Thiamine Deficiency and Alcoholism

 

Thiamine and other B vitamins get depleted with alcohol consumption. Thiamine deficiency prevents the body from converting sugar into energy. This deficiency leads to a condition known as “wet brain” syndrome.

Brain Damage

Brain damage is a very real risk that alcoholics face. As a recovering alcoholic, you are at risk from brain damage induced from abusing alcohol for a long time. You may find it difficult to remember things, names, faces, and discussions that you may have had earlier. The risk of thiamine deficiency persists even after you have successfully negotiated the alcohol withdrawal stage.

Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is essential for the smooth working of enzymes that metabolize sugar. These enzymes are vital for the smooth functioning of many biochemical functions, which includes the synthesis of neurotransmitters and fatty acids.

Body Process

Thiamine is not produced by the body; it has to be obtained through diet. Sources of thiamine include milk, oranges, legumes, and eggs. The daily recommended dose of thiamine for men is 1.2 mg and for women it is 1.1 mg. The daily intake of alcoholics is usually less than a third of this requirement. Alcohol also prevents the absorption of thiamine from the intestines. Poor intake of thiamine coupled with faulty absorption leads to a thiamine deficiency in the body of an alcoholic. Alcoholics also suffer from low levels of magnesium in the body. This impacts the production of enzymes mentioned above. Therefore, even if there is thiamine available, the absence of enzymes that use it leads to imbalances in the body.  

Testing Levels

As a recovering or recovered alcoholic, you need to get thiamine levels tested from time to time. Brain disorders arising from alcohol abuse, for example, cerebellar degeneration, may appear after ten years of heavy drinking. The good news is that conditions that arise from thiamine deficiency can be treated and also reversed. Recovering alcoholics should begin with thiamine supplements from the detoxification stage and then continue with it. Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin, and excess amounts are excreted. It can safely be consumed daily.

Thiamine deficiency results in Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), which is characterized by short-term Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a longer-lasting condition known as Korsakoff’s psychosis. Memory loss and impaired movements characterize the first condition. The second condition is characterized by amnesia.

Giving up Drinking

Giving up alcohol and increasing thiamine intake enables alcoholics to regain their memory and movement.

A thiamine-rich diet or thiamine supplements, along with regular checks for thiamine levels are the recipe for regaining mental faculties and boosting brain health.

Long-term sobriety should be your ultimate objective. In order to achieve this objective, you need to fulfill several other objectives; maintaining thiamine levels in the body is one such objective.

If you have any questions about quitting drinking and sticking with it, then Hired Power can help you. We are an addiction intervention and recovery case management center. Call us and we would love to work alongside you to ensure that you regain your health and sobriety. Call us. 800-910-9299