Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
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Thiamine (also spelled "thiamin") is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin, previously known as vitamin B1 or aneurine. Thiamine was isolated and characterized in the 1920s and thus was one of the first organic compounds to be recognized as a vitamin.
Thiamine is involved in numerous body functions, including nervous system and muscle functioning; the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells (through ion channels); multiple enzyme processes (via the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate); carbohydrate metabolism; and the production of hydrochloric acid (which is necessary for proper digestion). Because there is very little thiamine stored in the body, depletion can occur quickly, within 14 days.
Severe chronic thiamine deficiency (beriberi) can result in potentially serious complications involving the nervous system, brain, muscles, heart, and gastrointestinal system.
Dietary sources of thiamine include beef, brewer's yeast, legumes (beans, lentils), milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, rice, seeds, wheat, whole-grain cereals, and yeast. In industrialized countries, foods made with white rice or white flour are often fortified with thiamine, because most of the naturally occurring thiamine is lost during the refinement process.
Thiamine is used as part of a treatment for metabolic disorders (including subacute necrotizing encephalopathy, maple syrup urine disease, pyruvate carboxylase deficiency, and hyperalaninemia) and thiamine deficiency symptoms (including beriberi, Wernicke's encephalopathy, Korsakoff's psychosis, and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome), and in alcoholic individuals. It has been studied as part of a treatment for other uses, but conclusions cannot be drawn at this time.