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
Matthew McCoyd, a neurologist at Loyola University
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.
Symptoms of the
condition can include confusion, hallucinations, coma, loss of muscle
coordination and vision problems such as double vision and involuntary eye
"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
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.