Getting to Know Vitamin B1

I am not going to sit here and insult your intelligence and ask if you know what vitamins are. Everyone has heard of them, but do you know what vitamins really are? I’m not talking about the Flintstones ones you probably still take an adult, either. Do you know what vitamins actually are and what they can do for you? How about which vitamins are the ones you should be focusing on? There are a ton of them, but have you ever heard of Vitamin B1 and its benefits? If not, in about 10 minutes you are going to know a lot.

But before we get to B1, let’s answer a rather important question for background context. What’s a vitamin?

The quick answer is that they are organic compounds that do a surprising lot for us. They help us build new cells, repair existing cells or tissues, and generally keep us afloat. Vitamins impact hormone levels, immune system function, and overall health as well as cognitive function, blood function, and pretty much everything else.

They are different from micronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), but are just as important. And, just like proteins, vitamins come in essential and non-essential forms. The 13 essential vitamins humans require are those that we need to consume in our diets while the remaining non-essential vitamins are vitamins we can make ourselves to an extent such as biotin and Vitamin D.

Today we’re going to learn about one of those essential vitamins named Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, and what it can do for us.

Let’s explore it.

A Basic Understanding of Thiamine

Alright, everyone. First off, Vitamin B1 is – drum roll – a member of the B vitamin family (obviously). What does that mean, exactly?

That means it is water soluble (dissolves in water, not fat). It is also necessary for helping turn fats and carbohydrates into energy and who can’t use more energy on a daily basis?

Thiamine’s Jobs in the Body

B1 doesn’t rest on its laurels. It keeps busy helping our bodies in some spectacular ways, like:

  • Changing the food we eat into energy ⚡
  • Making sure our brains think clearly 🧠
  • Keeping our hearts healthy and happy ❤️
  • Supporting our nerve cells for quick reflexes 🏃‍♀️

Such a small thing is responsible for so many crucial functions in our bodies. Crazy, right?

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Keeping Nerves In Check

What else does our talented Thiamine do? It helps our nerves function smoothly and efficiently. Thanks to Thiamine, you can sprint, dance, and shoot hoops while having the energy and nervous system support to do it.

It plays a role in how our muscles contract and in how our nerves send/receive messages to/from the brain. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a good thing, but just in case here we go:

Muscle contraction is necessary for any type of movement, but without it there is no lifting, no dancing, no shooting hoops, or any other type of physical activity.

And, nervous system messaging is how the muscles receive the ‘order’ to contract/release. Once again, no messages, or inhibited messaging, means none of the above activities can be done.

Thiamine’s Importance in Fitness

I’ve already kind of touched on it, but how can thiamine help us when it comes to fitness? Well, it turns out in lots of ways.

Thiamine, the Fitness Ally

Thiamine is like the Flash of vitamins. ‘There you go again making weird analogies.’

Yup.

When we move more, our body needs a lot more energy. And one of the main players in energy production is our friend Thiamine.

The primary energy source in our body is Adenosine Triphosphate. This is a compound consisting of one adenosine molecule and three phosphates. When the bond between the adenosine molecule and one phosphate is broken, energy is released, and the cell is powered. That is how our cells get the majority of their energy.

Once that bond is broken the ATP molecule becomes Adenosine Diphosphate and requires another phosphate bond before it can be used again. This is where Thiamine comes into play.

A Nutrient Metabolizing Superhero

How does Thiamine pull this off? It’s all about the way it helps break down and metabolize nutrients. Since it helps metabolize glucose and is a cofactor for the enzymes that produce ATP, without Thiamine (or a major deficit of it) ATP production can be majorly slowed down or stopped.

Now, obviously Thiamine supports our fitness journey because of energy production and other benefits, but imagine trying to run with an empty gas tank.

No ATP = no energy for lifting.

Sad, bro.

There is some fancy scientific description of the process HERE if you are interested. Long story short, Thiamine deficiencies inhibit energy production.

Beware of Thiamine Deficiency

Since it does a lot of things, a Thiamine deficiency can cause all sorts of issues.

Unmasking Thiamine Deficiency: Symptoms and Risks

Thiamine deficiency is when there’s not enough Vitamin B1 in our body. How do you know if you’re dealing with this?

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Feeling weak or tired 😓
  • Numb or tingly feelings 👇
  • Having trouble thinking clearly 🤯
  • Fast heartbeats and breathing problems 💓

Now, listen. Are all of these signs 100% associated with a Thiamine deficiency? No. BUT! If you see them consistently ask your doctor to check your levels.

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How to Ensure You Are Getting Enough Thiamine

How do you ensure you are getting enough Thiamine? Easy. Fix your diet.

Most western diets are very high in white flour, white sugar, and other highly processed carbohydrates. These types of edible products aren’t good for you on a normal day, but they are terrible for you if you are looking for nutrients. Most nutritional value has been bleached out of them and they lack any sort of actual vitamins or minerals unless they were added back in afterwards. Chances are there are no vitamins or minerals in either white flour or white sugar.

So, if your diet consists of a LOT of processed carbs and you want to not only get in some good workouts but also be healthier, fix it now.

Toss the processed trash and base your diet on whole foods sources instead.

Unmasking the Common Sources of Thiamine

Let’s chat about where we can find this vitamin, shall we? It plays hide and seek in many delicious foods.

You can often find it chilling out in:

  • Whole grains – like whole wheat or brown rice 🌾
  • Meat – especially pork and fish 🍖🍤
  • Beans and lentils – like black beans and chickpeas 🌰
  • Seeds and nuts – like sunflower seeds and macadamia nuts 🥜
  • Some fruits and veggies – like oranges and asparagus 🍊🥦

Like I said, whole foods based diet.

As a general rule, the closer a food is to how it is found naturally, the more nutrients are you are going to find in it and the better it is going to be for you.

The Thiamine Daily Dose

First, how much of the Mighty B1 does your body need every day? Well, for kids aged 9-13, around 0.9 mg is what we need. As we grow into teenagers and adults, men should aim for about 1.2 mg, and women should aim for around 1.1 mg. It sounds tiny, but this little amount packs a punch!

When Supplements Join The Crew

You might be wondering, “What if I can’t get enough Thiamine from food?” Enter Thiamine supplements! They’re like little reinforcements ready to join the mission. However, they’re not for everyone, and before taking these, talk to a health advisor. Some supplements can actually be dangerous and all forms of Vitamin B can cause really bad side effects if too much is consumed.

Recapping Our Thiamine Adventure

We kicked it off with Thiamine talking about how it keeps us energized during our favorite sports and activities. Be it soccer, biking, yoga, or a simple sprint around the neighborhood.

Then we talked about Thiamine deficiency. Remember: fast heartbeats, breathing problems, tiredness, and numb feelings are not good signs in any circumstance.

Then I talked about yet another reason to focus on whole foods based diets: Thiamine intake. Whole grains, peas, lean meats, nuts, and seeds.

Finally, we talked about backups – aka Thiamine supplements!

Hope you learned something new about Vitamin B1 its benefits!

Let Us help You Out

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.

The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.

Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.

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Author Pic: Brandon

Brandon's Approach to Training

I'm not just any fitness coach. I'm the engine behind CONDITIONerd. My history is packed with sports from my school days, nearly a decade serving as a Marine, and over 17 years tackling every challenge the fitness world could throw at me.
I'm certified in everything that counts—personal training, sports nutrition, bodybuilding, and even corrective exercises to keep you injury-free. At CONDITIONerd, I'm all about setting down the challenge for you to break your limits. No taking the easy way out.

This is your adventure, but remember, I've got your back every step of the way. Are you ready to boost your game? Let’s do this, and let’s do it right

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