› Health benefits
Scientists are studying the effects of thiamin on health.
People with diabetes have low levels of thiamin in their blood. Scientists are studying whether these supplements can improve blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes. They are also studying whether benfotiamine (a synthetic form of thiamin) supplements can help with nerve damage caused by diabetes.
Many people with heart failure have low levels of thiamin. Scientists are studying whether the supplement can help these people.
Scientists are studying the possibility that thiamin deficiency could affect the dementia of Alzheimer’s patients. Further study is needed to determine if thiamin can help with mental function in those with Alzheimer’s.
› How much do I need?
The amount of thiamin needed depends on gender. Men need 1.2 milligrams daily; women need 1.1 milligrams. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and teens need 1.4 milligrams daily.
Most people get enough thiamin from foods, and a thiamin deficiency is rare but can occur. Certain groups of people are more prone to having trouble getting enough thiamin: those with alcohol dependence, older individuals, people with HIV/AIDS or diabetes, and those who have had bariatric surgery.
A deficiency can cause weight and appetite loss, confusion, memory loss, muscle weakness, and heart problems. A more common deficiency in the U.S. is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which mainly affects people with alcoholism. This syndrome causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, severe memory loss, disorientation and confusion.
› In food
Thiamin can be found in many foods and is added to some fortified foods. Whole grains; fortified breads, cereals, pasta and rice; meat (especially pork) and fish; legumes; seeds; and nuts all contain thiamin.
› Dietary supplements
Thiamin can be found in multivitamin/multimineral supplements, in B-complex supplements and in supplements by itself. Common forms include thiamin mononitrate and thiamin hydrochloride. Some supplements use a synthetic form of thiamin called benfotiamine.
Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.