For those suffering from an underactive thyroid, fatigue can be constant and debilitating. However, a malfunctioning thyroid may not be the only cause of fatigue. In general, thyroid and autoimmune conditions are the culmination of a number of issues, not a solitary imbalance or condition. For this reason, it is important to dig deep into one’s symptoms and look at all possible causes.
In many cases, fatigue accompanies underactive thyroid without a great deal of obvious solutions. For example, it has been suggested that those with autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, could have enzyme dysfunctions or imbalances that inhibit proper energy production. This can result in fatigue. When accompanied by stress and poor diet, fatigue can increase and ultimately become debilitating. In this situation resolving fatigue can feel hopeless. That said, more studies have appeared that recognize the B-complex vitamin thiamine as an important player in resolving chronic fatigue when working in tandem with other methods.
The body’s ability to process thiamine is of great importance to one’s energy levels. If one is unable to appropriately convert thiamine, a number of symptoms can occur, most notable of these being fatigue. Malabsorption, common in Hashimoto’s disease, appears to be the most prevalent and feasible cause of reduced energy levels. This is because the body is unable to properly absorb thiamine, causing an imbalance.
Other symptoms associated with thiamine deficiency include,
- Abdominal discomfort
- Trouble digesting carbohydrates
So What is Thiamine?
Thiamine is one of many B-complex vitamins. This helpful group of body boosters are critical in keeping your liver, skin, hair, and eyes healthy and functioning. Additionally, B-complex vitamins are sometimes referred to as “anti-stress” vitamins due to their ability to bolster our immune system thus improving the body’s response to stress.
Thiamine deficiency can be a contributing factor to chronic fatigue which is commonly experienced by those with underactive thyroid, in part due to malabsorption. However, there are other benefits that come along with balanced thiamine levels. In particular, thiamine (or vitamin B1) is charged with converting carbohydrates into usable energy, with specific focus on sustaining the brain and nervous system. Thiamine is required to form adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the form of energy used by every cell in the body.
B1 can be found in both plants and animals and is required for proper metabolism. Additionally, thiamine assists in digestion of proteins and fats by regulating hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Those who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s commonly have low stomach acid, or have difficulty releasing sufficient amounts.
If one is thiamine deficient, it can be challenging to break down and utilize carbohydrates effectively. Furthermore, if carbohydrates are not properly digested it can lead to a buildup of pyruvic acid in the bloodstream. This backlog of acid can cause reduced mental awareness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage. Through reinforcing this system with supplemental B1, individuals may improve their digestive system’s effectiveness.
How Does Thiamine Reduce Fatigue?
Some have theorized that thiamine deficiency plays a prominent role in fatigue symptoms, specifically for those who have thyroid conditions. In a small study conducted by Dr. Antonio Costantiti and nurse Maria Immacolata Pala, they posited that the fatigue associated with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is closely related to thiamine levels.
This study was conducted with a small sample size of three women, all of which have Hashimoto’s disease and experienced chronic fatigue even while they were on thyroid medications. The group was split into two groups of thiamine administration. Two of the women were given a 600mg per day dosage of thiamine to be taken orally. The other remaining woman was administered 100mg of thiamine every four days via intravenous injection.
Reports from the participants showed that they all experienced partial or complete remission of their fatigue symptoms. The speed in which relief occurred differed between the two modes of dosage. Injection appears to be the most expedient method, as the patient felt results within 6 hours of her first dose. Those who took the oral dosage experienced relief after 3-5 days.
Although this was a small study and requires a more substantial test to be considered reliable, this is a promising avenue for those suffering from chronic fatigue. Interestingly, this method of treatment is considered to be highly safe and could allow for those with autoimmune conditions to relieve their fatigue symptoms when diet and other medications are not enough.
How Do We Get Thiamine?
Like all B vitamins, the body does not store thiamine. This means that we are reliant on our diet and other supplements to provide our bodies with this resource that is critical to a number of systems.
Most experts agree that the majority of the population gets sufficient levels of thiamine through their diet. In part this is because it is so prevalent among many commonly eaten foods such as:
- Enriched, fortified, and whole grain products such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, and flour
- Beef liver, pork, poultry
- Wheat germ
- Blackstrap molasses
- Dried milk
- Legumes and Peas
- Nuts and Seeds
Nevertheless, if you have dietary restrictions it can be challenging to get the appropriate amount of thiamine in your diet. For example, those who are on paleo or autoimmune diets are restricted from nearly everything listed above. Because of this it is relatively common for those with autoimmune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s, to have decreased thiamine levels.
However, there is no need to worry because thiamine is available in a number of other forms that are easily acquirable. Vitamin B1 can be found in chewable multivitamins, liquid drops, B-complex vitamins, tablets, soft gels, and lozenges. In addition, be on the lookout for thiamine hydrochloride or thiamine mononitrates, as Vitamin B1 may also be labeled under these designations.
In almost all cases thiamine is considered safe. Because it has not shown toxicity in higher levels, The National Academy of Sciences has not set an upper tolerable limit for thiamine. This may be in part because thiamine is water soluble, meaning that any excess B1 within your system is simply excreted through urine. Nonetheless, it is important to speak with your physician before beginning any new supplemental regiment. Those with cancer should not take thiamine unless specifically directed by a physician because of the vitamin’s role in cell replication and proliferation.
If you’ve hit a wall in your struggle against fatigue, especially if you have a thyroid or autoimmune condition, it may be worthwhile investigating thiamine supplementation. Its usefulness as a neural stimulator as well as its role in converting food to energy could give your mind and body the boost it needs to fight off fatigue. Because thiamine recognized as such a safe substance with notably low levels of toxicity there is little risk in utilizing it as a supplement.