Vitamin B1 Deficiency: What Are The Symptoms?

Numerous plant and animal foods contain vitamin B1. A deficiency can occur, among other things, with an unbalanced diet, during pregnancy, or with gastrointestinal diseases. Among other things, it can lead to problems in the nervous system.

Vitamin B1 plays an important role in our metabolism. Numerous enzymes need the micronutrient, also known as thiamine, to be able to fulfill their tasks. In particular, it is about the utilization of carbohydrates for energy production. A deficiency manifests itself primarily in the area of ​​the nervous system.

What are the common causes of vitamin B1 deficiency?

Since our body can only store small amounts of the vitamin, we have to constantly supply thiamine through food. Strong deficits are known primarily from regions with nutritional deficiencies – the term Beri-Beri for vitamin B1 deficits comes from Asia. Many foods contain this vitamin. However, it is sensitive to heat and is partially lost during cooking or ends up in the cooking water. In addition, an unbalanced diet can lead to insufficient vitamin B1 intake from the outset – especially in phases with increased requirements such as pregnancy. Other risk groups for vitamin B1 deficiency are people with gastrointestinal diseases or liver problems. Alcohol abuse also causes the level of vitamin B1 to drop rapidly.

What are the symptoms of a vitamin B1 deficiency?

At the beginning of a vitamin B1 deficiency, patients usually suffer from rather unspecific symptoms such as sleep disorders, fatigue, memory disorders, or loss of appetite. Neurological symptoms are added later, such as calf cramps, muscle pain, or burning and itching in the extremities. Phases of depressive mood or irritability can also indicate an undersupply of the important vitamin. In the case of a chronic vitamin B1 deficiency, what is known as Wernicke encephalopathy develops, in which nerve cells in the brain are damaged. The cardiovascular system can also be damaged by an insufficient supply of vitamin B1.

Treatment: What can you do about a vitamin B1 deficiency?

If you have symptoms that indicate a vitamin B1 deficiency, you should first have a thorough examination by your doctor so that no diseases are overlooked as a possible cause. A diet-related, minor deficiency can be compensated for by foods rich in vitamin B1, such as whole grain products, legumes, potatoes, or meat. To reduce the loss of vitamins when cooking, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) advises: you should only wash food briefly beforehand, not soak it, and then steam it in a little water. If the doctor diagnoses a serious vitamin B1 deficiency, he will recommend dietary supplements that contain larger amounts of thiamine. Since pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased daily requirement, supplementation generally makes sense. Harmful effects from an overdose are currently not known when taking vitamin B1 in the form of tablets.

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