Vitamins & Supplements
Millions of people take dietary supplements, including vitamins, herbs, amino acids, and plant extracts. Yet many consumers are not well-informed about the benefits and risks of the products they take. Learning more about supplements and the industry that provides them can help you make wise choices.
Thiamine was the first water-soluble vitamin to be discovered, and is therefore, also known as vitamin B1. Thiamine deficiency, or beriberi, manifests itself as both wet beriberi, which affects the cardiovascular system, and dry beriberi, which causes neurological dysfunction. People suffering from beriberi exhibit muscle atrophy or wasting (especially in the legs), edema (swelling), mental confusion, intestinal discomfort and an enlarged heart. Severe cases of dry beriberi may result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and acute cases of wet beriberi may cause shoshin beriberi. Both of these extreme forms of the disease are sometimes fatal. In most cases, administering thiamine successfully reverses symptoms associated with thiamine deficiencies.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency responds well to administration of cobalamin. Because absorption in the small intestine is often part of the problem, the best way to administer cobalamin is by intramuscular injection on a daily basis. After 6 weeks, the injections can be decreased to monthly for the rest of the patient's life. Usually, response to this treatment alleviates all symptoms of the disease. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be needed and neurological conditions may not be completely reversed.
Author Info: Juli M. Berwald PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders, 2005
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