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Vitamin B1: indispensible for energy management and the nervous system

thu 06 apr 2017

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, was first discovered in rice bran in 1897. That is why it is still referred to today as the anti-beriberi vitamin. Beriberi or scurvy, a cardiovascular or neurological condition, used to be found mainly in Asian countries where nutrition largely consisted of milled rice. The vitamin's chemical structure was discovered only in 1936 (Figure 1), followed by the first production of vitamin B1. Industrial production takes place by way of fermentation processes.

Vitamin B1 is converted in the body into thiamine pyrophosphate, a co-enzyme. It is involved in three metabolism processes: glycolysis (glucose decomposition) in liver and muscles, the Krebs cycle (conversion of pyruvic acid into lactic acid) and the pentose phosphate pathway (formation of NADPH). Vitamin B1 therefore indirectly also has an important liver supporting role.

Thiamine pyrophosphate is also involved in lipid and acetylcholine synthesis in nerve tissue. This is why a deficiency often manifests itself in neurological conditions. Neurological issues have been observed in pigs, whereas in young chicks, calves and lambs a B1 deficiency can lead to weakened muscles and muscle cramps, which can result in so-called stargazers.

Figure 1: Structural formula for Vitamin B1 or thiamine

Figuur 1 Structuurformule




Vitamin B1 is often a standard addition to premixes for monogastric animals (pigs, poultry, horses, pet food, milk substitutes). It is also formed through fermentation in the rumen (in ruminants) and/or the large intestine. Twilmij advises adding vitamin B1 for young ruminants whose rumen is not yet sufficiently developed.

Vitamin B1 is stable at a low pH (< 5). At higher pH values it is somewhat sensitive to higher temperatures in combination with moisture. It is also a known fact that vitamin B1 is sensitive to oxidation in the presence of certain substances, such as sodium bisulphite and tannins. This is why Twilmij offers a fat-coated formula for specific applications.

Twilmij carries two formulas (thiamine salts), each containing a minimum of 98% vitamin B1: thiamine mononitrate and thiamine hydrochloride. The latter consists of small crystals and is highly soluble. Thiamine HCI is therefore suitable for water-dispersible premixes, such as milk substitutes. Thiamine mononitrate consists of larger granular sodium crystals. Although it is less soluble, this structure provides extra stability.

Viamin B1 is registered under EU legislation under registration number 3a821. In this way the vitamin can be found as a nutrient on our specifications and labels.

Please contact one of our animal nutritionists for more information on the application of vitamin B1 or our advisory standards.