Vitamin B1 - Thiamine in Kids
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is an important vitamin for kids. Thiamine is involved in releasing energy from carbohydrates and in the development of acetylcholine (a nerve conduction chemical). Deficiency of thiamine causes a variety of symptoms such as: fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, and adominal discomfort. Severe deficiency may cause paresthesias (i.e., tingling of the fingers and toes), weakness, muscle cramping, and even heart failure. Two thiamine deficiency diseases are described: wet beriberi and dry beriberi. Beriberi is a term derived from the word for weakness in Sinhalese (a language spoken in Sri Lanka, an island republic in the Indian Ocean). Wet beriberi causes heart failure (and "wet lungs"). Dry beriberi mostly affects the nervous system. Thiamine deficiency in rare in American children. It is occasionally seen in breastfed infants whose mother's have thiamine deficiency. Excess thiamine in the diet is excreted in the urine and not known to cause any health problems.
What is vitamin B1 and where is it found?
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is an essential vitamin in the human diet. Vitamin B1 serves many functions in the body but is critical for normal heart and nerver function.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is found in a variety of food types including:
- Fortified foods
Who gets vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency?
- Thiamine deficiency is rare in industrialized countries.
- Breastfed infants (if mother is thiamine deficient)
- After gastrointestinal surgery involving removal of part of the stomach or gastric bypass surgery
- Some malabsorption diseases (i.e., gastrointestional or liver disease)
What are the symptoms of thiamine deficiency?
- Poor concentration
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
Tingling of the fingers or toes
Tenderness and cramping of muscles
Hoarseness of speech
Poor weight gain or weight loss
Loss of coordination
Increased pressure around the brain
How is vitamin B1 deficiency diagnosed?
The symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency are non-specific and typically not helpful for making the diagnosis.
Blood and urine test may be helpful.
A trial of vitamin B1 supplementation with resolution of symptoms is likely the best method.
Should my child take vitamin B1 supplements?
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency is rare in the United States. Children who eat a regular diet with good variety are unlikely to develop a deficiency (even children who are "picky" eaters). Vitamin B1 supplements are not routinely recommended for children but pose little risk.
Photo credit - U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2007.
Last Updated (Thursday, 06 October 2011 12:07)