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Benfotiamine

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Updated August 02, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Benfotiamine is a natural substance derived from thiamine (also known as vitamin B1). Consuming benfotiamine is thought to raise blood and tissue levels of thiamine and, in turn, protect against health problems associated with low thiamine levels.

Widely available in supplement form, benfotiamine is found naturally in garlic, onions, leeks, and other members of the allium family of vegetables. Many supplements contain a synthetic form of benfotiamine.

Why Do People Use Benfotiamine?

Low thiamine levels are linked to a range of health problems, including nerve and heart disorders. Since thiamine may not be efficiently absorbed by the body, some people use benfotiamine to increase their thiamine levels and manage certain health conditions.

For example, benfotiamine is often touted as a natural remedy for the following:

In addition, benfotiamine is said to slow the aging process, enhance exercise performance, boost mood, improve brain function, and reduce alcohol cravings.

Some proponents also suggest that benfotiamine can shield the body from the harmful effects of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). A type of toxin produced by broiling, frying, or grilling meat or other animal products, AGEs may trigger inflammation and contribute to a number of health issues.

Health Benefits of Benfotiamine

To date, research on the potential health benefits of benfotiamine is somewhat limited. However, there's some evidence that benfotiamine may help with certain health conditions. Here's a look at some key study findings:

1) Diabetes

Benfotiamine may be of some benefit to people with diabetes, according to a small study published in Diabetes Care in 2006. For the study, 13 people with type 2 diabetes were given a meal with a high content of AGEs before and after three days of ingesting 1,050 mg of benfotiamine daily. Study results showed that benfotiamine appeared to protect against oxidative stress induced by intake of AGEs.

See other Natural Therapies for Diabetes.

2) Neuropathy

Several small studies indicate that benfotiamine may aid in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy (a condition marked by nerve damage that results from diabetes-related elevation in blood sugar levels).

A 2005 study from the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, for instance, found that three weeks of treatment with benfotiamine significantly reduced pain in a group of patients with diabetic neuropathy. The study involved 40 patients with a history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes; half of the patients received two 50 mg benfotiamine tablets four times daily, while the other half received a placebo.

In a report published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, scientists note that benfotiamine's antioxidant action may be responsible for its beneficial effects on diabetic neuropathy.

3) Alzheimer's Disease

Benfotiamine shows promise for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, according to a 2010 study published in Brain. In tests on mice, scientists demonstrated that animals given benfotiamine for eight weeks experienced significant improvement in cognitive function. The study's authors note that benfotiamine helped fight the buildup of amyloid plaque (a phenomenon closely linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease).

Side Effects of Benfotiamine

Although little is known about the safety of taking benfotiamine for an extended period of time, there's some concern that benfotiamine supplements may trigger certain side effects (such as upset stomach and a decrease in blood pressure).

Dosage

The safest and most effective dosage of benfotiamine is presently unknown. If you're considering the use of benfotiamine supplements, talk to your doctor to determine which (if any) dosage of benfotiamine is right for you.

Where to Find Benfotiamine Supplements

Widely available for purchase online, benfotiamine supplements can also be found in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Haupt E, Ledermann H, Köpcke W. "Benfotiamine in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy--a three-week randomized, controlled pilot study (BEDIP study)." Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Feb;43(2):71-7.

Pan X, Gong N, Zhao J, Yu Z, Gu F, Chen J, Sun X, Zhao L, Yu M, Xu Z, Dong W, Qin Y, Fei G, Zhong C, Xu TL. "Powerful beneficial effects of benfotiamine on cognitive impairment and beta-amyloid deposition in amyloid precursor protein/presenilin-1 transgenic mice." Brain. 2010 May;133(Pt 5):1342-51.

Schmid U, Stopper H, Heidland A, Schupp N. "Benfotiamine exhibits direct antioxidative capacity and prevents induction of DNA damage in vitro." Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2008 Jul-Aug;24(5):371-7.

Stirban A, Negrean M, Stratmann B, Gawlowski T, Horstmann T, Götting C, Kleesiek K, Mueller-Roesel M, Koschinsky T, Uribarri J, Vlassara H, Tschoepe D. "Benfotiamine prevents macro- and microvascular endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress following a meal rich in advanced glycation end products in individuals with type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Care. 2006 Sep;29(9):2064-71.

Stracke H, Lindemann A, Federlin K. "A benfotiamine-vitamin B combination in treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy." Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1996;104(4):311-6.

Winkler G, Pál B, Nagybéganyi E, Ory I, Porochnavec M, Kempler P. "Effectiveness of different benfotiamine dosage regimens in the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy." Arzneimittelforschung. 1999 Mar;49(3):220-4.

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