Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thiamin Vitamin B1

Thiamin, vitamin B1 is another key nutrient for brain health. In this newsletter I will briefly review the role of thiamine in the brain and some food sources for this important vitamin.

I have stated earlier that mitochondrial health is critical to brain health. Without mitochondria making ATP molecules from the food we eat, the brain cells do not have the energy to so their work. They can’t make myelin, they make few neurotransmitters and are unable to repair damage done to the myelin sheath.

Thiamin is involved in supporting mitochondrial function in the brain. Without thiamin mitochondria have more difficulty generating ATP molecules or energy from sugar and carbohydrates. Thiamin is also an important co-factor to help the brain cells make myelin to insulate the nerve.


Ensuring plenty of thiamin in one’s diet is important for anyone with MS. Thiamin is secreted by the kidneys and is generally not stored in the body. It is important to have a steady supply in your diet. Good food sources include sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yeast, asparagus, black beans, cabbage and kale.

How much thiamin can one take safely? Because the body can easily get red of the excess thiamin an upper limit for safe amount of thiamin has not been established.
Physicians have used thiamin to treat alcoholic-related brain damage. Excessive alcohol use can cause severe thiamin deficiency. As a result they develop brain damage causing problems with memory, coordination, balance and problems with heart failure. The typical dose of thiamine given to alcoholics is 100mg per day. Thus it is likely that 100 mg of thiamin each day would generally be safe.

Physicians in the past have advocated high dose thiamin for people with degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Frederich R. Klenner and the Canadian physician, Dr. H.T. Mount, both reported success using nutritional approaches to treat MS based upon liver extract which is a potent source of B vitamins. They believed that high dose thiamin, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacinamide (vitamin B3) were beneficial for those suffering from poor brain health.

Unfortunately, few who eat the western diet consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins. While taking extra thiamin may be very helpful, improving the micronutrient content of your diet overall is a better solution. Eat more mushrooms, nutritional yeast, vegetables and fruit with a goal of consuming at least 9 cups a day is a better solution. That way you get more of the many essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy brain and a healthy body.

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