What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B-1 or Thiamine?

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Thiamine, one of the eight B vitamins, is named vitamin B-1 because it was the first of the B vitamins to be identified. Thiamine is water-soluble, which means your body can't store it, so it needs to be replenished daily. Most adults need just over 1.1 to 1.2 milligrams per day, but supplement dosages may be higher, so speak to your doctor before taking thiamine supplements.

What Thiamine Does in the Body

Thiamine is necessary to turn the foods you eat into energy and help your body metabolize protein. It's needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver, and it also helps the nervous system function properly. Vitamin B-1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal, breads and other grain products, beans, nuts and meat. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that thiamine is sometimes called an anti-stress vitamin because it strengthens your immune system and might improve your ability to withstand stressful conditions.

Treatment for Disorders

Thiamine supplements are effective for treating thiamine deficiency disorders such as beriberi, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Such deficiencies can be due to lack of thiamine in the diet or as a result of certain diseases like beriberi. MedlinePlus says thiamine prevents and treats Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which is related to thiamine deficiency and is usually seen in alcoholics. Thiamine might also prevent kidney damage in people who have type-2 diabetes. In addition, the vitamin might help prevent cataracts and is beneficial for treatment of some genetic disorders.