Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Thiamin
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Thiamine deficiency can lead to many different health complications. Your body is incapable of storing large quantities of thiamine, so it is vital to take in thiamine through your diet (The Natural Standard Research Collaboration, 2013).
People can be predisposed to thiamine deficiencies. Some predisposing factors include, eating disorders, malnutrition, gastrointestinal surgical procedures and most commonly alcoholism (Osiezagha et al., 2013). Alcoholism is the most common cause for thiamine deficiency in the United States due to the poor diet associated with that particular lifestyle (Evert A, 2013; Osiezagha et al., 2013). Alcohol is also known to compromise thiamine absorption from the gastrointestinal tract which also can impair thiamine storage (Osiezagha et al., 2013).
Some common symptoms of thiamine deficiency include headache, nausea, fatigue, irritability, depression, weakness, psychosis, nerve damage, and abdominal discomfort (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013). There are also many health problems associated with this deficiency, as mentioned before. Some common diseases associated with thiamine deficiency are Wernicke’s disease, Korsakoff syndrome, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, beriberi, cancer, severe obesity, delirium, and systemic diseases (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013; Osiezagha et al., 2013).
Severe thiamine deficiency can lead to brain damage. Wernicke’s disease causes damage to nerves in the central nervous system as well as the peripheral nervous system (Ehrlich S, 2013; Evert A, 2013) This disease is often caused through malnutrition and alcoholism which then lead to thiamine deficiency (Ehrlich S, 2013). The Korsakoff syndrome can cause memory problems and nerve damage (Ehrlich, 2013). Beriberi is also a common disease with those with severe thiamine deficiency (Ehrlich S, 2013).
There are not many treatments to thiamine deficiency except to get medical attention immediately. Thiamine should be immediately supplied to the body through either intravenous or intramuscular ways to ensure an abundant amount of thiamine is being absorbed (Osiezagha et al., 2013). Treating thiamine deficiency with thiamine can help cure or lighten the severity of the disease. Although, this is not true for all diseases associated with thiamine deficiency. Some diseases have no improvement with thiamine being added to the body (World Health Organization, 1999). Another form of treatment is through thiamine or vitamin B-complex supplements (WHO, 1999). One downside to these supplements is that it is difficult to organize, expensive, and can be ineffective in the long term, as these are needed to be taken daily (WHO, 1999). The use of these tablets to treat thiamine deficiency should be only for outbreaks of thiamine deficiency diseases or to pregnant and lactating women (WHO, 1999).
There are also numerous ways to prevent your body from a thiamine deficiency disease. If your body is predisposed to thiamine deficiency it is possible to get preventative therapy (WHO, 1999). It is recommended that the therapy should continue for more than two weeks (WHO, 1999). Whether your body is predisposed or not, diversifying your diet can help to make sure you are eating more foods that have thiamine in them (WHO, 1999). Reducing the intake of anti-thiamine factors in your diet can also aid in preventing thiamine deficiency (WHO, 1999).
Ehrlich S. (2013). “Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)”. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b1-thiaminee
Evert A. (2013). “Thiamine”. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002401.htm
The Natural Standard Research Collaboration. (2013). “Thiamine (Vitamin B1)”. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/thiaminee/evidence/hrb-20060129
Osiezagha et al. (2013). “Thiamine deficiency and delirium”. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659035/
World Health Organization (WHO). (1999). “Thiamine deficiency and its prevention and control in major emergencies”. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/en/thiaminee_in_emergencies_eng.pdf