Growing Evidence of a Link between Diabetes and Thiamine

Patients with diabetes often develop thiamine deficiency secondary to elevated blood sugar. This deficiency is so common that some experts have referred to it as an epidemic.

Patients with diabetes often develop thiamine deficiency secondary to elevated blood sugar. This deficiency is so common that some experts have referred to it as an epidemic.

Thiamine deficiency creates a constellation of conditions similar to atherosclerosis, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction. Nevertheless, correcting this deficiency may improve some cardiometabolic parameters and prevent complications secondary to chronic hyperglycemia.

The January 2014 issue of Clinical Medical Insights: Diabetes and Endocrinology included a study that examined the potential benefit of thiamine supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypothesizing that supplementation would improve cardiometabolic parameters. For their small study, a team of researchers enrolled 60 T2DM patients and 26 age- and weight-matched controls. They prescribed thiamine 100 mg/day for 6 months and measured anthropometrics and metabolic profiles routinely.

Although the study authors documented a significant decrease in total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol at 3 months, which continued through the 6-month period in all study participants, those improvements were greater in magnitude among the T2DM patients, who also experienced improvements in overall lipid profile and serum thiamine.

In addition, mean serum creatinine levels improved after 6 months of supplementation, which made this the first study to indicate thiamine supplementation can improve kidney function.

Due to the study’s small size, more research is needed to determine if routine thiamine supplementation in those with diabetes improves overall health and has a protective effect against T2DM complications.