Thiamine Deficiency Symptoms & Concerns You Don’t Want to Ignore


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Many modern foods are fortified with synthetic vitamins in an attempt to prevent widespread deficiencies that according to history books, used to plague the world, sometimes even resulting in death.

Whether or not these synthetic versions of vitamins are as beneficial as their naturally occurring counterparts is debatable. The natural versions of vitamins are generally recognized as being superior by naturopathic doctors and other alternative healers. On the other hand, allopathic medicine and its general disregard for the importance of nutrition considers all vitamins regardless of origin to be substantially equivalent.

People should get nutrients from fresh whole foods whenever possible. This is because in addition to vitamins, fresh foods contain cancer-fighting enzymes that enhance the body’s ability to utilize these vitamins.

In an attempt to eat cleaner, health-conscious people are switching to organic or alternative versions of bread, pasta, milk, orange juice, and other foods that would typically be fortified with vitamins.

Alternative foods with simpler ingredient labels tend not to include added vitamins such as B vitamins. These vitamins are added to conventional breads and pasta but oftentimes NOT their organic counterparts.

While organic crops do indeed contain more nutrients, many mass produced crops are becoming less rich in vitamins overall as time goes on due to mono-cropping and other crop rotation and fertilization techniques.

Here’s a common scenario: Someone who eats plenty of non-organic bread, cereal, or pasta starts putting effort into eating better. They buy the organic version which isn’t fortified with vitamins like the product they were eating before. Suddenly, their body is missing what was one of its leading sources of that vitamin. Hopefully that person is taking a good multivitamin.

Some foods that are often fortified with Thiamine, aka vitamin B1, are rice, pasta, breads, cereals and flour. 

Jillian Levy, CHHC explains,

What happens if you get too little vitamin B1? Without high enough levels of thiamine, the molecules found in carbohydrates and proteins (in the form of branched-chain amino acids) cannot be properly used by the body to carry out various important functions.

Health Benefits of Thiamine

From Medline:

Thiamine is also used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea.

Thiamine is also used for AIDS and boosting the immune system, diabetic pain, heart disease, alcoholism, aging, a type of brain damage called cerebellar syndrome, canker sores, vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, and motion sickness. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness/muscle wasting
  • Cramps
  • Pains in the legs and stiffness
  • Mental changes, such as apathy or depression
    Cardiovascular effects, such as an enlarged heart
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Ongoing digestive problems, such as diarrhea
  • Decrease in short-term memory
  • Confusion

Foods That Naturally Contain Thiamine From Dr Axe:

  • Nutritional Yeast — 2 tablespoons: 9.6 milligrams (640 percent DV)
  • Seaweed (Such as Spirulina) — 1 cup seaweed: 2.66 milligrams (216 percent DV)
  • Sunflower Seeds — 1 cup: 2 milligrams (164 percent DV)
  • Macadamia Nuts— 1 cup: 1.6 milligrams (132 percent DV)
  • Black Beans — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.58 milligram (48 percent DV)
  • Lentils — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.53 milligram (44 percent DV)
  • Navy Beans — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.53 milligram (44 percent DV)
  • White Beans —1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.53 milligram (44 percent DV)
  • Green Split Peas — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.48 milligram (40 percent DV)
  • Pinto beans — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.46 mg (39 percent DV)
  • Mung Beans — 1/3 cup dried, or about 1 cup cooked: 0.42 milligram (36 percent DV)
  • Beef Liver — 1 3 oz. piece cooked: 0.32 milligram (26 percent DV)
  • Asparagus — 1 cup cooked: 0.3 milligram (25 percent DV)
  • Brussels Sprouts — 1 cup cooked: 0.16 milligram (13 percent DV)

Bottom line

If you’ve made the switch to a cleaner diet (as you should) and are eating foods that are not fortified with vitamins you should make it a point to eat foods rich in naturally occurring Thiamine as well as take a multivitamin.

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