The brain uses vitaminB1 to help convert glucose, or blood sugar, into fuel, and without it the brain rapidly runs out of energy. This can lead to fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide.
Since it also plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Several studies have shown that thiamin is crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system and can have a powerful effect on mood and alertness. Studies have shown that people with a high thiamin intake are less likely to suffer from low self- esteem and depression. It can also help to alleviate sleeping problems.
Researchers from the department of psychology at the University of Wales in Swansea have conducted studies to understand the effect of Vitamin B1 on mood.
One hundred twenty healthy female college students were given either 50 mg thiamine, considered a high dose, or a placebo. Despite their ostensibly normal nutritional status, after two months the students who took extra thiamine more than doubled their scores on the clear-headedness and mood subclasses of the bipolar Profile of Mood States (POMS) psychological test. Students treated with placebo showed no change. Those taking thiamine also increased their quickness on a reaction-time test. Again, the placebo group was unchanged. Finally, improvement also occurred on POMS subscales that measured if a participant felt confident, composed or elated.
Thus, therapeutic doses of thiamin may help to boost mood, even when the vitamin is not deficient in the body. Vitamin B1 has been called the 'moral vitamin' because it helps one feel positive and happy, and it is now widely used in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
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