Deficiency

Because thiamin isn't stored in significant amounts in your body, your stores will deplete in about 14 days, according to While a vitamin B-1 deficiency is more common in people with certain health problems, such as liver disease or overactive thyroid, and people who are alcoholics, not getting enough in your diet can also lead to a deficiency. Mild side effects of not getting enough thiamin include weakness and fatigue. Chronic thiamin deficiency can cause nerve damage, brain damage, heart problems, muscle disorders and psychosis, reports.

Getting More Thiamin

Most women don't have a hard time getting sufficient amounts of vitamin B-1 if they eat a well-balanced diet. The best food sources of vitamin B-1 include eggs, lean meats, organ meats, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. You'll also get a good amount of thiamin from dried milk and enriched grain products. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables can help you get plenty of vitamin B-1, which is an important consideration if you don't eat meat. If you're concerned that you don't consume enough vitamin B-1, talk with your doctor about a supplement. Don't take supplements of any kind without your doctor's approval.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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