Have you heard about Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and its use in hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s?
If so, you’ve probably heard about how it can help improve energy and prevent fatigue.
Don’t get me wrong…
That’s a great benefit.
Who doesn’t want more energy?
But the truth is that increased energy is only one of the many benefits that thiamine has to offer.
It seems to be the only one that anyone talks about, which is a shame.
When it comes to your thyroid health, there are some big ones that you might be missing.
Today, I’m going to share with you three (or maybe four) other hidden thyroid benefits of thiamine that can help boost your thyroid function.
Before I do, it’s important to understand the serious consequences of thiamine deficiency.
Thiamine Deficiency in Disease and Testing
Until more recently, it was commonly believed that thiamine deficiency was rare and only found prevalently among alcoholics.
More recent research, however, has helped shed some much needed light on the involvement of thiamine deficiency among other deadly diseases.
Studies have now shown that as many as 55% of cancer patients test positive for thiamine deficiency.
Other studies have shown that thiamine deficiency is found in more than 75% of diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2).
Yet, thiamine blood tests are not necessarily accurate either.
In studies on using thiamine to treat Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), significant benefits were seen even though the test subjects tested negative for thiamine deficiency.
So, much like thyroid hormone, it’s not necessarily how much thiamine you have in your blood that’s most important.
It’s whether or not your cells can use that thiamine.
(NOTE: If you can’t get thyroid hormone to your cells, it won’t matter how much thyroid hormone you use. You’ll still be hypothyroid as covered in this article on “How We Overcome Hypothyroidism When All Else Fails”)
Because of this, high-doses of thiamine are often used to achieve a therapeutic effect.
Before we jump into the 3 hidden thyroid benefits of thiamine, it’s worth noting the healing effects of thiamine on your metabolism.
Thiamine and Thyroid Fatigue
We focus a lot on restoring healthy oxidative (carbohydrate) metabolism. It’s essential for proper thyroid function and energy production.
Without adequate thiamine, you can’t convert carbohydrates into energy and your metabolism fails.
When carbohydrate metabolism fails…
- Energy production fails…
- You produce lactic acid instead of carbon dioxide which starves your cells of oxygen and…
- Kicks off a domino effect of thyroid-suppressive processes.
The better you support your carbohydrate metabolism, the better you protect yourself from all three issues.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) plays an essential role in all of this.
Yet, here’s how thiamine helps more than just your metabolism…
3 Hidden Thyroid Benefits of Thiamine
1. Thiamine Is Essential to Overcoming Estrogen Dominance
Hypothyroidism and estrogen dominance go hand-in-hand.
(NOTE: Want to learn how to overcome estrogen dominance? Take a look at this 3-Step Plan to Lower Estrogen by More Than 55% in 10 Weeks.)
Without adequate thiamine, your liver simply can’t inactivate and detoxify estrogen.
When your liver can’t detoxify estrogen, it directly suppresses your thyroid gland and metabolism.
In one study, induced thiamine deficiency was shown to severely inhibit the liver’s ability to inactivate estrogen.
In this study, thiamine wasn’t the only B-Vitamin involved that had this effect.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) was also necessary for inactivating estrogen as well.
So, while Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is important, so is Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
It’s important to note that certain other B-Vitamins are essential for proper thyroid function too.
2. Thiamine Is Essential for Blood Sugar Regulation
Much like estrogen dominance, hypothyroidism and blood sugar instability go hand-in-hand.
This is in part because with hypothyroidism comes an increased risk of insulin resistance (diabetes).
(NOTE: Want to learn the truth about how insulin resistance (diabetes) develops in hypothyroidism?
Take a look at this article on “Hypothyroidism and Diabetes: How to Reverse It and Why Sugar Is NOT the Problem”.)
When you can’t metabolize carbohydrates, you also can’t use thyroid hormone (T3) efficiently.
In cases of diabetes and elevated blood sugar, thiamine has been shown to help improve your ability to use carbohydrates (glucose) and regulate blood sugar.
High-dose thiamine supplementation improves glucose tolerance in hyperglycemic individuals: a randomized, double-blind cross-over trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23715873 “CONCLUSION/INTERPRETATION: Supplementation with high-dose thiamine may prevent deterioration in fasting glucose and insulin, and improve glucose tolerance in patients with hyperglycemia. High-dose thiamine supplementation may prevent or slow the progression of hyperglycemia toward diabetes mellitus in individuals with impaired glucose regulation.”
By doing this, it also helps your body to be able to use thyroid hormone (T3) more efficiently.
3. Thiamine Helps Reduce Ammonia for Improved Brain Function
When your body breaks down muscle protein for energy, ammonia is released in the process.
Since protein breakdown is accelerated in hypothyroidism, this can result in elevated ammonia levels.
This is one of the causes of brain fog that is so commonly found in hypothyroidism.
Thiamine helps by preventing the breakdown of protein in your body to limit the amount of ammonia released.
As a result, many experience improvement in brain fog, mental clarity, and memory recall.
4. Thiamine Helps Make Exercise Safer
So, I’ve decided to throw in a fourth benefit of thiamine for improved thyroid function.
It’s actually related to many of the benefits I’ve already covered.
Thiamine helps to protect your thyroid from over-exercising.
Many hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s sufferers over-exercise in an attempt to increase weight loss without realizing they are only worsening their thyroid condition.
Thiamine helps to decrease the production of lactic acid and ammonia during exercise, while helping to maintain protective carbon dioxide.
In turn, this helps to prevent exercise fatigue and slows the thyroid-suppressive effects of over-exercising.
Keep in mind that “over-exercise” is a relative term.
In hypothyroidism, it doesn’t take much to over-exercise.
I have some clients who can’t walk more than a quarter to a half mile before it promotes a thyroid-suppressive stress response.
(NOTE: Want to learn more about how to protect your thyroid from the dangers of exercise? Take a look at this article on “How to Stop Exercise from Ruining Your Thyroid“.)
Important Note About Using Thiamine
When using thiamine properly, there are some important notes that should be understood.
Since thiamine increases carbohydrate metabolism, there can be an increased need for carbohydrates when using it.
Anytime you stimulate metabolism, getting adequate carbohydrate to fuel your metabolism is essential.
So, there you have it. We’ve covered a lot of benefits of thiamine including:
- Improved metabolism
- Increased energy
- Better mental clarity
- Protection from estrogen
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Protection from over-exercising
Don’t forget that some of these benefits do require other essential B-Vitamins.
For example, for estrogen protection we also need Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
Some of these benefits can also be amplified with other essential B-Vitamins.
For example, to achieve even greater blood sugar regulation, we can also combine Vitamin B1 (thiamine) with Vitamin B7 (biotin).
Using a properly balanced B-Vitamin Complex formulated for optimal thyroid function is often the best approach to take and the one I use with my clients.