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Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Deficiency

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) deficiency is quite rare as it is easily found in many foods, so that few people are seriously deficient. The only people that may be at risk of deficiency are:

  • People that are over 65 years
    People that are over 65 years of age may not be absorbing the vitamin B1 (thiamin) from the foods they are eating and may not be eating properly too. They may need vitamin B1 (thiamin) supplementation to ensure that they do not become deficient.
  • People that are under prolonged stress
    People that are under prolonged and chronic stress may be using up most of their stores of vitamin B1 (thiamin) to deal with the metabolic processes that the stress is causing, so may not be getting enough vitamin B1 (thiamin) to deal with the high usage due to the stress and may become deficient. Supplementation is advised for people who are stressed, but not just of vitamin B1 (thiamin), the other B vitamins and other nutrients are also required too.
  • People that diet frequently
    People that are always on some type of calorie restrictive diet (less than 1500 calories) may not be including enough foods that are high vitamin B1 (thiamin) in their diet and may become deficient. Most calorie restrictive diets do recommend supplements as an adjunct to the diet in some recognition that the diet could be too low in many nutrients.
  • People that drink alcohol excessively
    People that drink excessive amounts of alcohol may have low levels of vitamin B1 (thiamin) as alcohol can block intestinal absorption of vitamin B1 (thiamin) in the intestine. People that are chronic and long term alcoholics will most likely be deficient in this vitamin and will need supplementation.
  • People that fast
    People that fast, either on a particular food or by eating very of certain foods, greatly restricting their calorie (and food) intake will not be getting enough vitamin B1 (thiamin) nor will they be getting enough of many other nutrients and will be deficient if the fast continues for more than one day. These types of diets are not recommended, but if they are undertaken, people should also take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure there is no deficiency.
  • People that have recently undergone surgery
    People that have undergone surgery may need extra vitamin B1 (thiamin) as most of their stores will be used up in helping heal the body from the surgery, whatever type of surgery. People that have recently undergone surgery (or who are about to have surgery) will need to discuss supplementation with their medical practitioner to determine how much and when vitamin B1 (thiamin) and other vitamins and minerals should be taken after surgery.
People that are under prolonged and chronic stress may be using most of their stores of vitamin B1 (thiamin) to deal with the metabolic processes the stress is causing
  • People with an overactive thyroid
    People that have an overactive thyroid (a condition called hyperthyroidism) may become deficient in vitamin B1 (thiamin) due to the thyroid's effect of stimulating increased metabolism and using up or excreting too much of the vitamin B1 (thiamin).
  • People with chronic or acute infections
    People that experience chronic or acute infections (such as bronchitis, influenza) that cause fever (from low grade to high grade) may have lowered vitamin B1 (thiamin) levels because the fever causes the body metabolism to speed up and use up more of the vitamin stores, so more is required. This could cause a vitamin B1 (thiamin) deficiency, especially if the fever and infection is severe or ongoing.
  • People with diabetes
    Recent research shows that people who have diabetes may be excreting a great deal of their vitamin B1 (thiamin) through their urine. If the diabetes is not being managed properly, it can cause a great deal of vitamin B1 (thiamin) loss and result in a deficiency which will need supplementation.
  • People with liver disease
    People with liver disease may not be able to absorb or utilise vitamin B1 (thiamin) properly and so may become deficient when levels become too low for good health.
  • People with prolonged diarrhoea
    People with prolonged diarrhoea (that occurs over many days to weeks), may be excreting too much of their absorbed vitamin B1 (thiamin) through the diarrhoea and could be deficient in many nutrients, not just in vitamin B1 (thiamin).
  • Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding
    Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding will be passing on a significant amount of their intake of vitamin B1 (thiamin) to their child and if the pregnant or breastfeeding woman is not eating enough foods rich in vitamin B1 (thiamin), then the baby may not be getting enough resulting in deficiency for both mother and child.


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