Vitamin B1 – Thiamine
A) ESSENTIAL COENZYME
Vitamin B1 is an essential coenzyme (non-protein portion of an enzyme) of the enzyme thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP), which is required for the production of energy, metabolism of carbohydrates and proper nerve function. A severe deficiency in B1 leads to beriberi (manifested in symptoms such as confusion, oedema, emaciation, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular dysfunction (e.g. hypertension) and walking difficulties), while other signs and symptoms are associated with less severe deficiencies (see below). Other than lack of intake, B1 deficiency can be caused or severely worsened by alcohol abuse or excessive carbohydrate intake.
B) NERVE FUNCTION
Vitamin B1 is needed for the synthesis, and possibly the release, of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (a chemical messenger required for memory and proper mental function, as well as nerve and muscle function). This association with acetylcholine may explain many of the mental and neuromuscular symptoms caused by B1 deficiency. Supplementing B1 is not only valuable in preventing impairment of mental and nervous dysfunction, but also has shown therapeutic effectiveness in certain disorders linked to acetylcholine abnormalities.