What is it?
Thiamine is a vitamin, also called vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal grains, beans, nuts, and meat. It is often used in combination with other B vitamins, and found in many vitamin B complex products. Vitamin B complexes generally include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folic acid. However, some products do not contain all of these ingredients and some may include others, such as biotin, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline bitartrate, and inositol.
People take thiamine for conditions related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency syndromes), including beriberi and inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) associated with pellagra or pregnancy.
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, motion sickness, and improving athletic performance. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude; enhancing learning abilities; increasing energy; fighting stress; and preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer's disease.
Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for a memory disorder called Wernicke's encephalopathy syndrome, other thiamine deficiency syndromes in critically ill people, alcohol withdrawal, and coma.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1) are as follows:
- Treatment and prevention of thiamine deficiency, including a specific disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) that is related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency) and is often see in alcoholics. Between 30% and 80% of alcoholics are believed to have thiamine deficiency. Giving thiamine shots seems to help decrease the risk of developing WKS and decrease symptoms of WKS during alcohol withdrawal.
- Correcting problems in people with certain types of genetic diseases including Leigh's disease, maple syrup urine disease, and others.
Possibly effective for...
- Preventing kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes. Developing research shows that taking high-dose thiamine (100 mg three times daily) for three months significantly decreases the amount of albumin in the urine in people with type 2 diabetes. Albumin in the urine is an indication of kidney damage.
- Preventing cataracts.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Repelling mosquitos. Some research shows that taking B vitamins, including thiamine, does not improve mosquito repellency.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Preventing cervical cancer. Some research suggests that increasing intake of thiamine from dietary and supplement sources, along with other folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, might decrease the risk of precancerous spots on the cervix.
- Improving athletic performance.
- Poor appetite.
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Stomach problems.
- Brain conditions.
- Heart disease.
- Canker sores.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate thiamine for these uses.
Thiamine is required by our bodies to properly use carbohydrates.
Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts, although rare allergic reactions and skin irritation have occurred. It is also LIKELY SAFE when given appropriately intravenously (by IV) by a healthcare provider. Thiamine shots are an FDA-approved prescription product.
Thiamine might not properly enter the body in some people who have liver problems, drink a lot of alcohol, or have other conditions.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 1.4 mg daily. Not enough is known about the safety of using larger amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.
Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.
Areca (betel) nuts change thiamine chemically so it doesn't work as well. Regular, long-term chewing of betel nuts may contribute to thiamine deficiency.
Horsetail (Equisetum) contains a chemical that can destroy thiamine in the stomach, possibly leading to thiamine deficiency. The Canadian government requires that equisetum-containing products be certified free of this chemical. Stay on the safe side, and don't use horsetail if you are at risk for thiamine deficiency.
Coffee and tea
Chemicals in coffee and tea called tannins can react with thiamine, converting it to a form that is difficult for the body to take in. This could lead to thiamine deficiency. Interestingly, thiamine deficiency has been found in a group of people in rural Thailand who drink large amounts of tea (>1 liter per day) or chew fermented tea leaves long-term. However, this effect hasn't been found in Western populations, despite regular tea use. Researchers think the interaction between coffee and tea and thiamine may not be important unless the diet is low in thiamine or vitamin C. Vitamin C seems to prevent the interaction between thiamine and the tannins in coffee and tea.
Raw freshwater fish and shellfish contain chemicals that destroy thiamine. Eating a lot of raw fish or shellfish can contribute to thiamine deficiency. But cooked fish and seafood are OK. They don't have any affect on thiamine, because cooking destroys the chemicals that harm thiamine.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For adults with somewhat low levels of thiamine in their body (mild thiamine deficiency): the usual dose of thiamine is 5-30 mg daily in either a single dose or divided doses for one month. The typical dose for severe deficiency can be up to 300 mg per day.
- For reducing the risk of getting cataracts: a daily dietary intake of approximately 10 mg of thiamine.
As a dietary supplement in adults, 1-2 mg of thiamine per day is commonly used. The daily recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of thiamine are: Infants 0-6 months, 0.2 mg; infants 7-12 months, 0.3 mg; children 1-3 years, 0.5 mg; children 4-8 years, 0.6 mg; boys 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; men 14 years and older, 1.2 mg; girls 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; women 14-18 years, 1 mg; women over 18 years, 1.1 mg; pregnant women, 1.4 mg; and breast-feeding women, 1.5 mg.
- Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for treating and preventing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome).
Aneurine Hydrochloride, Antiberiberi Factor, Antiberiberi Vitamin, Antineuritic Factor, Antineuritic Vitamin, B Complex Vitamin, Chlorhydrate de Thiamine, Chlorure de Thiamine, Complexe de Vitamine B, Facteur Anti-béribéri, Facteur Antineuritique, Hydrochlorure de Thiamine, Mononitrate de Thiamine, Nitrate de Thiamine, Thiamine Chloride, Thiamine HCl, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Nitrate, Thiaminium Chloride Hydrochloride, Tiamina, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B-1, Vitamina B1, Vitamine Anti-béribéri, Vitamine Antineuritique, Vitamine B1.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Thiamine (Vitamin B1) page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/965.html.
- Ives AR, Paskewitz SM. Testing vitamin B as a home remedy against mosquitoes. J Am Mosq Control Assoc 2005;21:213-7.
- Rabbani N, Alam SS, Riaz S, et al. High-dose thiamine therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study. Diabetologia 2009;52:208-12.
- Jacques PF, Taylor A, Moeller S, et al. Long-term nutrient intake and 5-year change in nuclear lens opacities. Arch Ophthalmol 2005;123:517-26.
- Babaei-Jadidi R, Karachalias N, Ahmed N, et al. Prevention of incipient diabetic nephropathy by high-dose thiamine and benfotiamine. Diabetes. 2003;52:2110-20.
- Alston TA. Does metformin interfere with thiamine?--Reply. Arch Intern Med 2003;163:983.
- Koike H, Iijima M, Sugiura M, et al. Alcoholic neuropathy is clinicopathologically distinct from thiamine-deficiency neuropathy. Ann Neurol 2003;54:19-29.
- Wilkinson TJ, Hanger HC, Elmslie J, et al. The response to treatment of subclinical thiamine deficiency in the elderly. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;66:925-8.
- Day E, Bentham P, Callaghan R, et al. Thiamine for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in people at risk from alcohol abuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;:CD004033.
- Hernandez BY, McDuffie K, Wilkens LR, et al. Diet and premalignant lesions of the cervix: evidence of a protective role for folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B12. Cancer Causes Control 2003;14:859-70.
- Berger MM, Shenkin A, Revelly JP, et al. Copper, selenium, zinc, and thiamine balances during continuous venovenous hemodiafiltration in critically ill patients. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:410-6.
Hamon NW, Awang DVC. Horsetail. Can Pharm J 1992:399-401.
- Vir SC, Love AH. Effect of oral contraceptive agents on thiamin status. Int J Vit Nutr Res 1979;49:291-5.
- Briggs MH, Briggs M. Thiamine status and oral contraceptives. Contraception 1975;11:151-4.
- De Reuck JL, Sieben GJ, Sieben-Praet MR, et al. Wernicke's encephalopathy in patients with tumors of the lymphoid-hemopoietic systems. Arch Neurol 1980;37:338-41.
- Ulusakarya A, Vantelon JM, Munck JN, et al. Thiamine deficiency in a patient receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloblastic leukemia (letter). Am J Hematol 1999;61:155-6.
- Aksoy M, Basu TK, Brient J, Dickerson JW. Thiamin status of patients treated with drug combinations containing 5-fluorouracil. Eur J Cancer 1980;16:1041-5.
- Thorp VJ. Effect of oral contraceptive agents on vitamin and mineral requirements. J Am Diet Assoc 1980;76:581-4.
- Somogyi JC, Nageli U. Antithiamine effect of coffee. Int J Vit Nutr Res 1976;46:149-53.
- Waldenlind L. Studies on thiamine and neuromuscular transmission. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl 1978;459:1-35.
- Hilker DM, Somogyi JC. Antithiamins of plant origin: their chemical nature and mode of action. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1982;378:137-44.
- Smidt LJ, Cremin FM, Grivetti LE, Clifford AJ. Influence of folate status and polyphenol intake on thiamin status in Irish women. Am J Clin Nutr 1990;52:1077-92.
- Vimokesant S, Kunjara S, Rungruangsak K, et al. Beriberi caused by antithiamin factors in food and its prevention. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1982;378:123-36.
- Vimokesant S, Nakornchai S, Rungruangsak K, et al. Food habits causing thiamine deficiency in humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 1976;22:1-2.
- Lewis CM, King JC. Effect of oral contraceptive agents on thiamin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid status in young women. Am J Clin Nutr 1980;33:832-8.
- Patrini C, Perucca E, Reggiani C, Rindi G. Effects of phenytoin on the in vivo kinetics of thiamine and its phosphoesters in rat nervous tissues. Brain Res 1993;628:179-86.
- Botez MI, Joyal C, Maag U, Bachevalier J. Cerebrospinal fluid and blood thiamine concentrations in phenytoin-treated epileptics. Can J Neurol Sci 1982;9:37-9.
- Botez MI, Botez T, Ross-Chouinard A, Lalonde R. Thiamine and folate treatment of chronic epileptic patients: a controlled study with the Wechsler IQ scale. Epilepsy Res 1993;16:157-63.
- Lubetsky A, Winaver J, Seligmann H, et al. Urinary thiamine excretion in the rat: effects of furosemide, other diuretics, and volume load. J Lab Clin Med 1999;134:232-7.
- Saif MW. Is there a role for thiamine in the management of congestive heart failure? (letter) South Med J 2003;96:114-5.
- Leslie D, Gheorghiade M. Is there a role for thiamine supplementation in the management of heart failure? Am Heart J 1996;131:1248-50.
- Levy WC, Soine LA, Huth MM, Fishbein DP. Thiamine deficiency in congestive heart failure (letter). Am J Med 1992;93:705-6.
- Webster MJ. Physiological and performance responses to supplementation with thiamin and pantothenic acid derivatives. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1998;77:486-91.
- Alston TA. Does metformin interfere with thiamine? (letter) Arch Int Med 2003;163:983.
- Tanphaichitr V. Thiamin. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, Eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. pg.381-9.
- Goldin BR, Lichtenstein AH, Gorbach SL. Nutritional and metabolic roles of intestinal flora. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 8th ed. Malvern, PA: Lea & Febiger, 1994.
- Cumming RG, Mitchell P, Smith W. Diet and cataract: the Blue Mountains Eye Study. Ophthalmology 2000;10:450-6.
- Kuroki F, Iida M, Tominaga M, et al. Multiple vitamin status in Crohn's disease. Correlation with disease activity. Dig Dis Sci 1993;38:1614-8.
- Yates AA, Schlicker SA, Suitor CW. Dietary reference intakes: The new basis for recommendations for calcium and related nutrients, B vitamins, and choline. J Am Diet Assoc 1998;98:699-706.
- Beers MH, Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 17th ed. West Point, PA: Merck and Co., Inc., 1999.
- Seligmann H, Halkin H, Rauchfleisch S, et al. Thiamine deficiency in patients with congestive heart failure receiving long-term furosemide therapy: a pilot study. Am J Med 1991;91:151-5.
- Pfitzenmeyer P, Guilland JC, d'Athis P, et al. Thiamine status of elderly patients with cardiac failure including the effects of supplementattion. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1994;64:113-8.
- Shimon I, Almog S, Vered Z, et al. Improved left ventricular function after thiamine supplementation in patients with congestive heart failure receiving long-term furosemide therapy. Am J Med 1995;98:485-90.
- Brady JA, Rock CL, Horneffer MR. Thiamin status, diuretic medications, and the management of congestive heart failure. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:541-4.
- McKevoy GK, ed. AHFS Drug Information. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 1998.
- Show more references
- Show fewer references
Last reviewed - 09/04/2013
This copyrighted, evidence-based medicine resource is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disclaims any responsibility related to consequences of using any product. This monograph should not replace advice from a healthcare professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 Therapeutic Research Faculty
, publishers of Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
, Prescriber’s Letter
, Pharmacist’s Letter
. All rights reserved. For scientific data on natural medicines, professionals may consult the Professional Version of Natural Medicines Comprehensive DatabaseNatural Medicines Comprehensive Database (http://www.naturaldatabase.com/)