Project Body Smart | What You Need to Know About Thiamin (Vitamin B1)


What You Need to Know About Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Your food isn’t automatic energy. Your body needs some help. Thiamin is a water-soluble B vitamin that is essential for turning food in your diet into cellular energy. And that’s not all it does. Thiamin has many other functions in the body, including an important role in the synthesis of DNA.

Read this short summary to find out where to get it in your diet. And see who is most likely to be at risk of deficiency of this important nutrient.


  • What is it? Water-soluble B vitamin that acts as a coenzyme essential for turning your diet into cellular energy.
  • What does it do for me? It helps metabolize components of your diet, making it available as energy for your body. It also supports cell division, and systems throughout your body—including skin and brain.
  • Where can I find it? Eating brown rice, pork, and squash can provide thiamin.

Without vitamin B1, eating would be little more than chewing and tasting. Thiamin—another name for B1—helps convert what you eat into energy your body can use.

This role in energy metabolism comes from its ability to act as a coenzyme. Different configurations of thiamin and phosphate are made in the intestine to facilitate vitamin B1’s role in metabolism. Thiamin diphosphate (two phosphate molecules connected to free thiamin molecules) is the most important form.

The forms of thiamin help other enzymes start chemical reactions that break down carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. The process turns starches, sugars, amino acids, and fats into usable energy for the cells of your body.

Thiamin isn’t just involved in energy metabolism. It’s impact on cellular sugar production makes it essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Vitamin B1 also helps build fatty acids and supports healthy cellular function.

This important vitamin is stored in the liver, but not for long. So, you need to constantly replenish your stockpile through a healthy diet or smart supplementation. Those with a limited diet or pregnant women are at risk for B1 deficiency. Don’t be afraid of eating too much, even very high oral doses of vitamin B1 haven’t been found to cause adverse effects. Only a role in minor GI distress has been reported.

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