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Vitamin B1 Deficiency: How Much Do We Need?

Vitamin B1 deficiency often leads to beriberi, a condition that causes spinal cord problems and damage. Weight loss and anorexia nervosa can increase. There may be psychological problems, including confusion and temporary memory loss. Muscles may be weakened, and heart symptoms may develop, for example, an enlarged heart.

How much vitamin B1 do we need?

In the U.S., the recommended daily dose (RDA) for oral thiamin is 1.2 mg for men and 1.1 mg for women over the age of 18. Pregnant or breastfeeding women of any age should consume 1.4 mg each day.

Vitamin B1 deficiency is rare in developed countries. However, a variety of factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Reliance on alcohol
  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Dialysis
  • High diuretic use

Most people do not realize that they have a defect, as many symptoms are hidden and often overlooked.

Here are some signs and symptoms of thiamine deficiency,

Loss of Desire

Another common early sign of thiamine deficiency is the loss of appetite or anorexia. Scientists believe that thiamine plays a key role in regulating appetite. It helps to control the “center of satiety” located in the hypothalamus of the brain. When deficiency occurs, the normal action of the “satiety center” is reversed, making the body feel full or full, even if it is possible. This can lead to loss of appetite.

One study in mice fed a non-thiamine diet for 16 days found that they ate very little food. After 22 days, the mice showed a 69-74% decrease in food intake. Other studies in mice fed a non-thiamine diet also showed a significant decrease in the diet. In both studies, fast-acting foods increased to baseline after re-injection of thiamine.


Fatigue may occur gradually or suddenly. It can range from a slight reduction in strength to extreme fatigue, perhaps depending on the magnitude of the deficiency. Since fatigue is a vague symptom with many potential causes, it is rare to ignore it as a sign of thiamine deficiency.

However, given the important role that thiamine plays in converting food into fuel, it is not surprising that fatigue and lack of energy are common diseases of deficiency. In fact, many studies and cases have linked fatigue and thiamine deficiency.


Anger is a feeling of confusion and frustration. When you are angry, you tend to get angry quickly. Anger can be triggered by a variety of physical, mental, and medical conditions. Anger syndrome is known as one of the first symptoms of thiamine deficiency. It can occur during days or weeks of deficiency. Irritation has been documented mainly in cases involving infants with beriberi, a disease caused by thiamine deficiency.

Reduced Reflexes

Thiamine deficiency can affect motor nerves. If left untreated, damage to your nervous system caused by a deficiency of thiamine can cause a change in your thinking. Reduced or absent thinking in the knees, ankles, and triceps are often seen, and as the deficit persists, it can affect your interaction with mobility. This symptom is often documented in thiamine deficiency that is not found in children.

Measuring Sensitivity to Arms and Legs

Unusual convulsions, piercings, burns, or sensations of “nails and needles” in the upper and lower arms are a condition known as paresthesia. The nerves that reach your arms and legs rely heavily on thiamine function. In cases of deficiency, possible neurological damage, and paresthesia. In fact, patients experience paresthesia in the early stages of thiamine deficiency. Also, studies in mice have shown that thiamine deficiency has led to muscle damage.

Muscle Weakness

General muscle weakness is uncommon, and its cause is often difficult to determine. In the short term, temporary muscle weakness occurs in almost everyone at some point. However, persistence, prolonged muscle spasms for no apparent reason or reason may be a sign of thiamine deficiency. In many cases, patients with thiamine disease have experienced muscle weakness. Moreover, in these cases, muscle weakness is greatly improved after the reuptake of thiamine.

Blurred Vision

Thiamine deficiency can be one of the most common causes of cataracts. Severe deficiency of thiamine can cause inflammation of the optic nerve, causing optic neuropathy. This can lead to blurred vision or loss of vision. Many documented cases link blindness and vision loss with severe thiamine deficiency. Also, patients’ vision improved significantly after the addition of thiamine.

Nausea and Vomiting

Although intestinal symptoms are less common in thiamine deficiency, they are still possible. It is not clear why digestive symptoms can be detected by thiamine deficiency, but documented cases of intestinal symptoms have been resolved after the addition of thiamine.

Vomiting can be very common in children with problems, as it is a common symptom in children who have taken a formula containing thiamine, which is based on soy.

Changes in Heart Rate

Your heartbeat is a measure of how often your heart beats per minute. Interestingly, it can be affected by your thiamine levels. Not enough thiamine can lead to a normal heartbeat. A marked decrease in heart rate has been documented in studies involving mice deficient in thiamine. A rarely slow heartbeat due to thiamine deficiency can cause fatigue, dizziness, and a high risk of fainting.

Shortness of Breath

Given that thiamine deficiency can affect heart function, it can cause shortness of breath, especially at work. This is because thiamine deficiency can sometimes lead to heart failure, which is when the heart is less efficient at pumping blood. This eventually causes difficulty in breathing as fluid accumulates in the lungs. It is important to note that there can be many causes of shortness of breath, so this symptom alone is not usually a symptom of thiamine deficiency.


Multiple studies have linked thiamine deficiency and delirium. Confusion is a serious condition that results in confusion, loss of awareness, and inability to think clearly. In severe cases, thiamine deficiency can lead to Warnick-Corsackoff syndrome, which involves two types of closely related brain damage.

Symptoms often include forgetfulness, memory loss, confusion, and hallucinations. Warneke-Corsackff syndrome is often associated with thiamine deficiency as a result of alcohol abuse. However, thiamine deficiency is also common in older patients and may contribute to urinary incontinence.

Related: Vitamin D Deficiency: Each and Everything You Need to Know


How do you fix B1 deficiency?

The only treatment for thiamine deficiency is thiamine supplementation and changes to any underlying dietary habits that may have caused the deficiency. Thiamine supplementation can be given orally or by injection, depending on the type and cause of thiamine deficiency you have.

How long does it take to recover from vitamin B1 deficiency?

Cardiac dysfunction seen in wet beriberi can be expected to improve within 24 hours of initiation of treatment. Symptoms of dry beriberi may improve or resolve.

How do you test for B1 deficiency?

In conjunction with whole blood or erythrocyte transketolase activity preloading and post-loading, a thiamine loading test is the best indicator of thiamine deficiency. An increase of more than 15% in enzyme activity is a definitive marker of deficiency.


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