Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is a water-soluble vitamin that is used by almost every cell in your body. The most significant health benefits of vitamin B1 are support for your metabolism and energy levels, as well as maintaining proper heart and nerve function. Thiamine is used in combination with other B vitamins that make up the ‘B vitamin complex’, which helps to regulate important functions of the cardiovascular, endocrine and digestive systems.
Health benefits of Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 helps to maintain a healthy metabolism
Vitamin B1 is needed to support a number of metabolic pathways within your body. It's required to make ATP, the molecule that transports energy within your cells. It also helps to convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is the preferred source of energy that your body uses to keep your metabolism running smoothly, and it helps to break down proteins and fats (1).
Another health benefit of Vitamin B1 is the role it plays in the production of red blood cells, which are required to support ongoing energy.
Vitamin B1 supports your cardiovascular system
It's essential to have enough vitamin B1 in your body to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is required to relay messages between your nerves and muscles, and this is especially key as your heart is one of the main muscles that relies on these vital signals.
To be able to maintain proper cardiac function and healthy heartbeat rhythms, your nerves and muscles must be able to use energy to keep signalling to each other. Vitamin B1 has been shown to help maintain healthy ventricular function and treat heart failure, indicating that a key health benefit of vitamin B1 is that it can help us fight heart disease.
Vitamin B1 supports your nervous system
Thiamine is necessary for the conversion of carbohydrates in your food, and the main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy for your body, especially your brain and nervous system.
Thiamine is needed for a specific system of enzyme reactions called pyruvate dehydrogenase, which works to oxidise sugars that you eat.
Thiamine also helps with proper development of myelin sheaths, which are what wrap around your nerves to protect them from damage and allow for healthy signalling between nerves.
Vitamin B1 supports your brain
Thiamine is a crucial vitamin for increasing energy, focus, fighting stress and supporting overall brain health. Studies have linked thiamine deficiency to difficulty with learning and retaining information, and an increased intake of it was shown to cause quicker reaction times and feelings of mental clarity in those taking tests.
Vitamin B1 supports mood
B complex vitamins, which includes thiamine, are often called the “anti-stress” vitamin, as they improve your body’s resilience to stress. A lack of energy can lead to poor mood and motivation.
It can also reduce the risk of inflammation and help maintain healthy brain function. Healthy nerve function is critical for controlling stress and anxiety and keeping your mood balanced.
Vitamin B1 supports vision
Another important health benefit of vitamin B1 is that it can help defend against vision problems due to its role in muscle and nerve signalling, which is important for relaying information from the eyes to the brain.
A review of the biochemistry, metabolism and clinical benefits of thiamin(e) and its derivatives