Antioxidants

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in many foods, Photograph of a carton of cherry tomatoesincluding fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements. Examples of antioxidants include

  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of antioxidants. There is good evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthy and lowers risks of certain diseases. But it isn’t clear whether this is because of the antioxidants, something else in the foods, or other factors.

High-dose supplements of antioxidants may be linked to health risks in some cases. For example, high doses of beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. High doses of vitamin E may increase risks of prostate cancer and one type of stroke. Antioxidant supplements may also interact with some medicines. To minimize risk, tell you of your health care providers about any antioxidants you use.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins arePhotograph of pills

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B12
  • Folic acid

These vitamins help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. They also help form red blood cells. You can get B vitamins from proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also have B vitamins. Many cereals and some breads have added B vitamins.

Not getting enough of certain B vitamins can cause diseases. A lack of B12 or B6 can cause anemia.

Calcium

You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium has many important jobs. The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium Photograph of calcium-rich foodsin the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. Your body needs calcium to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system.

It is important to get plenty of calcium in the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Leafy, green vegetables
  • Fish with soft bones that you eat, such as canned sardines and salmon
  • Calcium-enriched foods such as breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy and rice drinks, and tofu. Check the product labels.

The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults. Older women need plenty of calcium to preventosteoporosis. People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement.

Carbohydrates

Photograph of two loaves of breadCarbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.

Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.

For a healthy diet, limit the amount of added sugar that you eat and choose whole grains over refined grains.

Dietary Proteins

Photograph of a variety of soy productsProtein is in every living cell in the body. Our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to build and maintain bones, muscles and skin. We get proteins in our diet from meat, dairy products, nuts and certain grains and beans. Proteins from meat and other animal products are complete proteins. This means they supply all of the amino acids the body can’t make on its own. Plant proteins are incomplete. You must combine different types of plant proteins to get all of the amino acids your body needs.

It is important to get enough dietary protein. You need to eat protein every day, because your body doesn’t store it the way it stores fats or carbohydrates. The average person needs 50 to 65 grams of protein each day. This is the amount in four ounces of meat plus a cup of cottage cheese.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Everyone needs folic acid. For women who may get pregnant, it is really important. Getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy can prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain or spine.Photograph of folate-rich foods

Foods with folic acid in them include

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dried beans, peas, and nuts
  • Enriched breads, cereals and other grain products

If you don’t get enough folic acid from the foods you eat, you can also take it as a dietary supplement.

Iron

Iron is a mineral that our bodies need for many functions. For example, iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein which carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies. It helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron is also part of many other proteins and enzymes.

Your body needs the right amount of iron. If you have too little iron, you may develop iron deficiencyanemia. Causes of low iron levels include blood loss, poor diet, or an inability to absorb enough iron from foods. People at higher risk of having too little iron are young children and women who are pregnant or have periods.

Photograph of pills spilling out of a bottle

Too much iron can damage your body. Taking too many iron supplements can cause iron poisoning. Some people have an inherited disease called hemochromatosis. It causes too much iron to build up in the body.

Minerals

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat.Photograph of various vegetables

There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Your body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.

The best way to get the minerals your body needs is by eating a wide variety of foods. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement.

Nutrition

Food provides the energy and nutrients you need to be healthy. Nutrients include proteins,carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Healthy eating is not hard. The key is to

  • Eat a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products
  • Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy products
  • Drink lots of water
  • Limit salt, sugar, alcohol, saturated fat, and trans fat in your diet

Saturated fats are usually fats that come from animals. Look for trans fat on the labels of processed foods, margarines, and shortenings.

An image of a divided plate

Sodium

Also called: Salt

Table salt is made up of the elements sodium and chlorine – the technical name for salt is sodium chloride. Your body needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body. Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can’t get rid it, sodium builds up in your blood. This can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other health problems.

Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in salt and sodium. Doctors recommend you eat less than 2.4 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.

Thiamine

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.

B1 rich foods, thiamine

Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is a B complex vitamin. It is found in many foods and is vitally important to keeping a body operating properly.

“Thiamine is involved in many body functions including the nervous system, heart and muscles,” said Dr. Sherry Ross, gynecologist and Women’sHealth Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “It is also important in the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells, enzymatic processes and carbohydrate metabolism.”

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), thiamine was named B1 because it was the first B complex vitamin to be discovered. According to the Mayo Clinic, it was also one of the first vitamins of any kind ever be classified.

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, motion sickness, and improving athletic performance. 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 (VITAMIN B1) are as follows:

Effective for…

  • Metabolic disorders. Taking thiamine by mouth helps correct metabolic disorders associated with genetic diseases, 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 (thiamine deficiency) and is often seen in alcoholics. Between 30% and 80% of alcoholics are believed to have thiamine deficiency. 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 a reduced risk of developing cataracts.
  • Kidney disease in people with diabetes. Early research shows that taking high-dose thiamine (100 mg three times daily) for 3 months 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). Early research suggests that taking thiamine for 90 days stops pain associated with menstruation in girls 12-21 years-old.

Possibly ineffective for…

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

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Athletic performance. Some research suggests that taking thiamine together with pantethine and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) does not improve muscle strength or endurance in athletes.
  • Preventing cervical cancer. Some research suggests that increasing intake of thiamine from dietary and supplement sources, along with other folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, might decrease the risk of precancerous spots on the cervix.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Brain conditions.
  • AIDS.
  • Heart disease.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Stress.
  • Aging.
  • Canker sores.
  • 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.

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 SAFE when given appropriately intravenously (by IV) 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.

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
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
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.
Seafood
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:

BY MOUTH:

  • For adults with somewhat low levels of thiamine in their body (mild thiamine deficiency): 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 reducing the risk of getting cataracts: a daily dietary intake of approximately 10 mg of thiamine.

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.

BY INJECTION:

  • Healthcare providers give thiamine shots for treating and preventing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome).

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.

Methodology

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

Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet focuses on plants for food. These include fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts. There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups:

  • The vegan diet, which excludes all meat and animal products
  • The lacto vegetarian diet, which includes plant foods plus dairy products
  • The lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes both dairy products and eggs

People who follow vegetarian diets can get all the nutrients they need. However, they must be careful to eat a wide variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. Nutrients vegetarians may need to focus on include protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.

Photograph of various fruits and vegetables

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