Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps maintain a healthy nervous system, improves cardiovascular functioning, enhances the body’s ability to withstand stress, and is necessary to break down fats and proteins, according to Organic Facts. Vitamin B1 also helps convert carbohydrates into glucose, providing energy for the body, maintains muscle tone in the digestive tract, and is beneficial to the liver, skin, hair, eyes and other organs.
Some early symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency include indigestion, irritability, lethargy, memory loss, weight loss and difficulty sleeping, according to Organic Facts. A severe vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to various forms of beriberi, and can cause brain abnormalities, especially in alcoholics. Yeast and liver are the best sources of natural vitamin B1. Other good food sources of vitamin B1 are pork, tuna, sunflower seeds, potatoes and spinach.
In 2003, scientists announced the creation of benfotiamine, a synthetic form of vitamin B1 that reportedly prevents the kind of nerve damage typically experienced by diabetics, according to WebMD. Unlike natural vitamin B1, which is water-soluble, benfotiamine is fat-soluble, allowing it to stay in the body longer. Benfotiamine was shown in lab testing to stop blood vessel damage caused by high blood sugar that often leads to blindness, kidney failure and heart attacks in people with diabetes.