Efficacy Concerns Surround Supplement Used to Treat Diabetes

Researchers in Belgium recently determined that a synthetic derivative of vitamin B1, benfotiamine, is not as effective as previously thought in treating diabetes. 


The study was published in the BioMed Central Journal and determined that benfotiamine doesn’t dissolve and penetrate cell membranes as well as claims said it did.

"We studied the compound and found its properties were not as advertised," said Lucien Bettendorff, a biochemist at the University of Liege in Belgium. "It is said it is good for the brain but this is not the case, according to our study."

Vitamin B1 is commonly referred to as thiamine and helps maintain healthy cells. Diabetics typically have lower natural levels of thiamine in their blood and rely on supplements like vitamin B1 to maintain healthy levels.

Consumers are increasingly turning to condition specific supplements to treat their specific ailments as Americans spent $564 million on supplements aimed at treating diabetes in 2006, according to NBJ research. NBJ estimates also indicated that Vitamin B sales cracked the billion dollar mark for the first time in 2007, selling $1.04 billion in the U.S.

Researchers believe the manufacturers will need to adjust their claims as a result of this study. "It did not dissolve so it can't work its way through the membranes," Bettendorff said. "This is clearly an error from a chemical point of view." Read more.

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