Vitamin B1 Thiamin Facts

Vitamin B1 Thiamin Facts

Thiamin, which is also commonly referred to as vitamin B1, is an essential vitamin from the B complex. It plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, DNA and RNA synthesis, and proper nerve function.
 
The name thiamin comes from the fact that it contains both a thiol (sulfur) group and an amine (nitrogen group). Thiamin bears an important characteristic in common with the other B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, biotin, folate, and vitamin B12) and vitamin C, all of which are water-soluble (as opposed to vitamins A, E, and K, which are fat-soluble). Having the characteristic of water solubility means, if ingested in sufficient amounts, intestinal absorption can take place by simple diffusion.
Another characteristic that thiamin and the other water-soluble vitamins share is that, unlike the fat-soluble vitamins, which can be stored in adipose tissue, water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored by the body in significant amounts or on a long term basis. Therefore, the body depends on new supplies being continuously replenished.
 
The disadvantage created by the body’s limited storage capacity is the need to pay closer attention to having sufficient intake on a day-to-day basis. The advantage of water soluble vitamins such as thiamin is that unneeded excesses amounts do not accumulate and sit around in the body, thereby removing much of the danger of toxicity. In fact, the National Institute of Medicine does not even recognize the concept of toxicity for thiamin.
 
Thiamin is present in the human body in three different forms:  
  • Free thiamin
  • The coenzyme thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP), also known as thiamin diphosphate, (TDP) consisting of two phosphate groups
  • Thiamin triphosphate (TTP) consisting of three phosphate groups
The importance of thiamin was first reported in the late 19 th century by a Dutchman named C. Eijkman, who discovered that fowl being fed a diet of cooked polished rice (without the outer germ and bran layers) developed neurological problems (which we now know to be associated with the disease called beriberi). Thiamin, the nutrient that can correct this condition, was isolated from rice bran in 1912 by Casmir Funk. However, the structure of the vitamin did not become known until the 1930s.