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Diet & Nutrition for Beriberi

Beriberi is a vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency. There are different types of beriberi - dry (Wernicke-korsakoff syndrome), wet (cardiovascular disease), oriental and infantile.

Causes of Beriberi

. In adequate intake of thiamine.
. Eating diet in which most calories are derived from polished rice (oriental).
. Excessive alcohol consumption (dry and wet beriberi).
. Inadequate intake in breast feeding mothers (infantile).
. Other cause can be - patients under dialysis, patients receiving high doses of diuretics.
. Rarely - genetic inability to absorb thiamine.

Sign and symptoms of Beriberi

Dry beriberi:
. Glucose metabolism is affected so there is weakness.
. Pain, tingling numbness in hands and feet.
. Difficulty walking.
. Muscle wasting with loss of function or paralysis of lower extremities.
. Strange eye movements - nystagmus.
. Mental confusion and speech difficulties.
. Brain damage - affecting language and thinking.
. Coma.
. Death.
Wet beriberi:
. General swelling.
. Increased heart rate.
. Tachycardia (increased pulse rate).
. Lung congestion.
. Enlarged heart - congestive heart failure.
Infantile beriberi:
. In infantile beriberi the child is usually breast fed & can have sudden convulsions, cyanosis and can go in coma.

Dietary management for Beriberi

. Avoid alcohol.
. Avoid eating unpolished rice or cereals.
. Increase intake of thiamine (vitamin B1):
- Thiamine is found in almost all foodstuffs of animal and plant origin. Fats oils and sugars do not contain thiamine.
- Animal origin: lean meat especially pork, fish, dairy products, poultry, egg yolk are good sources of thiamine.
- Yeast is a very good source of thiamine.
- Plant origin: cereals, pasta, whole grains like rice and wheat germ, dried beans, peas and soybeans are good source of vitamin B1.
- Fruits and vegetables are not high in thiamine content.
. You can take thiamine supplements.
Consult physician
. If any of the above symptoms are observed consult your physician as immediate supplementation of injectable thiamine is essential.
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