Benfotiamine is a dietary supplement derived from thiamine (also known as vitamin B1), a B vitamin found in a variety of foods including legumes, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, fortified cereals such as breads, cereals, pasta, rice. and flour, and some meat and fish. Because benfotiamine is fat soluble and appears to have higher bioavailability and better absorption by the body than thiamine, some people use it to increase thiamine levels and control certain health conditions.
What is benfotiamine used for?
Thiamine deficiency is considered rare in the United States. That said, people who eat mostly highly refined carbohydrates (like white rice) or non-fortified foods made with white flour, or who avoid whole grains, may be at higher risk for thiamine. deficit. People with prolonged diarrhea, Crohn's disease, and alcohol dependence may also be at risk. Intense exercise and conditions such as hyperthyroidism increase the body's need for thiamine, which can also lead to a deficiency.
Benfotiamine can help restore thiamine levels and help prevent the effects of a deficiency, such as nerve, heart, and brain diseases (including a serious condition known as Wernicke's encephalopathy).
Additionally, some believe that benfotiamine supplementation can help treat:
Advocates speculate that benfotiamine may protect the body from the damaging effects of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), the glycotoxins found in high-fat meats that cause inflammation and accelerate many of the degenerative diseases associated with the aging.
To date, relatively few studies have examined the potential health benefits of taking benfotiamine supplements. Here are some of the study's key findings:
In diabetes, high blood glucose levels can lead to vascular damage through several biochemical pathways, including the formation of AGEs. This can lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition characterized by nerve damage.
There is some research to support the idea that benfotiamine may have protective effects in this regard. An animal study found that three of these pathways are inhibited by benfotiamine supplementation, indicating that it may have a protective effect in humans during disease progression.
This effect was confirmed by another study published in Diabetes Care in 2006, in which people with type 2 diabetes consumed 1,050 milligrams (mg) of benfotiamine per day and received food for the elderly before and after a three-day period. Benfotiamine appears to protect against oxidative stress caused by these dietary AGEs.
A phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in more than 100 patients in 2008 showed that medium and high doses of benfotiamine (300 and 600 mg / day, respectively) resulted in a slight trend toward improvement in symptoms. of neuropathy, the higher the dose is more effective .
Despite these promising results, a 12-week study published in PLoS One in 2012 showed that benfotiamine did not significantly affect the markers that lead to vascular complications caused by hyperglycemia. Benfotiamine did not significantly affect peripheral nerve function or inflammation markers in participants with type 1 diabetes .
Needless to say, more research is needed.
Amyloid plaques and decreased glucose metabolism are key features of Alzheimer's patients. According to a 2010 animal study, thiamine -dependent processes, which are critical for glucose metabolism, were found to be altered in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, but thiamine supplementation was ineffective. Because the body can use benfotiamine more easily than thiamine, and after eight weeks of treatment, a mouse model was found to have a decrease in the number of amyloid plaques and an improvement in cognitive function.
According to a small 2016 clinical study published in the Neuroscience Bulletin , five participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease took benfotiamine (300 mg per day) for 18 months. At the end of the study, five participants showed improvements in cognitive function regardless of the accumulation of amyloid plaques.
These results indicate that benfotiamine may be useful in treating Alzheimer's disease, but more research is also needed for this use.
Possible side effects.
While little is known about the safety of taking benfotiamine for long periods, there is some concern that benfotiamine supplements may cause certain side effects, such as:
- Stomach ache
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Body odor
- Low blood pressure
According to a 2017 review , no side effects were reported in clinical trials of thiamine derivatives for the treatment of various diseases with doses ranging from 300 to 900 mg per day. One study found that several participants reported nausea and indigestion when they reached 7,000 and 7,500 mg / day; Although benfotiamine is converted to thiamine in the body, its effects on the body may not be the same .
Benfotiamine is known to contain sulfur and anyone with a sulfur sensitivity should avoid it.
Note that the safety of supplements for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with medical conditions or taking medications has not been established.
Dosage and preparation
According to one study, 320 mg of benfotiamine per day was more effective than 150 mg of benfotiamine per day for patients suffering from painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Although not many dangerous side effects have been reported, taking extremely high doses is not recommended as there is not enough research to date.
Since effective doses in the 300 to 600 mg range have been observed for diabetic neuropathy and cognitive enhancement in Alzheimer's patients, starting with a lower dose is a good approach.
If you are considering taking a supplement, speak with your doctor to determine what amount is right for you, if any.
What to look for
Benfotiamine supplements, widely available to buy online, can also be found at supplement stores.
When choosing one of the available brands, it is recommended that you check the additive label on the product packaging. This label will contain information about the fillers, binders or flavors added, as well as a detailed description of the amount of active ingredients per serving.
Look for a product that is approved by a third-party quality testing organization, such as ConsumerLab. This ensures that the product contains the listed ingredients without harmful impurities. However, the seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the safety or efficacy of a product.
Frequently asked questions
Doctors may recommend a dose of 150 to 300 mg of benfotiamine twice daily to reduce pain in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, more research is needed to determine if benfotiamine is really effective.
Benfotiamine supplements help increase levels of thiamine, also known as vitamin B1. Thiamine is the key to a healthy nervous system. Among other potential benefits, some research suggests that benfotiamine may help with diabetes-related nerve damage.