What is Benfotiamine?
If you haven’t heard of benfotiamine before, you should. In fact, if your body has a thiamine or benfotiamine deficiency, you may face serious health complications. These deficiencies have been linked to emotional disturbances, dangerous weight loss, impaired sensory perception, periods of irregular heart rate and much worse.
Benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine, which is commonly known as vitamin B1. In most countries, people use it as a dietary supplement as well as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy. There is some evidence that suggests benfotiamine taken as a supplement could be an effective therapeutic agent for common diabetes complications.
It’s important to have a proper amount of thiamine in your body to support the heart, nerve and muscle functions. Your thiamine levels also effect how your body metabolizes glucose. Studies show that taking thiamine as a supplement has trouble crossing all cell membranes, but when taken as a pure benfotiamine supplement in the form of capsule or powder, it has an easier time being diffused among plasma membranes.
As stated before, having the proper levels of benfotiamine in your diet is crucial to avoid certain health complications. Benfotiamine has been linked to the following benefits (x):
Improved Complications from Diabetes
Benfotiamine on its own in its natural form, or as a supplement, helps to reduce complications caused by high blood pressure and diabetes. It does this by increasing the levels of insulin in the body while also helping to break down the sugar your body needs to convert into essential energy. In diabetics, this supplement can help improve numbness, weakness and neuropathy caused by diabetes related nerve damage. It can also help guard against high amounts of AGE’s (advanced glycation end Products) in food. For those with diabetes who are suffering from poor circulation, benfotiamine is a safe option to help improve blood flow and speed muscle regeneration. High blood sugar has a negative effect on the cells of the retina, and benfotiamine is an effective tool in the fight to protect your vision (x, x, x, x, x).
Healthy Glucose Levels
Sugar has a lot of dangerous side effects when too much is allowed to circulate in the body. Benfotiamine supplements help to protect your body from these effects while also fighting the effects of damage caused by free radicals. In patients that have glucose control issues, benfotiamine is able to reduce harmful glucose metabolites and stop the formation of some proteins known to cause micro-vascular damage. It is also capable of helping with nerve conduction and vibratory sensation while reducing the pain from nerve damage (x).
Recovery from Heart Attack
Benfotiamine supplements encourage new blood vessels to grow and also reduce the rate of cell death in the heart. As a result, benfotiamine may help patients recover more quickly following a heart attack. As a supplement, it has shown reduced damage to the heart and strengthened the heart muscles in patients recovering from cardiac arrest (x,x).
Healthy Brain Function
Benfotiamine supplements and increased amounts of thiamine from natural sources have shown to reduce the symptoms of depression significantly. By consuming regular doses of benfotiamine, the production of GSK3B is reduced, resulting in an increase of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin helps to heal damaged connections in the brain and also reduces anxiety. The supplement can also protect cells in the brain from the damage caused by free radicals, which helps to reduce inflammation, boost immune defenses and inhibit various neurodegenerative diseases (x, x, x, x).
Reduced Negative Effects of Alcohol
Taking a dose of benfotiamine a half hour after drinking alcohol has shown to prevent liver damage in mice. Doing the same after the occasional cocktail may help to prevent the same type of damage in humans. Habitual drinkers usually suffer from thiamine deficiencies, which results in an impairment of their cognitive abilities. Regular consumption of benfotiamine has shown to relieve these depressive symptoms in people who drink often (x, x, x).
Food Sources of Benfotiamine
Adding these foods to your diet will help you consume the recommended daily amount of benfotiamine and vitamin B1.
- Lean Pork Chops (6oz chop): 1.1mg, 96% DV (x)
- Asparagus (1 cup cooked): 0.3mg, 24% DV (x)
- Flax Seeds (1 oz): 0.5mg, 39% DV(x)
- Salmon (6oz fillet): 0.6mg, 48% DV (x)
- Navy Beans (1 cup): 0.4mg, 36% DV (x)
- Green Peas (1 cup cooked): 0.4mg, 35% DV (x)
- Brown Rice (1 cup): 0.4mg, 30% DV (x)
If you’d like to add supplements to your diet, different forms are available. Choose the form that works best for your diet and lifestyle, and remember to always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your nutrition routine. The optimal dosage for supplemental benfotiamine powder is 150 mg (once or twice daily).
Benfotiamine Side Effects
When consumed according to the recommended dosage, benfotiamine is typically safe. However, there are a few unwanted but generally mild side effects to note. In rare cases where an extreme side effect occurs, you should stop taking the supplement immediately and seek medical attention. Despite reams of research, there are not many studies listing interactions of thiamine and benfotiamine supplements (x, x).
Thiamine and benfotiamine supplements are generally safe when taken orally in small doses. They can also be safely administered via IV in a doctor’s office. In patients who exhibit pre-existing liver problems or who drink alcohol to excess, the supplement may not enter the body properly.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Like many other supplements, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should speak with a doctor before adding benfotiamine to their regimen. There are currently no studies regarding the effects of large doses on the body.
Some rare, yet mild side effects noted when taking benfotiamine supplements are (x):
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight gain
- Itching and skin rash
- Swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or eyelids
Benfotiamine can contain sulfur, so those with a sulfur sensitivity should avoid taking it.
The Bottom Line
Benfotiamine, which is basically the fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, has a range of positive health benefits, the most notable being those that affect diabetics. Many studies and real-world patients suggest that a regular diet of benfotiamine-rich foods, or those who regularly take benfotiamine supplements, have been able to manage diabetic complications. For people looking to help manage high sugar levels, it is also a great way to reduce glucose levels without prescription medication. It’s a highly effective and naturally occurring thiamine-derived compound. It can be found in many foods you eat daily such as in vegetables and roasted garlic. The cost of benfotiamine supplements paired with its safety profile makes a good option for diabetics and those suffering from a range of health complications.
By: Heather Howell