Did you take your vitamins today? If you forgot, then it might be time to include memory and neurological boosting supplements like Vitamin B1 in your daily dose.
Vitamin B1 is important for all sorts of neurological functions in the body and brain. A shortage of this crucial vitamin can cause your mind to age prematurely, which is why B1 is used to treat a large variety of medical conditions.
While looking for the best B1 supplement, you will likely stumble upon two very popular options. In this guide, we’re going to compare benfotiamine vs thiamine so you can choose the right one for your health needs.
An Overview of Benfotiamine
Benfotiamine is a laboratory-manufactured version of Vitamin B1 and is very similar to thiamine. Our bodies find this over-the-counter drug much easier to absorb compared to the original thiamine substance.
When you take Benfotiamine orally, it will convert into thiamine inside your body. This micronutrient offers the same benefits as thiamine, but is easier for our bodies to absorb and use. That means it may offer more benefits compared to normal or natural thiamine consumption.
Clinical trials indicate that benfotiamine offers similar effects as a placebo. Not enough research has been done on the correct dosage of benfotiamine. But scientists did find that 320 mg of benfotiamine daily was much more effective than 150 grams for patients who suffer from neuropathy. Effective dosages of 300 – 600 mg of benfotiamine have also been observed.
Benfotiamine is the synthetic version of thiamine, a B vitamin that can be found in a wide range of everyday plants, like garlic and onion. This product is manufactured in laboratories through a specific chemical reaction.
You may need to use benfotiamine to restore neurological damage, to prevent or delay the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s disease, or if you have a thiamine deficiency. Many ordinary folks reach for this and other vitamin B products to boost their overall energy levels, athletic performance, and productivity.
Neurological Mechanisms of Benfotiamine
Benfotiamine has quite a few uses and is often mixed in with various supplement types like cognitive enhancers, multivitamins, or energy and performance supplements. It’s believed that this vitamin can promote overall wellbeing, reduce the mental effects of aging, and may be used to treat the following conditions.
Diabetes-related nerve damage
Early research on benfotiamine for treating diabetes-related conditions indicated that the vitamin may be beneficial for reducing the symptoms of nerve damage or neuropathy for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But in other studies, no benefits to nerve functions could be linked to the vitamin. So, for now, the results are inconclusive.
Some also believe that benfotiamine may assist with other diabetes-related complications like kidney disease, eye damage, and heart failure.
More research is required, but it seems that a shortage of Vitamin B1 could be linked to a decline in memory skills and memory. It’s believed that taking benfotiamine may slow cognitive impairment and could potentially assist thinking and remembering in people who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B1 is frequently used in cognitive-enhancing supplements because of its beneficial effect on memory and mental skills.
Long-term alcohol intake or alcohol dependence can lower your body’s thiamine levels. A small study showed that extreme daily dosages of benfotiamine could curb alcohol consumption in women.Another study also indicated that this vitamin could ease the mental distress men experience after they quit drinking.
Other forms of neuropathy
Research has shown that Vitamin B1 can help restore or reduce the symptoms of various neuropathy types. The substance could be helpful for treating back pain, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and other symptoms since the vitamin is responsible for restoring nerve damage.
Research is still ongoing, but many believe that benfotiamine could also be helpful for treating anxiety, depression, and thyroid disease.
Benfotiamine Side Effects
Very little is still known about the safety of using Vitamin B1 for extended periods of time. Some worry that constant use of this substance may trigger the following possible side effects:
- Upset stomach
- Hair Loss
- Weight gain
- Body odor
- Decrease in blood pressure
Side effects are most likely to occur with high doses of vitamin B1. A dosage of over 300 – 900 mg of benfotiamine per day could potentially result in these and other symptoms. It’s always best to speak with a medical professional before you start taking this type of supplement, especially if you are already taking other forms of medication.
Bottom line? Using Benfotiamine could result in negative side effects if you take it along with other medications.
An Overview of Thiamine
Thiamine is the vitamin compound B1. This vitamin can be found in food but is also available in medication or supplement form. When observing the chemical properties of the vitamin, you’ll notice a colorless compound with a sulfuric odor.
Our bodies cannot produce thiamine. We get most of the thiamine we need from food sources like whole grains, legumes, fish, and a few other meat types. The thiamine vitamin can be harvested from these foods to produce oral supplements, but many laboratories produce synthetic thiamine products through a chemical reaction.
Some people’s bodies have a tough time absorbing thiamine from natural foods and start to suffer from a thiamine deficiency. A thiamine deficiency can result in two disorders: beriberi and Wernicke encephalopathy.
A thiamine deficiency is also associated with aging disorders, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s believed that taking thiamine can slow the aging effects of these conditions.
Our bodies also rely on this vitamin for metabolic functions like glucose, amino acid, and lipid metabolism.
Thiamine can be prescribed for various conditions or for Vitamin B1 deficiency. However, it’s much more likely that a medical professional will prescribe benfotiamine since this synthetic vitamin has the same functionality as thiamine but is easier to absorb.
Neurological Mechanisms of Thiamine
Most healthy people don’t need to take additional thiamine because they can get enough of this vitamin through a healthy diet. If you have a difficult time absorbing Vitamin B1 from food, then you can take it in supplement form. People with certain health conditions also need additional thiamine to combat symptoms.
Let’s see a breakdown of some of the main benefits of thiamine:
Can boost athletic performance
Vitamin B1 is a pretty popular ingredient in sports supplements, including sports beverages. Studies indicate that thiamine intake during exercise has positive effects on carbohydrate metabolism. The vitamin decreases lactate concentration and ammonia concentrations in the body.
It’s also considered an anti-fatigue supplement because the product reduces the rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Vitamin B1 is often included in energy-boosting nootropics because the vitamin increases the energy levels of neurological cells.
Athletes also often take other vitamin B products since these vitamins tend to have a wakefulness and body-boosting effect. Some also feel that vitamin B supplements are helpful for improving energy and general focus.
Can help with the maintenance of the heart and heart nerves
Although vitamin B1 deficiency is rare, it has been linked to heart failure. In most cases, this type of deficiency is usually brought on by chronic alcoholism, but it might also be a natural health phenomenon. Since this deficiency can affect your heart’s nerves and overall health, it makes perfect sense to start taking these supplements to boost your heart vessel health and to enhance the strength and performance of nerves that keep your heart pumping.
Can boost the nervous system
Thiamine supports the healthy functioning of the nervous system. This vitamin contributes to cellular energy metabolism. The constant supply of energy to nerve cells in your body and brain optimizes the functionality of these nerve cells, which can prevent the signs of premature aging and assist in mental alertness.
It’s also believed that thiamine can reduce inflammation of the nerves since it’s designed to heal, energize, and boost nerve cell health. The supplements are often prescribed for people with nerve pain that results from diabetes or alcoholism.
Can assist in the treatment of digestive problems
We mentioned earlier that thiamine is essential for maintaining healthy metabolic functions. These supplements can help reduce symptoms associated with medical conditions. Thiamine can be used to treat a poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, or to help in the treatment of ongoing diarrhea. Thiamine deficiency is also quite likely to cause gastrointestinal syndrome.
Can boost the immune system
Patients with AIDS often use thiamine because it boosts the immune system and enhances the performance of nerve cells. This, in return, helps cells ward off diseases and strengthens the immune system.
Can reduce the signs of aging
Elderly people often receive thiamine because it’s believed that this vitamin can stop progressive neurodegeneration of the mind. During trials, seniors with Alzheimer’s who absorbed thiamine showed signs of improvement in cognitive functioning.
This positive cognitive effect also inspired other people to start taking the supplement to prevent premature aging or to maintain healthy brain and neurological functioning.
The benefits and applications of Vitamin B1 span a pretty broad spectrum. This supplement is often taken to treat alcoholism, restore cerebellar balance, treat canker sores, or treat vision problems like cataracts. The research on thiamine is still in its infancy, and we’re pretty sure that many more uses or benefits for this product are bound to surface in the near future.
Since benfotiamine converts into thiamine when it’s consumed, you should get all of these same benefits from the synthetic version of the vitamin.
Side Effects of Taking Thiamine
Most people who take thiamine don’t experience any side effects at all. But there are a few sensitive types who react negatively to these supplements.
You’re more likely to experience negative side effects if you consume more than 50 mg of thiamine per day or if you are already taking other medications. Here’s a quick look at some of the most common side effects this vitamin compound could cause:
- Allergic reactions
- Impaired coordination
- Skin discoloration
- Fluid on the lungs
- Tightness of the throat
Thiamine isn’t known to react poorly with other drugs and thus far, no serious interactions have been documented. Nevertheless, since research on negative reactions have only been done on about 69 different drugs, the possibility is high that there will be some drugs that react negatively to the vitamin. It’s always best to speak with your medical care provider before you start taking any medication or before you decide to discontinue a current treatment.
Benfotiamine vs Thiamine – The Main Differences
There are very few differences between benfotiamine and thiamine since these two substances are chemically identical. Both of these supplements can be beneficial for treating your Vitamin B1 deficiency or neurological condition. Let’s take a look at a few minor differences between these two products.
The leading difference between these two products is that benfotiamine is easier to absorb and then converts into thiamine. This is because our bodies absorb benfotiamine more easily than thiamine and this product converts into thiamine after absorption.
Benfotiamine is a chemical substance that mimics or is identical to, thiamine in chemical structure. Thiamine, on the other hand, is a vitamin compound that is found in various food sources.
Different by nature
Benfotiamine is a synthetic product that’s usually manufactured in laboratory conditions through chemical reactions.
Thiamine can be absorbed by consuming Vitamin B1-rich foods and supplement manufacturers can also harvest the vitamin from natural foods. This vitamin can also be laboratory-made by inducing a chemical reaction.
Both of these products are pretty similar. Between the two, it is probably better to look out for benfotiamine on the ingredient list. This chemical compound might not be all-natural, but your body will absorb it more easily. You will need to consume a much higher dosage of thiamine to get the same Vitamin B1 ratio as benfotiamine. With benfotiamine, your chances of achieving optimal health are much higher since your body is more likely to benefit from these supplements.
Thiamine can, however, be a great alternative if you can’t get your hands on supplements that contain benfotiamine.
When deciding between benfotiamine vs thiamine, just remember that the differences between these two products are relatively minor. Just grab the one that’s easier to find.
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- Carlos Alberto Calderón‐Ospina and Mauricio Orlando Nava‐Mesacorresponding author – B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin – CNS Neurosci Ther. 2020 Jan; 26(1): 5–13.
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