Thiamine deficiency and diabetes complications. Lowering blood sugar with drugs doesn't prevent complications.

By RosalieM Latest Reply 2015-02-21 07:59:14 -0600
Started 2015-02-08 08:14:55 -0600

Research summary below.
Abstract: "Despite the targeting of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, disease burden has not been completely eliminated. Thiamine is an essential cofactor in carbohydrate metabolism
and individuals with diabetes are thiamine deficient." The pathophysiology of recognized complications of thiamine deficiency is similar to that underlying atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome, namely oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction"

"Thiamine administration can prevent the formation of harmful by-products of glucose metabolism, reduce oxidative stress and improve endothelial function."

This is just some of the research that I read that tells me that diabetic complications are not prevented by drugs alone. My analysis of all the research I read follows. If I have made a mistake, I would be happy to be corrected.

1. Diabetics excrete thiamine B1 at a 25 % higher rate than non diabetics, so they are short.
2. Thiamine (B1) is crucial for protecting the nerves from oxidative damage.
3. Research evidence shows that high doses of fat soluble thiamine in the form of Benfotiamine
protects the nerves from the oxidative damage. Diabetes drugs lowers blood sugar but do not
protect the nerve cells from oxidative stress.
4. Keeping blood sugar down with diet also protects the nerves from oxidative stress.
5. Doctors are not up to date with this research but you can be. It is all on line in many different places.
6. Benfotiamine (not a brand name) is available at stores that sell vitamins. It can be bought over the counter. Germany has been prescribing benfotiamine to diabetics since the 1990's.
After 30 years of diabetes, the bottoms of my feet started to tingle. After taking the benfoitiamine for awhile, the tingling went away.

49 replies

Pegsy 2015-02-20 18:06:54 -0600 Report

I found Benfotiamine today and bought it. I was very pleased to see that it is less expensive than the R Lipoic Acid I had been buying for the same purpose. While the R Lipoic Acid has helped, I have high hopes that the Benfotiamine will do even better. What I found is 150mg. I have no idea how much to take daily. Any suggestions, Rosalie?

suecsdy 2015-02-20 21:18:33 -0600 Report

Did you find it online or in a store? I've looked a couple places, but no luck yet.

Pegsy 2015-02-21 07:59:14 -0600 Report

I found it at Sprouts. It was the first and only place I looked. I will try to find it in a higher potency so I have fewer pills to swallow. I'm sure I can order it online.

haoleboy 2015-02-20 19:32:39 -0600 Report

Clinical tests I have looked at used 300 mg daily (and theses tests had positive results)
Are you taking this to relieve neuropathy symptoms?


Pegsy 2015-02-20 20:28:46 -0600 Report

Thanks for the dosage suggestion. I guess I will take two a day.
I will finish the R Lipoic Acid first then I will start the Benfotiamine. About a year and a half ago I had numbness and tingling in my feet, covering about half of each foot. My feet also felt cold all the time. But if someone touched my foot, it was not cold to the touch. After being on Metformin and getting my glucose under better control and taking R Lipoic Acid all this time, there is now only mild tingling in the tips of my toes. That is the only symptom of neuropathy that I have at this time. I would like to make sure that it doesn't progress any further and possibly get rid of this tingling altogether. R Lipoic Acid has done a good job, I think but it is so expensive. We'll see what happens with the Benfotiamine.

Pegsy 2015-02-21 07:57:19 -0600 Report

I will. Although I imagine it is going to take a while. Nerves can and do heal but it is a very slow process.

Chopstix 2015-02-16 15:33:29 -0600 Report

Doctors never tell us about simple things we could be missing from our diet like thiamine or magnesium(helped me) or chromium. They just want to write out a prescription or cut on us. Then you have the ones that expect a pill to work overnight but that's another subject…

haoleboy 2015-02-16 16:47:21 -0600 Report

My doctor discussed a vitamin B deficiency as a possible cause of my neurotaphy and had blood tests done to rule that out … and at my last appointment we discussed a plan for getting me off metformin … she does not advocate the use of supplements but prefers that I first maintain a healthy diet to ensure I get my nutrient needs that way (if possible) …so not all doctors are prescription happy … just sayin'
(She is from Ukraine and received her education there so perhaps that has something to do with it)


JoleneAL 2015-02-11 09:50:53 -0600 Report

Rosalie, I wanted you to know I Googled and read about this to death yesterday. This morning I ordered some Benfotiamine 300mg from VitaCost. Even if I don't see or feel the benefits, I can't see NOT taking it. And none of my supplements have it! Thank you for the information.

RosalieM 2015-02-11 12:10:51 -0600 Report

Hi Jolene,
That is a smart move. You may not feel different, if you don't have nerve damage, it should prevent it from happening to you. If you do have some nerve damage already, It may take several months of a high dose to reverse it if it hasn't gotten too bad. The numbness in my feet was mild and
only occurred when I put my feet up or swam laps. I had no loss of feeling. But it went away. Keep us up to date. Thanks!

haoleboy 2015-02-10 16:13:20 -0600 Report

My question is this … as diabetics "excrete thiamine B1 at a 25 % higher rate than non-diabetics" if one consumes 2-3 times the RDA of B1 wouldn't they have a sufficient amount of the vitamin left in their system?


RosalieM 2015-02-10 18:05:58 -0600 Report

I don't know the answer to that question. Diabetics type 1 and 2 have 75%
less thiamine B1 in their bodies than non diabetics. I guess I don't want to take that chance. You don't know how short you are until the nerve damage happens then it may be too late.

haoleboy 2015-02-15 22:09:56 -0600 Report

Sadly … that ship has sailed for me. I was diagnosed last year with "severe motor and sensory peripheral neuropathy" in both legs.
Best bet for cause is Advanced Glycation End-products from diabetes, I was tested for a possible B-12 / folate deficiency (very common cause of neuropathy) but those levels were normal. The odds of my peripheral neuropathy being caused by beriberi (thiamine deficiency) are extremely rare.
Currently taking gabapentin to help with the pain at night and hoping to be able to scrape together enough money to start thiamine supplements (just in case).


haoleboy 2015-02-16 16:39:04 -0600 Report

… to finish my thought …
The real reason to take benfotiamine is to lessen (reverse?) the effects of neuropathy. It's effectiveness in preventing neuropathy is speculative at best … but there are numerous studies that have shown that it is effective in the treatment of neuropathy and, as Grandma Rose pointed out, it is prescribed in Germany for neuropathy.
To be clear … for treatment of neuropathy, the science shows that benfotiamine NOT a thiamine (B1) supplement is effective.


JoleneAL 2015-02-10 15:52:47 -0600 Report

Sounds like we need a good round amount of the B as a whole 1-whatever.

Will check my multi for this and ask my weight doctor how much is on my shots.

RosalieM 2015-02-10 16:03:55 -0600 Report

Regular B1 will not work as it is water soluble and diabetics cannot hold on to it. You want the Benfotiamine, it is fat soluble. Your Doctor may not have herd of it.

Pegsy 2015-02-09 16:37:16 -0600 Report

I would be interested in knowing what the best food sources are for Benfoitiamine.

haoleboy 2015-02-10 10:48:48 -0600 Report

dietary sources of B1 (thiamine):

Benfotiamine: a synthetic S-acyl derivative of thiamine. It has been licensed for use in Germany since 1993 under the trade name Milgamma. It is prescribed there for treating sciatica and other painful nerve conditions.

RosalieM 2015-02-10 13:18:07 -0600 Report

Thanks for that very useful information about Benfotianine.
We in this country are sometimes behind Europe when it comes to medical research. I suspect it has to do with our medical capitalism as opposed to Europe's socialized medicine. Please don't get me wrong, I am not putting down capitalism. It is just in the medical arena, there is no money to be lost in Europe when a cheap thing like Benfotiamine can prevent nerve damage they save tax money. I am not promoting socialized medicine either, just stating a fact. I look to Europe to see what they came up with that might help me, that we don't have in this country because either there is no money to be made of money to be lost.

RosalieM 2015-02-09 17:09:50 -0600 Report

There are no food sources for Benfotiamine. It is made from thiamine (B1)
Thiamine is found in food is water soluble. Diabetics excrete it 25 times faster than non diabetics. The Benfotiamine is made from thiamine but it is made to be fat soluble. Diabetics don't excrete the fat soluble form.

Pegsy 2015-02-09 18:38:12 -0600 Report

I just read that garlic and onions are good food sources of Benfotiamine.

RosalieM 2015-02-10 06:54:13 -0600 Report

Hi Peg,
I question that because Benfotiamine is fat soluble and onions don't have much fat. Also the word Benfotiamine is a made up word for the making of it in a lab. It does not occur naturally in a fat soluble form. It is made from natural thiamine which is water soluble. Diabetics cannot hold on to the water soluble form that is why a fat soluble form is needed.

RosalieM 2015-02-09 13:31:06 -0600 Report

Hi Marks,
There is much more research available than you mention. I don't know how to do links so I can't point you to it. Germany has been prescribing the Benfotiamine to prevent diabetes complication since the 1990's. Those are pretty good clinical studies. Diabetics both type 1 and type 2 have 75% less
Thiamine (B1) than non diabetics. Diabetics are not even tested for it. Thiamine
is the nerve vitamin. Diabetics have nerve problems. Benfotiamine (fat soluble
thiamine) will not hurt you, it can be bought over the counter. It made the tingling
in my feet just go away.

MarkS 2015-02-09 10:53:50 -0600 Report

Hi RosalieM, Its been a few weeks since I've been hanging around here and the only way I can comment is to see the article that you reference. However, from what I have read, the studies were done in vivo on cultured vascular cells with no controlled clinical studies in humans. So, its hard to make a direct correlation until its confirmed in human studies.

GabbyPA 2015-02-09 08:36:52 -0600 Report

Metformin robs us of B vitamins. I have asked my doctor for years to test my B levels to see if they need to be supplemented. He won't because I am not an elderly patient. My diabetic instructor told us that you cannot overdose on B-12 and recommended taking a sublingual tablet ever day. I used to take a B complex supplement, but it kind of fell by the way side. I think I need to look into it again.

Pegsy 2015-02-15 20:12:15 -0600 Report

I take a hefty multi vitamin in the morning that contains B vitamins. Then with dinner I take a B Complex supplement as well.

RosalieM 2015-02-09 13:23:20 -0600 Report

You are right, Metformin does rob you of B12 if you have taken it a long time. Taking B12 is a good solution for you. It won't hurt you. In my discussion above, I am talking about Thiamine. Thiamine vitamin B1 is water soluble. Diabetics excrete it 25 times faster than non diabetics.
It is only the fat soluble that diabetics can hold on to. It is made from thiamine.

haoleboy 2015-02-08 21:31:28 -0600 Report

I have been taking Alpha Lipoic Acid to help with my severe neuropathy … I have issues walking because of it … but as of late it seems not to be helping and the neuropathy is getting worse. Benfotiamine looks promising but just not affordable at the dosage levels I have seen recommended … bummer.
Pretty sure insurance does not cover it.

Pegsy 2015-02-09 16:36:34 -0600 Report

I read that R Lipoic Acid is actually more effecting than Alpha Lipoic Acid. I have been taking it for over a year and the tingling that used to affect most of my feet now only affects the very tips of my toes. I have no doubt that it is improving due to the R Lipoic Acid. I plan to look into the B1 though. The expense could be a deterrent but R Lipoic Acid isn't cheap either.

haoleboy 2015-02-09 18:20:35 -0600 Report

yes … I read that R-Lipoic Acid is more effective but Alpha Lipoic was affordable and it seemed to help for a few months.
I have had to stop all supplements as I can no longer afford them.

Pegsy 2015-02-09 18:34:38 -0600 Report

I have been reducing supplements for the same reason. But because the R Lipoic Acid has been so effective for me, I don't want to stop that one. I used to get a massage every other week because it helped so much in reducing my stress and that brought my glucose down but I just can't afford it anymore. I miss it but the expense is WAY too much. Now my insurance doesn't pay for my test strips anymore so I am going to cut back on how much I test. That is going to be a big challenge for me.

suecsdy 2015-02-08 17:37:11 -0600 Report

If it helps with the blood vessels, maybe it will help with kidney function too.

RosalieM 2015-02-08 17:49:30 -0600 Report

Maybe it could. It reversed the tingling in my feet when I put my feet up.

Pegsy 2015-02-15 20:18:22 -0600 Report

I used to have a lot of tingling and numbness in my feet. Now that I have much better glucose control this is much improved. I only have a little bit of tingling in the tips of my toes. I would love to get rid of it altogether if I could. I will look for this supplement and see how it goes.

suecsdy 2015-02-08 20:30:35 -0600 Report

From what I understand at this point, the decrease in function may be due to some kind if pressure on the blood vessels causing them to not operate as efficiently as normal. Have an education class scheduled on kidney function later this month. I am looking forward to it.

haoleboy 2015-02-08 10:46:35 -0600 Report


Pegsy 2015-02-10 12:41:59 -0600 Report

This thread is so busy I can't tell who your question is addressed to, LOL. If you are asking about my dosage of R Lipoic Acid, I take 100 mg daily as recommended on the label.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2015-02-08 09:51:58 -0600 Report

Hi Rosa
Guess its worth a try. My BG is low, I don't take diabetes medications
but if it seems to help the tingling in your feet that's worth a try.
Thanks for posting, VL

RebDee 2015-02-08 09:50:14 -0600 Report

I must admit that this discussion was a bit over my head. Are you saying that Thiamin is Vitamin B1? If so, then I am covered because I take a multivitamin plus Vitamin B1 and B12 pills. I thank you Rosalie for your discussions as they make me think and give me advice and information that is quite useful to my well-being, even if I have no idea what you ware talking about (my problem, not yours). Looks like I have somethink to look up for myself.

RosalieM 2015-02-08 10:14:41 -0600 Report

Your multivitamin with Thiamine (B 1) is not enough to prevent complications.
The B1 you are taking is water soluble. Diabetics excrete this form of B1, 25 times faster than non diabetics. The Benfotiamine form has been made to be fat soluble. The fat soluble form makes it possible for diabetics to retain it.
The dose is quite high at least at first.

RebDee 2015-02-08 10:48:06 -0600 Report

Is Benfotiamine a prescription drug? I plan to tell my PCP what you said about B1 being excreted, etc. Will let you know what happens. Thanks for the advise.

RosalieM 2015-02-08 10:59:40 -0600 Report

Hi Rebe,
It is not a prescription drug. You can buy it over the counter. You must get the pharmaceutical grade.
I found it in the diabetic section of supplements at a
vitamin shop.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2015-02-08 09:57:44 -0600 Report

Hi RebDee
I appreciate what you said about this and other posts by
Rosa. But above my head is my problem not hers. But if B-1 can help nueropathy then it is worth a try. Hugs, VL

RosalieM 2015-02-08 10:18:26 -0600 Report

Hi Valentine Lady,
It is not just neuropathy but blood vessels and heart that are affected by shortage of Thiamine. Thiamine (B1)is the nerve vitamin. It is important to have enough of it.

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