Thiamine (thiamin or vitamin B1), as thiamine pyrophosphate (physiologically active form), plays an important role in the metabolism of both carbohydrate and the branched-chain amino acids. It’s a water-soluble vitamin of B-complex. It also plays an important role as a coenzyme in energy metabolism and in the maintenance of nerve cell function .
Vitamin B1 and its role in exericise
It has been noted in the literature that active individuals with poor nutritional status for a B-vitamin may have decreased ability to perform exercise at high intensities. Administration of thiamine (100 mg/day for 3 days) has proven to reduce serum lactate and improve resistance to fatigue.[2, 4-6] It has also been shown that thiamine supplementation has ergogenic properties. On the other hand, two studies suggest that thiamine supplementation does not influence physical activity or the levels of serum lactate.[8,9]
In a more recent study Bautista-Hernandez et al.  suspected that based on the available literature thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) might affect the concentration of serum lactate by improving oxidation of carbohydrates during aerobic metabolism. They recruited 27 male athletes with the objective to determine the effect of TTP on the serum lactate concentration, VO2max and heart rate. Athletes that received TPP had significantly lower heart rate and lactate serum levels, and VO2max was significantly higher than that of the placebo group after exercise.
Viamin B1 (Thiamine) deficiency
While supplementing with thiamine may be beneficial, its deficiency can lead to some serious troubles. Bodybuilders who are taking diuretics are in serious danger of thiamine deficiency. Diuretics prevent reabsorption of thiamine by the kidneys and increase its excretion in the urine. Thiamine deficiency seems to adversely affect all of the organ systems and can lead to metabolic coma and death .
- Manore, Melinda M. “Effect of physical activity on thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6 requirements.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 72.2 (2000): 598s-606s.
Suzuki, Masashige, and Yoshinori Itokawa. “Effects of thiamine supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue.” Metabolic brain disease 11.1 (1996): 95-106.
Woolf, Kathleen, and Melinda M. Manore. “B-vitamins and exercise: does exercise alter requirements?.” International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 16.5 (2006): 453.
Strumilo, Slawomir, Jan Czerniecki, and Pawel Dobrzyn. “Regulatory effect of thiamin pyrophosphate on pig heart pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 256.2 (1999): 341-345.
Larrieu, A. J., et al. “Beneficial effects of cocarboxylase in the treatment of experimental myocardial infarction in dogs.” The American surgeon 53.12 (1987): 721.
Chobitko, V. G., and N. B. Zakharova. “Prediction of the effects of energy-stabilizing drugs in diabetes mellitus.” Klinicheskaia laboratornaia diagnostika 3 (1993): 15.
McNeill, A. W., and T. J. Mooney. “Relationship among carbohydrate loading, elevated thiamine intake cardiovascular endurance of conditioned mice.” The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness 23.3 (1983): 257.
Webster, Michael J., et al. “The effect of a thiamin derivative on exercise performance.” European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 75.6 (1997): 520-524.
Webster, Michael J. “Physiological and performance responses to supplementation with thiamin and pantothenic acid derivatives.” European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology 77.6 (1998): 486-491.
Bautista-Hernandez, V. M., et al. “Effect of Thiamine Pyrophosphate on Levels of Serum Lactate, Maximum Oxygen Consumption and Heart Rate in Athletes Performing Aerobic Activity.” The Journal of international medical research 36.6 (2008): 1220-1226.s
- “Thiamin”, Jane Higdon, Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute