Vitamin Bj, or thiamine, is considered to be the anti-beriberi vitamin. Beri is a Hindustani word referring to a sheep’s fetlock; in Sinhalese, beri means weakness. The weakness or loss of energy experienced by those whose main diet is white rice leads to a partial paralysis of the limbs, making the patients drag their feet similar to the way sheep do. For this reason the disease, which is caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin Bb came to be known as beriberi, a reduplication of the word beri.
The anti-beriberi vitamin is contained in the aleurone layer of cereals; a good quantity is also present in yeast. The substance consists of various chemical compounds which, although not related to one another, have the same quality of being water-soluble.