February 26, 2018

Now onto the Vita-amines.

So named because they are vital for life and believed to be amines which is true of thiamine. They are conditionally necessary for survival and our bodies cannot synthesize enough forcing animals to consume them through food.

Thiamine: also known as vitamin B1 is a water soluble compound that is necessary for cellular

metabolism of fats, sugars and branched chain amino acids. It is involved in major cardiovascular and neurologic pathways.

Thiamine pyrophosphate is the active form that is necessary for many enzymatic processes important in developmental neurology and metabolism. It requires magnesium to be produced from ingested thiamine.

Thiamine is stored primarily in our bones, heart, brain, liver and kidneys. It is bound to albumin proteins in our blood for circulation around the body.

Thiamine deficiency is known as beri beri. It presents with peripheral neuropathy sometimes called "burning feet syndrome". As it progresses, patients develop weakness and poor sensory function. Optic nerve dysfunction can present as visual loss. The next shoe to drop is on the heart: an increased heart rate, feet swelling and an enlarged heart ultimately lead to congestive heart failure.

Eventually, the brain takes a hit and the symptoms are abnormal eye movements, wobbly gait and cognitive impairment. The end stage is irreversible brain damage and dementia.

Insufficiency states can result from poor nutritional habits. Consequences of inadequate thiamine are worsening blood sugar control, increased risk of cataracts and Alzheimer's disease and other minor metabolic irritations.

We most commonly derive thiamine from whole grain wheat or rice, wheat germ, lentils, spinach, pork, pecans, orange, oatmeal, flax, eggs, asparagus and milk.

Thiamine activity can be disrupted by excessive anti-thiamine factors found in coffee and tea. Alcoholism can disrupt the absorption of B1 in the intestines. I distinctly remember my days at the Grady Memorial Hospital ER on a friday night where most of the gurneys had a patient with a yellow B vitamin loaded IV bag hanging over them. These were called rally packs or banana bags for the color. That was the obvious sign of an alcoholic.

Children need 500 mcg per day which is easily obtained from a quality diet. Adults need closer to 1200 mcg per day.

Thiamine overdose is not possible as it is water soluble and will be excreted in the urine in excess.

As we go through the B vitamins, look at your child's diet and make sure that they are replete with adequate volumes of many of these vitamin rich foods.

Yellow banana bags are hanging somewhere as I write,


Dr. M