Vitamin B1 may help diabetic kidney health: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Diabetes mellitus Thiamine

High-dose vitamin B1 supplements may protect against kidney damage, a condition said to threaten one in three diabetics, according to a new study from England and Pakistan.

Daily 300 milligram doses of thiamine (B1) for three months were found to reduce the rate of albumin excretion in type 2 diabetics by 41 per cent, which would

The albumin excretion rate was decreased by 41% from the value at the start of the study. The results also showed 35% of patients with microalbuminuria saw a return to normal urinary albumin excretion after being treated with thiamine.

Microalbuminuria occurs when small amounts of albumin – the most abundant protein in human serum - leaks from the kidney into the urine. It is a marker of early kidney disease development in diabetics.

An estimated 19 million people are affected by diabetes in the EU, equal to four per cent of the total population. This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030.

“In this pilot study, high-dose thiamine therapy produced a regression of urinary albumin excretion (UAE) in type-2 diabetic patients with microalbuminuria,”​ wrote the researchers in the journal Diabetologia​.

“Thiamine supplements at high dose may provide improved therapy for early-stage diabetic nephropathy.”

Study details

Researchers from the University of Warwick in England, and Sheikh Zayed Federal Postgraduate Medical Institute and the University of the Punjab in Pakistan recruited 40 type-2 diabetics to take part in their pilot study. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either three daily capsules containing either 100 mg of thiamine or placebo for three months. This was followed by two months of additional wash-out period.

A decrease in urinary albumin excretion (UAE) – the primary endpoint for the study – was observed in the subjects receiving the thiamine supplements. The average decrease was 17.7 mg in a 24 hour period (41 per cent). On the other hand, no significant changes were observed in UAE in the placebo group.

Furthermore, 35 per cent of patients in the thiamine group saw a return to normal urinary albumin excretion after supplementation.

“This study once again highlights the importance of Vitamin B1 and we need to increase awareness,”​ said Dr Naila Rabbani from the University of Warwick, and lead author of the study.

Additional benefits from thiamine

The same Warcick-based researchers reported last year that thiamine supplements may boost vascular health for diabetics. Also in the journal Diabetologia, lead researcher Paul Thornalley and co-workers reported that the thiamine concentration in blood plasma was decreased by about 75 per cent in both type 1 and 2 diabetics.

This earlier research, funded by British charity Diabetes UK, highlighted the potential of thiamine supplements to decrease the risk of microvascular complications in diabetes.

Source: Diabetologia​Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00125-008-1224-4“High-dose thiamine therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria: a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study”​Authors: N. Rabbani, S.S. Alam, S. Riaz, J.R. Larkin, M.W. Akhtar, T. Shafi, P.J. Thornalley

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