A new study has found that deficiency of a single vitamin B1 (or thiamine) can lead to a potentially fatal brain disorder called Wernicke encephalopathy. The condition typically occurs in people who have disorders such as alcoholism and anorexia (an eating disorder) that lead to malnourishment.
Matthew McCoyd, a neurologist at Loyola University Medical Center in the US says, Wernicke encephalopathy is an example of the wide range of brain diseases called encephalopathies that are caused by metabolic disorders and toxic substances. Untreated, the condition can lead to irreversible brain damage and death, he adds.
AdvertisementSymptoms of the condition can include confusion, hallucinations, coma, loss of muscle coordination and vision problems such as double vision and involuntary eye movements.
"Toxic and metabolic encephalopathies may range in severity from the acute confusional state to frank coma," McCoyd added. Wernicke encephalopathy is a medical emergency that requires immediate thiamine treatment either by injection or IV.
"In the absence of treatment, deficiency can lead to irreversible brain damage and death with an estimated mortality of 20 percent," researchers said. Vitamin B1 is found in a wide variety of foods including watermelon, cereal grains, oatmeal, potatoes and eggs.
According to health experts, vitamin B1 keeps your brain healthy. B1 is required for a having healthy nervous system. It helps development of myelin sheaths around the brain cells and plays a vital role in transmission of messages from the brain to different parts of the human body.
Sufficient levels of B1 are also linked with improved learning skills and memory, healthy mood and enhanced emotional well-being. The study says that B1 supplements may reduce the symptoms of mental impairment in people with Alzheimer's.
Like all other B-complex vitamins, B1 also helps in converting carbohydrates present in food to energy. Along with that, it also helps your digestive system to metabolise fats and proteins. The study was published in the journal Scientific American Medicine.
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