Can vitamin B1 help diabetics?

London: The vitamin B1 is excreted faster in diabetics than in healthy people, according to a new study by the Warwick Medical School.

Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is important in keeping the body’s circulatory system healthy but is dispelled by diabetics 15 times more quickly than in healthy people.

This deficiency could increase the chance of heart attacks and strokes, which account for around 80 per cent of diabetes deaths.

The discovery may mean that high-dose vitamin B1 supplements could therefore reduce the risk of patients developing heart problems. Another option would be to develop drugs to stop the kidneys getting rid of so much of the vitamin. The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, involved 74 diabetics and 20 healthy volunteers.

Thiamine concentration in the blood was 76 per cent lower in Type 1 diabetics and 75 per cent lower in Type 2 diabetics.

Lack of thiamine is believed to increase the risk of heart problems because it affects the working of special cells which line the body’s circulatory system.

Professor Paul Thornalley, who led the study, is now running a trial to test whether patients given extra doses of the vitamin have healthier hearts.

He is giving patients a tablet containing 300milligrams of vitamin B1 a day. The average daily nutritional intake of vitamin-By Daniel Martin

Health Reporter B1 is 1mg – meaning changes to diet would not be enough to have an effect.

Matt Hunt, science information manager at the charity Diabetes UK, which funded the study, said it could lead to ‘very exciting outcomes’.

He added: ‘Researchers are already looking into the effect of giving people the vitamin in tablet form to see if early kidney damage can be reversed.

‘From there, work could be done to see what effect supplementing vitamin B1 levels could have on other complications of diabetes such as nerve and eye damage.’

More than 1.9million Britons are Type 2 diabetic and up to 750,000 more are undiagnosed. Type 2 is linked to obesity and up to half of cases could be prevented through changes to diet and exercise.

Around 300,000 Britons are Type 1 diabetic, which is present from childhood.