Thiamine or B1 is an important vitamin involved in the use of sugars for energy, muscle function, nervous system health, and digestion. Chronic deficiencies of vitamin B1 can lead to severe neurological, muscular, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal disorders. Plants, bacteria, and fungi all manufacture their own thiamine, but animals are incapable of making this vitamin and must get it from food.
Unfortunately, synthetic forms of thiamine have made their way into our vitamins and our food. The natural form of thiamine is rather susceptible to damage from heat, pH, UV, and x-rays. The synthetic form is more stable, so it has been added to many of our more processed foods where the natural thiamine has been destroyed. White flour is often enriched with the synthetic form of thiamine.
So the question must be asked, is this synthetic version of B1 safe? Synthetic thiamine comes as thiamine hydrochloride or thiamine mononitrate. These forms are not found in nature but are created from coal tar derivatives, corrosive acids, and solvents like acetone and ammonia. They do not take the same form as the natural compounds, are crystalline in nature, are more toxic, and don’t act the same within the body.
Natural thiamine is water soluble. This means it is easily absorbed and easily removed from the body. Thiamine mononitrate is fat soluble. It is not as easily absorbed and is also harder to remove from the body. It sticks in the kidneys, acting as a toxin that can damage tissue and contribute to kidney stones. As a toxin, it also leads to unnecessary fat storage, adding to our obesity problems. Natural thiamine is nontoxic even in high doses while the synthetic versions cause allergic reaction, kidney problems, and contribute to infertility.
The synthetic thiamine may offer initial relief for many people, banishing fatigue and other symptoms, but this is a temporary benefit. Synthetic B1 must be converted by the body into a usable form. The body dips into reserves to do so, quickly uses these little reservoirs up, and the fatigue returns. Whole-food vitamins come with many of the needed cofactors needed to make the conversion process occur and in more easily converted forms. Many natural food-based vitamins do not require conversion. Isolated synthetics, on the other hand, come alone and almost always require conversion. This leaches the body of much needed resources. Synthetics are not food and they are not healthy.
The natural form of thiamine is easy to come by. Just avoid processed foods and eat plenty of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, herbs, spices, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, peas, oatmeal, brown rice, oranges, and asparagus. A form of thiamine that has been gaining attention for those with diabetes is benfotiamine. This can be found naturally in garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and green onions. Eat well, minimally process your food, and you will get plenty of natural thiamine to keep you well while avoiding the toxic side effects of the synthetics. You can also find an all-natural multivitamin that actually uses whole-food sources for all the vitamins, including thiamine. These are hard to find, but there are a few out there.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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