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How to treat vitamin B deficiency (beri beri)?

Q: I have been diagnosed as having vitamin B deficiency i.e Beri Beri. I have been on anti-psychotic drugs for the past 5 years. Does antipsychotic treatment lead to loss in vitamin B in the body? Do Becosule (b complex) capsules help in covering up this deficiency or some additional supplements have to be taken? I have read that beri beri is caused by the deficiency of vitamin B1, then why is it necessary to take the other vitamins of the B complex category?

A:Thiamine or vitamin B-1 is a water-soluble vitamin that gets destroyed on heating and pasteurisation. It is required in certain reactions of carbohydrate metabolism and possibly has a role in nerve conduction. Good dietary sources of thiamine are whole grains and legumes but it is not present in fats, oils, and refined sugars. Its deficiency is usually seen in chronic alcoholics and patients with gastro-intestinal diseases who are unable to absorb the vitamin. Severe deficiency has been reported in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, patients on renal dialysis, patients on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and patients with hypermetabolic states (e.g., fever, infection, pregnancy, strenuous exercise). Body stores get depleted within a month of thiamine deprivation but symptoms usually appear within a week in the absence of thiamine intake (palpitations, weakness, neurological symptoms). As beriberi often presents with other B-complex deficiencies, all other vitamins of the B complex are given to the patient as a part of treatment. Recommended treatment is by injections for a few weeks followed by maintenance dose of 2.5-5 mg per day orally, unless a malabsorption syndrome is suspected. Becosule contains 10 mg thiamine.

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