Benfotiamine: For Diabetic Retinopathy And More!

09/10/2019
Arie Ross

Supplements

Getting more from your thiamine supplementation ...

What is it?
Benfotiamine was originally discovered over 50 years ago in roasted crushed garlic and onions. It is a precursor to thiamine (vitamin B1), in which the ring substructure remains open. This means that it is fat soluble and can cross cellular membranes more freely than thiamine's closed-ring structure. Once inside the cell, benfotiamine is quickly converted to thiamine pyrophoshate (TPP), the water-soluble, active coenzyme form of vitamin B1.

What is thiamine?
Thiamine is a water-soluble B vitamin also known as vitamin B1. In its active form (TPP) thiamine is a cofactor in many chemical reactions throughout the body including many of the reactions that convert dietary protein, carbohydrate and fat into energy in our cells. For more information on the benefits of thiamine, please click here.

Improved Absorption
Thiamine requires the body to use transporters to actively move it from the digestive tract into the blood and from the blood into the cells. This means that taking more than 12mg at a time of thiamine, does not significantly increase the amount you absorb because the transport molecules are completely saturated. Benfotiamine, on the other hand, is a molecule that can bypass these transport mechanisms and directly diffuse into your cells, leaving no limit to potential absorption.

Diabetic Neuropathy
Interestingly, benfotiamine has been clinically shown to dramatically improve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and to reduce peripheral nerve pain in diabetics. Prolonged supplementation was found to improve peripheral nerve transmission in diabetics to a level equal to non-diabetic participants, which means it improved the touch sense in their extremeties back to normal levels. It is theorized that benfotiamine protects body cells against damaging glycosylation by excess blood sugar levels. This damage occurs via the same process that creates high levels of HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) in poorly controlled diabetics. HbA1c is commonly tested in diabetics to assess long term glucose control and potential for health risks from their disease. Thus, benfotiamine can help to protect the blood vessels, retina, and nerves against damage from poorly controlled blood sugar. For more information on diabetes.

How do I get more benfotiamine?
All of the B vitamins work together and are best used by the body in a B complex. B complex supplements generally include vitamin B1 in its various forms. Only certain B complexes contain benfotiamine as a precursor to vitamin B1, so if you prefer this type, be sure to check the label on your supplement. The recommended daily dosage of benfotiamine is between 40 and 150mg daily for thiamine supplementation, and between 300 and 450mg daily for glycosylation protection.

Important Information
B1 is depleted by the use of antibiotics, sulfa drugs, oral contraceptives and anti-seizure medications, like Dilantin. Heavy consumption of alcohol, caffeine and sugar decrease levels of thiamine in the body, as does increased strenuous exercise. There is no known toxicity associated with benfotiamine supplementation at this time.

By: Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

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