Natural Health Products

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Vitamin B1

General Information

Thiamine (vitamin B1) is a water-soluble B vitamin. People get most of the thiamine they need from food, but some thiamine is made by the body. Good sources of thiamine include grain cereals, legumes, nuts, meat, and yeast.

Common Name(s)
thiamine, thiamin, vitamin B1
Scientific Name(s)
Thiamine, thiamin
How is this product usually used?

Thiamine is readily available in many foods, including beef, beans, lentils, milk, nuts, oats, oranges, wheat, whole-grain cereals, and yeast. As a supplement, thiamine is usually taken by mouth and is often taken together with other B vitamins. It is available in tablet, capsule, chewables, strips, powder, or liquid form. In some cases, thiamine may also be given intramuscularly (injected into a muscle).

The usual amount of thiamine supplement recommended for people 13 years and younger is 0.04 mg to 100 mg per day. People 14 years and older may take 0.07 mg to 100 mg per day.

The recommended amount of thiamine for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding is 1.4 mg per day.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Thiamine is used to:

  • help the body use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy
  • help with normal growth
  • maintain good health
  • prevent and treat thiamine deficiency diseases such as beriberi and peripheral neuritis

People have also used thiamine for:

  • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma
  • loss of appetite
  • diabetic nephropathy (damage to the kidney due to diabetes)
  • gastrointestinal disorders (i.e., any disorders of the mouth, stomach, intestines, or bowels)
  • heart disease
  • metabolic disorders associated with genetic diseases
  • stress
  • canker sores

People who have or are at risk for thiamine deficiency (i.e., low levels of thiamine) may benefit from using supplements. Many conditions can significantly lower thiamine levels, including:

  • alcoholism – over time, thiamine deficiency can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), a condition that affects memory and problem-solving skills
  • anorexia
  • cirrhosis (a condition caused by liver damage, often because of alcoholism)
  • gastrointestinal disorders (i.e., any disorder of the mouth, stomach, intestines, or bowel)
  • people who are on dialysis for kidney failure
  • people who have disorders that reduce the body’s ability to take in nutrients from food may have low thiamine levels
  • people taking diureticdiuretican agent that increases urine flows (medications that increase urine output)

Thiamine supplementation has been shown to be effective in treating thiamine deficiency, metabolic disorders associated with genetic disease (e.g., subacute necrotizing encephalopathy also known as Leigh’s disease, maple syrup urine disease, and lactic acidosis), and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). There is evidence that shows thiamine is possibly effective for diabetic nephropathy, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual period), and cataracts.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Thiamine taken by mouth is safe for most adults when used in the recommended daily amount. Rarely, people may have an allergic reaction to taking thiamine supplements by mouth (i.e., skin swelling, redness, itchiness). If you have an allergic reaction, stop taking the supplement and contact a health care provider.

Taking thiamine injections can cause feelings of warmth, tingling, itching, pain, rash, nausea, weakness, tightening of the throat, and sweating. In some cases, thiamine injections have caused death.

Thiamine appears to be safe for use during pregnancy and while breast-feeding when it is used in the recommended daily amount.

Coffee and tea appear to prevent thiamine from being used properly in the body. For people who get enough thiamine in their diet, this is not usually a problem. People who drink large amounts of coffee or tea and do not get enough thiamine in their diet may be at risk for thiamine deficiency.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

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  • Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Thiamine (Vitamin B1). [updated 2015 January 20; cited 2016 April 25]. Available from:
  • Natural Standard. Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph: Thiamine (Vitamin B1). (Accessed 14 June 2012)
  • Health Canada. Dietary Reference Intakes: Reference Values for Vitamins. (Accessed 14 June 2012)
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