Deficiency Disorders of Thiamin

ID-100114838The deficiency of thiamin is not a common problem these days (which was prevalent in many areas of the world only a few decades ago) although it is still prevalent in many developing countries. Due to improved socioeconomic conditions in many parts of the world and diversification of diet has resulted in reduction of thiamin deficiency. But manifestations of minor degrees of thiamin deficiency are still seen in many areas during nutritional surveys, which are calf tenderness, absence of ankle and knee jerks etc. Deficiency of thiamin is seen among chronic alcoholics in Western countries.

Thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency is more common among rice eating population, where highly polished rice is eaten. The most of the thiamin in rice is present in the outermost layer of rice, which is removed during milling of rice and large portion of the vitamin is also lost during cooking (because thiamin is water soluble vitamin and destroyed during heating).

Thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency mainly causes two types of deficiency disorders beriberi and Wernick’s encephalopathy. Beriberi mainly occurs in three forms namely dry beriberi, wet beriberi and infantile beriberi.

Dry beriberi:

The manifestations of dry beriberi are mainly of nerve involvement like peripheral neuritis. Nutritional replacement of thiamin can solve the problem of peripheral neuritis.

Wet beriberi:

The manifestations of wet beriberi are mainly of cardiac type and it is also known as cardiac beriberi.

Infantile beriberi:

Infantile beriberi is mainly seen in infants of 2-4 months of age. The baby who suffers from infantile beriberi is generally fed by thiamin deficient mother. The mother generally shows signs of peripheral neuropathy (neuritis).

Wernick’s encephalopathy:

This is most commonly seen in chronic alcoholics who have many other nutritional deficiencies. The characteristics of Wernick’s encephalopathy are mental deterioration, polyneuritis, ophthalmoplegia, and ataxia. Wernick’s encephalopathy can also occurs in persons on fasting.

 

“Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

 

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