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When you think about B vitamins, the key benefit that often comes to mind is energy. And it’s true that vitamin B1 – as well as many of the other vitamins that come under the “B” banner – helps the body to effectively use energy-yielding nutrients, such as fat, protein, and carbohydrates*. But it can do much more than that, too. So, what is vitamin B1, and what other benefits does it provide? Here’s the low down.

What is vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine or thiamin, is a water-soluble vitamin: it’s a nutrient that the body needs for important processes, but that it can’t synthesize or (being water-soluble) store itself. Luckily, this vitamin can be found in plenty of foods, such as eggs, wholegrain breads, liver, peas, fresh fruit and veg, and some fortified breakfast cereals.

One of vitamin B1’s functions in the body is to break down and release energy from food*, but there are other benefits of vitamin B1 that get talked about a little less – which brings us to our next question …

What is vitamin B1 good for?

Now you know more about what it is, let’s talk about what the functions of vitamin B1 are. Our body needs its help in a number of important areas:

  1. Heart function. Vitamin B1 contributes to the normal functioning of the heart**. Of course, there are a number of things that can affect heart health, and it’s important to keep an eye on them all – but eating enough vitamin B1 is one good way to help take care of it.
  2. The metabolism. Our bodies get their energy from foods containing fat, carbohydrates and protein, but they need help in order to actually use that fuel. And that’s where vitamin B1 comes in! It supports the release of energy from carbohydrates contributing to a normal energy-yielding metabolism*.
  3. The nervous system*. The nervous system helps the body and brain communicate: it’s the network of nerves and special cells whose job it is to transmit messages from the brain and spinal cord to all the different parts of the body, and vice versa. Vitamin B1 contributes to the normal function of the nervous system.
  4. Psychological function. This is one of the lesser-known benefits of vitamin B1 that have been approved by The European Food Safety Authority (as have all of the benefits on our list): it contributes to normal psychological function**.

How to keep your vitamin B1 levels up

So, it turns out there are multiple benefits of vitamin B1 – but how can you make sure that your body gets enough of it? The NHS recommends a daily intake of 1mg for men, and 0.8mg for women. Here’s a quick list of foods to help you add vitamin B1 to your diet:

  • Wholegrain bread = 0.126mg of vitamin B1 per slice.
  • Fortified plain oats = 0.125mg of vitamin B1 per serving (28g).
  • Green peas = 0.1mg of vitamin B1 per 40g serving.
  • Eggs = 0.020mg of vitamin B1 per egg (50g)

So that’s our run down on vitamin B1! With all these benefits, why not try adding some to your diet? And if you’d like to find out more about getting a heart-friendly diet and lifestyle, download our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit! It’s packed with expert advice, handy food guides, and exercise tips to help you make positive changes, easily.

*Thiamine contributes to a normal energy-yielding metabolism and functioning of the nervous system.
**Thiamine contributes to normal psychological and heart function.