Thiamine is other name for vitamin B12. Vitamins are classified as fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Thiamine is one of the water soluble vitamins. It is required by the body in certain amounts.
If body does not get its daily requirement of vitamin B12, then over a period of time it results in deficiency of thiamine in the body. Deficiency of thiamine causes diseases called as beriberi and wernicke’s encephalopathy. Excessive drinking of alcohol is the most common cause of thiamine deficiency found in western countries of the world.
Dry beriberi, wet beriberi and infantile beriberi are the 3 types of beriberi. In dry beriberi, the disease pathology involves the nerves. There are symptoms like decreased sensation over the extremities, anorexia, muscle cramps and burning pains in palms and soles.
In wet beriberi, the heart is involved. Symptoms like chest pain, increase in pulse rate, decrease in blood pressure and oedema over legs is common. The third type of beriberi affects infants between two to four years of age.
Hence it is called infantile beriberi. Infants suffer from thiamine deficiency because the milk that they drink is deficient in thiamine. So the mother actually has deficiency of thiamine which is passed to the infant during lactation period.
Alcoholism, fasting are the factors usually responsible for wernicke’s encephalopathy. Ankle jerks and knee jerks are normal responses by the healthy human body.
When there is thiamine deficiency, there is absence of ankle and knee jerks. It is associated with loss of appetite and pain in calf muscles on pressure. Confusion, irritability, decrease in sensation over the skin of legs, foot drop, atrophy of muscles and paralysis are seen in wernicke’s encephalopathy.
The daily recommended allowance is 0.5 mg per 1000 kcal of energy intake. Groundnuts, oilseeds, cereals and pulses contain high content of thiamine. So these foods should be included in your every day meal.
Even pregnant women should eat these foods in sufficient amounts, so that she does not become deficient in B12 vitamin and would not pass the disease to her newborn. Restrict alcohol intake and eat balanced diet containing thiamine rich food to prevent thiamine deficiency.