What is Benfotiamine?
Benfotiamine is a derivative of vitamin B1 (thiamine). While B vitamins are naturally water-soluble, synthesized benfotiamine is fat-soluble. Once ingested, ecto-alkaline phosphatases dephosphorylate benfotiamine into S-benzoylthiamine, which thioesters enzymes hydrolyze into thiamine in the liver. Benfotiamine is stable and easier for the body to absorb than thiamine salts.
Vitamin B1 Deficiency Symptoms
Benfotiamine supplements increase cellular concentrations of thiamine diphosphate, another thiamine derivative and a cofactor that catalyzes several biological reactions. In animal studies, benfotiamine increased serum vitamin B1 levels five times greater than an equivalent dose of thiamine. As such, it’s an effective method for avoiding a vitamin B1 deficiency.
Some individuals and medical conditions increase the risk of a B1 deficiency. These include consuming a lot of coffee or tea, eating raw fish regularly, eating a rice-based diet, alcoholism, dialysis, frequent use of diuretics, having diabetes, undergoing bariatric surgery, having a medical condition that inhibits nutrient absorption (e.g., celiac disease), and aging.
Vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms are often vague and can mimic other conditions, which makes it challenging to diagnose. Some health indicators of a B1 deficiency include:
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Pins and needles sensation in the hands
- Tingling extremities
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of sensitivity in hands and feet
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
Potential Benfotiamine Benefits
Benfotiamine and Alpha Lipoic Acid
One study noted that benfotiamine synergized with alpha lipoic acid
to normalize AGEs levels and impede other damaging reactions.
Benfotiamine as an Antioxidant
Benfotiamine inhibits free radical damage, enhances antioxidant defenses, and reduces oxidative stress. It also has anti-inflammatory effects on brain cells, white blood cells, blood vessels, and nerves. It also helps regenerate, repair, and reduce cell death by altering the production of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) enzymes and protein kinase B enzymes. It can support healthy cellular growth by changing how cells use energy.
Benfotiamine boosts thiamine diphosphate, a cofactor the body needs to active transketolase. Transketolase is an enzyme that helps convert sugar into energy instead of harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are the result of a protein or fat binding to sugar. They interfere with normal cell functioning, damage cells, cause premature aging, and can worsen or advance diabetes complications.
Benfotiamine for Pain Management
Benfotiamine has antinociceptive effects, meaning it blocks sensory neurons from detecting painful stimuli. Animal studies found benfotiamine reduced short-term pain (e.g., heat-related pain or burning sensations) and chronic pain. A human clinical trial noted benfotiamine supplements made a pronounced improvement in participants’ nerve pain. Other studies have reported that a combination of benfotiamine and vitamin B6 is also effective for relieving nerve pain. Benfotiamine may improve joint mobility as well by reducing inflammation and pain.
Benfotiamine Side Effects
Benfotiamine does not appear to cause notable side effects based on the available scientific literature. However, some individuals may experience dizziness, nausea, or a dip in blood pressure. Individuals with sulfur sensitivities or allergies should not take benfotiamine, as it contains sulfur. Individuals should consult with a physician before taking new supplements.
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