What is Vitamin B1?

Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamine, is an essential nutrient with numerous functions inside the body. But why is this vitamin so important for a healthy brain and heart?


The human body needs a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients to function normally and more importantly, stay alive. Some vitamins are essential, meaning we can't produce them ourselves – they need to be consumed through our diet instead. Vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine, is one essential vitamin that's vital for a healthy brain, heart and circulatory system.

Vitamin B1 was discovered in 1897 and was first extracted in its pure form in 1926. Since then, we've been learning more about how this vitamin works and why it's so important. Vitamin B1 isn't stored in the body for very long – it's a water-soluble vitamin, this means that is rapidly passes through the body. After around two weeks without consuming the vitamin, we run out entirely. This is why we need a constant supply of vitamin B1 in our diet – many foods, like cereals and breads, are fortified with the vitamin (meaning it's added in during production).

Men and women under 65 need 1,000ug and 800ug respectively of Vitamin B1 daily, according to the NHS1. For those over 65, the requirements are slightly more difficult to calculate – people in this age group need 400ug of vitamin B1 for every 1,000 calories consumed2. These are the average recommended daily intake levels for different age groups, but some people may need significantly more or less. Although vitamin B1 deficiency is now rare in the UK, it's still somewhat prevalent among the elderly. In 2000, it was estimated that up to 40% of care home residents were deficient to some extent3.

The primary role of vitamin B1 is breaking down carbohydrates into sugars, which our body uses as an energy source, fuelling our heart, brain and other organs4. The vitamin also helps to protect nerves around the body and neurons in the brain. Not absorbing enough of this essential vitamin can cause neuritis, inflammation of the nerves which carry crucial signals around our body5.

In one study on people with heart failure, daily B1 supplementation reportedly improved people's heart function. They hypothesized that vitamin B1 deficiency may be linked with heart failure. Having low levels of vitamin B1 in an otherwise healthy person's diet has also been associated with depression, a condition that can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Supplementing with the vitamin reportedly improved work-stress-related mood swings6 and helped manage symptoms of depression in those with major depressive disorder7.

It can be hard to calculate how much Vitamin B1 you're getting daily. Most people don't have enough time to be checking food packaging and working out what vitamins, minerals and nutrients they're consuming each and every day. Kwai Heartcare+ with Japanese Black Garlic provides you with precisely 830ug of Vitamin B1 to supplement a healthy diet and support normal heart function, as well as 450mg of Black Garlic and 2,700μg of Allicin. Each easy-to-swallow, daily tablet helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and resist temporary oxidative stress. Kwai Heartcare+ with Japanese Black Garlic is available in packs of 30 and 100 tablets.

1 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-b/

2 https://cot.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/cot/vitmin2003.pdf

3 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12526811_Thiamine_deficiency_in_elderly_people

4 https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/vitamins.html?start=6

5 https://www.nature.com/articles/nrneurol.2010.16

6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21905094/

7 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26984349/