It's safe to say we're heading into the holiday season, if you haven't already booked your summer get away then you're probably thinking about it. As we are sure you would agree, one of the down sides of a hot destination whether it be tropical, Mediterranean or anything else, is insect bites.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is backed by numerous studies to help prevent insect bites
Some people seem to be more more prone to insect bites than others, we do not fully understand why, but numerous studies indicate that taking vitamin B1 is a proven alternative to sprays and wipes to make you less prone to insect bites.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is a water-soluble vitamin (must be consumed with some water), it plays a key role in the breakdown of carbohydrates from food to make energy. It supports healthy functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves and also acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from the degenerative effects of ageing, alcohol consumption and smoking. Thiamine is absorbed from the upper and lower parts of the small intestine, if you ingest more vitamin B1 than your body needs, the excess is excreted in your urine and through your skin via perspiration.
Large consumption of Thiamine is very important
The fact that vitamin B1 is eliminated by the skin is key - it has been shown that when taken in large doses it may produce a skin odour that is not detectable by humans but is disagreeable to flying insects, in other words it gives it the potential to deter mosquitoes and other biting insects from using you as their next meal. It seems to be especially suitable for those with hypersensitive allergic individuals, and usually takes about two weeks to fully saturate the skin. So if you dislike commercial mosquito repellents, thiamine may be worth a try.
The necessary amount of thiamine would be very hard to obtain via a normal food diet
Thiamine can be obtained via your diet but as it cannot be stored by the body because it is water soluble, it must be consumed every day. The richest source of thiamine in a food source per gram is yeast extract (marmite) but you would need to consume over 200g of this which would have dangerous levels of salt and is highly inadvisable. Another high food source is sesame seeds but for this you would need to consume over 4kg to just get 50mg of thiamine! The conclusion is that a supplement form of thiamine is the most viable option to get the daily amount required recommended for helping to prevent insect bites.
To benefit from thiamine's mosquito repelling action, higher doses must be consumed to ensure that there will be excessive amounts to eliminate through the skin. It is recommended to take Vitamin B1 at a dosage of 50 to 100 mg per day. This should to be done two weeks before your holiday and also during your holiday and at the same daily dosage, the result should mean you will not be one of those people who has "sweet blood" and who seems to attract all the mosquitoes.
The NHS state that taking 100mg or less per day of Vitamin B1 is unlikely to cause any harm.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.