Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

In the book, Dr. Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Nature’s Vitamins & Minerals, Dr. Heinerman tells of the time he spent with Dr. W. Henry Sebrell, an expert in B vitamins. Dr. Sebrell called attention to the fact that many of the mentally ill and institutionalized elderly have always shown subclinical thiamine deficiencies. He noted, “It is quite common for 50 percent or better of patients under psychiatric care to regularly show low levels of B1.” He explained that reduced thiamine content can also spell trouble for another B vitamin, choline. Choline plays a major role in the transmission of nerve impulses at the synapses.

According to Dr. Sebrell, thiamine is also important in helping to excrete excess lead from the body, turn around disturbed heart rhythms, elevate low blood pressure, stabilize shortness of breath, reduce swelling of the legs and feet, and protect against kidney and cardiac failures.

Excellent Food Sources

  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Brown Rice
  • Millet
  • Rye
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried Beans (especially soybeans)
  • Poultry
  • Liver
  • Fish
  • Lobster
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Nuts (cashews and pecans especially)
  • Seafood
  • Seaweed (dulse, kelp)
  • Enriched Bread

Eating foods in raw form is the best way to get thiamine as it is heat-sensitive and destroyed when food is cooked.

Important Points

  • Processing procedures such as milling grains or flour, curing meats, irradiating, canning, freezing, adding sulfites, and pasteurizing and evaporating milk all destroy many of the B vitamins
  • The peeling of a fruit or vegetable, cooking foods in water, and long-term storage cause loss of B vitamins.
  • Exposing foods to light results in loss of B vitamins, especially B6 and B2
  • According to Lauri M. Aesoph, N.D., a natural health practitioner, anyone on medication should be taking B vitamins


Heinerman, John. Dr. Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Nature’s Vitamins and Minerals. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1998. Print.

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