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About Beriberi

Beriberi is basically a disorder that is caused by the deficiency of thiamine, which is also known as Aneurin and vitamin B1. This is actually a water-soluble, heat-labile vitamin that works as a coenzyme on a range of metabolic pathways. The prescribed daily intake is 1.2 mg. The cardiovascular, muscular, gastrointestinal and nervous systems can come under the effect of Beriberi.

The word '
beri' means fragile in Sinhala, in Sri Lankan language. Beriberi means extremely weak. Another meaning is 'I cannot, I cannot'.

Beriberi was used to be endemic in some parts of the world and may be associated with the intake of milled rice. The process eliminates the outer crust that features the vitamin and, in Indonesia particularly, the condition was very prevalent. The disease is known to affect adults and infants between 1 and 4 months old. Better nutrition, health publicity, and heightened public awareness all lead to mitigation in occurrence since the 1980s.

Beriberi is often referred as 'dry beriberi' when features are neurological and muscular and 'wet beriberi' when there is mainly heart failure. Physical revealing include:

  • Whiteness and waxy skin.
  • Indications of malnutrition and wasting.
  • Lethargy, weakness.
  • Tachycardia, hepatomegaly, cardiomegaly and peripheral edema.
  • Paranesthesia and peripheral neuropathy, such as depressed tendon reflexes.

Causes of Beriberi

Beriberi is caused by a shortage of thiamine. This vitamin is produced by a range of plants and microorganisms, but not generally by animals. Small amounts may be generated by microorganisms in the gut.

About 5mg of thiamine a day can be engrossed by the gut. About 25 - 30mg is saved in the body.Large amounts are available in skeletal muscles (about one-half of body stores), heart, liver, kidneys, and brain.The suggested daily allowance of thiamine in men is between 1.2 - 1.5 mg and in women between 1 - 1.2 mg per day.

Thiamine is largely present in foods and is only lacking from fats, cassava, and refined sugar. The outer layers of cereal grains are specifically rich in thiamine, therefore machine milled rice and other extremely processed staple foods such as unfortified, sifted, white maize meal, are insufficient sources of the vitamin. Since 2003, thiamine is included in maize meal and wheat flour in South Africa.

Risk Factors

In developed countries, thiamine deficiency takes place in alcoholics, individuals who consume unbalanced diets, such as patients suffering from anorexia nervosa or orthorexia, the ever-rising number of individuals who have faced bariatric surgery for the treatment of obesity, and in people who are undergoing dialysis for kidney disorder or getting total parenteral nutrition (TPN) due to multivitamin infusion shortage. In 2005, an outbreak of life-threatening thiamine deficiency was seen in infants in Israel who got an imperfect soy-based method which was poor in thiamine.

In developing nations, the disorder is generally due to the intake of highly refined staple foods such as milled rice and unfortified sifted white rice. An eruption of beriberi was reported in Thailand in 2005 among saleable fishermen, which was primarily attributed to malnutrition caused by eating only seafood and polished rice for almost two months.

Regular needs for thiamine diminish when fat creates a large portion of the diet and surge up when the diet is rich in carbohydrates. Pregnancy, lactation, an overexcited thyroid, and fever trigger the need for thiamine.

Enhanced loss of thiamine from the body may take place with diuretic treatment, hemodialysis
 and diarrhea. Faulty absorption can happen in malabsorption states, alcoholism, chronic malnutrition and folate deficiency.

Treatments for Beriberi


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