URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/965.html


What is it?

Thiamine is a vitamin, also called vitamin B1. Vitamin B1 is found in many foods including yeast, cereal grains, beans, nuts, and meat. It is often used in combination with other B vitamins, and found in many vitamin B complex products. Vitamin B complexes generally include vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin/niacinamide), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and folic acid. However, some products do not contain all of these ingredients and some may include others, such as biotin, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), choline bitartrate, and inositol.

People take thiamine for conditions related to low levels of thiamine (thiamine deficiency syndromes), including beriberi and inflammation of the nerves (neuritis) associated with pellagra or pregnancy.

Thiamine is also used for digestive problems including poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and ongoing diarrhea.

Thiamine is also used for AIDS and boosting the immune system, diabetic pain, heart disease, alcoholism, aging, a type of brain damage called cerebellar syndrome, canker sores, vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, and motion sickness. Other uses include preventing cervical cancer and progression of kidney disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Some people use thiamine for maintaining a positive mental attitude; enhancing learning abilities; increasing energy; fighting stress; and preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer's disease.

Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for a memory disorder called Wernicke's encephalopathy syndrome, other thiamine deficiency syndromes in critically ill people, alcohol withdrawal, and coma.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for THIAMINE are as follows:

Effective for...

  • Metabolic disorders. Taking thiamine by mouth helps correct certain inherited metabolic disorders, including Leigh's disease, maple syrup urine disease, and others.
  • Thiamine deficiency. Taking thiamine by mouth helps prevent and treat thiamine deficiency.
  • Brain disorder due to thiamine deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome). Thiamine helps decrease the risk and symptoms of a specific brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). This brain disorder is related to low levels of thiamine. It is often seen in alcoholics. Giving thiamine shots seems to help decrease the risk of developing WKS and decrease symptoms of WKS during alcohol withdrawal.

Possibly effective for...

  • Cataracts. High thiamine intake as part of the diet is associated with reduced odds of developing cataracts.
  • Kidney disease in people with diabetes. Early research shows that taking high-dose thiamine (300 mg daily) decreases the amount of albumin in the urine in people with type 2 diabetes. Albumin in the urine is an indication of kidney damage.
  • Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). Taking thiamine seems to reduce menstrual pain in teenage girls and young women.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Repelling mosquitos. Some research shows that taking B vitamins, including thiamine, does not help to repel mosquitos.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Preventing cervical cancer. Increased intake of thiamine and other B vitamins is linked with a decreased risk of precancerous spots on the cervix.
  • Shingles (herpes zoster). Injecting thiamine under the skin seems to reduce itch but not pain in people with shingles.
  • Prediabetes. Early research shows that taking thiamine by mouth helps decrease post-meal blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.
  • Aging.
  • AIDS.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Brain conditions.
  • Canker sores.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Heart disease.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Stress.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate thiamine for these uses.

How does it work?

Thiamine is required by our bodies to properly use carbohydrates. It also helps maintain proper nerve function.

Are there safety concerns?

Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts, although rare allergic reactions and skin irritation have occurred. It is also LIKELY SAFEwhen given appropriately intravenously (by IV) or as a shot into the muscle by a healthcare provider. Thiamine shots are an FDA-approved prescription product.

Thiamine might not properly enter the body in some people who have liver problems, drink a lot of alcohol, or have other conditions.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Thiamine is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 1.4 mg daily. Not enough is known about the safety of using larger amounts during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Alcoholism and a liver disease called cirrhosis: Alcoholics and people with cirrhosis often have low levels of thiamine. Nerve pain in alcoholism can be worsened by thiamine deficiency. These people might require thiamine supplements.

Critical illness: People that are critically ill such as those that had surgery might have low levels of thiamine. These people might require thiamine supplements.

Hemodialysis: People undergoing hemodialysis treatments might have low levels of thiamine. They might require thiamine supplements.

Syndromes in which it is difficult for the body to absorb nutrients (malabsorption syndromes): People with malabsorption syndromes may have low levels of thiamine. The might require thiamine supplements.

Are there interactions with medications?

It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Areca (betel) nuts change thiamine chemically so it doesn't work as well. Regular, long-term chewing of betel nuts may contribute to thiamine deficiency.
Horsetail (Equisetum) contains a chemical that can destroy thiamine in the stomach, possibly leading to thiamine deficiency. The Canadian government requires that equisetum-containing products be certified free of this chemical. Stay on the safe side, and don't use horsetail if you are at risk for thiamine deficiency.

Are there interactions with foods?

Coffee and tea
Chemicals in coffee and tea called tannins can react with thiamine, converting it to a form that is difficult for the body to take in. This could lead to thiamine deficiency. Interestingly, thiamine deficiency has been found in a group of people in rural Thailand who drink large amounts of tea (>1 liter per day) or chew fermented tea leaves long-term. However, this effect hasn't been found in Western populations, despite regular tea use. Researchers think the interaction between coffee and tea and thiamine may not be important unless the diet is low in thiamine or vitamin C. Vitamin C seems to prevent the interaction between thiamine and the tannins in coffee and tea.
Raw freshwater fish and shellfish contain chemicals that destroy thiamine. Eating a lot of raw fish or shellfish can contribute to thiamine deficiency. However, cooked fish and seafood are OK. They don't have any effect on thiamine, since cooking destroys the chemicals that harm thiamine.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • For adults with low levels of thiamine: the usual dose of thiamine is 5-30 mg daily in either a single dose or divided doses for one month. The typical dose for severe deficiency can be up to 300 mg per day.
  • For metabolic disorders: 10-20 mg of thiamine daily is recommended, although 600-4000 mg daily in divided doses may be needed for Leigh's disease.
  • For reducing the risk of getting cataracts: a daily dietary intake of approximately 10 mg of thiamine has been used.
  • For kidney disease in people with diabetes: 100 mg of thiamine three times daily for 3 months has been used.
  • For painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea): 100 mg of thiamine, alone or along with 500 mg of fish oil, has been used daily for up to 90 days.
As a dietary supplement in adults, 1-2 mg of thiamine per day is commonly used. The daily recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of thiamine are: Infants 0-6 months, 0.2 mg; infants 7-12 months, 0.3 mg; children 1-3 years, 0.5 mg; children 4-8 years, 0.6 mg; boys 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; men 14 years and older, 1.2 mg; girls 9-13 years, 0.9 mg; women 14-18 years, 1 mg; women over 18 years, 1.1 mg; pregnant women, 1.4 mg; and breast-feeding women, 1.5 mg.

  • For treating and preventing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome): Healthcare providers give shots containing 5-200 mg of thiamine once daily for 2 days.

Other names

Aneurine Hydrochloride, Antiberiberi Factor, Antiberiberi Vitamin, Antineuritic Factor, Antineuritic Vitamin, B Complex Vitamin, Chlorhydrate de Thiamine, Chlorure de Thiamine, Complexe de Vitamine B, Facteur Anti-béribéri, Facteur Antineuritique, Hydrochlorure de Thiamine, Mononitrate de Thiamine, Nitrate de Thiamine, Thiamine Chloride, Thiamine HCl, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Nitrate, Thiaminium Chloride Hydrochloride, Tiamina, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B-1, Vitamina B1, Vitamine Anti-béribéri, Vitamine Antineuritique, Vitamine B1.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 11/06/2017