What causes thiamine deficiency?

To function correctly, your body requires the vitamin thiamine. Without enough thiamine, a variety of symptoms can occur, ultimately resulting in death if the deficiency is severe or untreated.

Thiamine deficiency is caused by too little thiamine. This can occur in two ways: either too little thiamine is consumed or too much thiamine is lost. Most diets in the developed world are supplemented with thiamine, making a dietary deficiency of this vitamin very rare. In individuals with incredibly poor or unbalanced diets, such as alcoholics or people in the developing world, it is possible to consume a diet that is deficient in thiamine. In other cases, a genetic condition or kidney condition can result in too much thiamine being lost.

What are the risk factors for thiamine deficiency?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing thiamine deficiency. Most people with risk factors will not get thiamine deficiency because it is very rare, especially in the developed world. Risk factors for thiamine deficiency include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Genetic beriberi
  • Kidney disease
  • Living in an impoverished or underdeveloped nation
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor diet
  • Starvation

Reducing your risk of thiamine deficiency

Thiamine deficiency is rare in the developed world because many foods have supplemental thiamine added. Though the disease is uncommon, you can reduce your risk of thiamine deficiency by eating a healthy and varied diet.

INTRODUCTION

What is thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine deficiency (beriberi) results when your body does not have enough of the vitamin thiamine. Your body requires thiamine to help it break down different types of sugar. Without enough thiamine, you may experience a variety of symptoms that can be serious. Because many foods are supplemented with thiamine, thiamine deficiency is rare in the United States. However, thiamine deficiency... Read more about thiamine deficiencyintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine deficiency is associated with a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of thiamine deficiency. In one type of deficiency, known as wet beriberi, symptoms are similar to those of congestive heart failure. They include difficulty breathing with exercise or exertion or when lying down, and swelling in the legs. In another type of thiamine deficiency, dry beriberi, symptoms include weakness or paralysis of muscles or limbs, changes in thinking, difficulty sensing vibration, and other nervous system symptoms.... Read more about thiamine deficiencysymptoms

TREATMENTS

How is thiamine deficiency treated?

The only treatment for thiamine deficiency is thiamine supplementation and changes to any underlying dietary habits that may have caused the deficiency. Thiamine supplementation can be given orally or by injection, depending on the type and cause of thiamine deficiency you have.... Read more about thiamine deficiencytreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Metabolic System