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Treating Thiamine Deficiency

Thiamine deficiency is often resulted from inadequate dietary intake or certain medical conditions. In suspected cases, parenteral thiamine should be administered when presented in healthcare facilities. A dose of 50mg is administered intramuscularly and is given for several days. The duration of treatment greatly depends on the severity of symptoms that a patient present. It is continuously given until all symptoms have resolved. Maintenance is recommended at daily dose of 2.5 to 5mg. Not unless there is a suspected malabsorption syndrome, thiamine is administered orally. 

For patients suffering from wet beriberi, it is necessary to provide close attention to cardiac functions. Cardiac support may be indicated to improve cardiac output. If not treated, low cardiac output may lead to heart failure.

In mild cases, eating foods rich in thiamine is sufficient for one’s daily source of the said vitamin. Most vegetables and grains have thiamine. However, you should keep in mind that it is not present in highly refined sugars and fats. You should also be aware that eating raw animal tissues, freshwater fish, mussels, shrimps and milled rice may decrease the body’s ability to absorb thiamine. 

Cassava, one of the staple foods in developing countries may also contain thiamine. However, it is present in very little amount. It only contains around 0.05 to 0.225mg of thiamine in every 100g of cassava. This is due to its high carbohydrate content which actually consumes the vitamin.


The goal of medication is to correct the deficiency, prevent complications and reduce morbidity.

Thiamine (Thiamilate) is usually used by medical doctors to replenish the body’s stores of thiamine pyrophosphate. For mild neuropathy, a dose of 10 to 20mg/d is given intramuscularly twice a day for 2 weeks. Patient suffering from advanced neuropathy on the other hand is given 20 to 30mg/d until all the symptoms resolve. Individuals with Soshin, a type of wet beriberi, treatment involves administration of 100mg of the drug, given intravascularly for several days. It is then followed by 50 to 100mg IV/IM twice a day for several days as well and eventually taper off to 10 to 20 mg IM, 4 times a day until full response.


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