Looks as if I’m going to have to eat a bit of crow.
You know how I’m usually the first one to speak up to say “natural” is always better than “synthetic”? It turns out, however, that this may not always be true, at least when it comes to taming your blood-sugar level.
Let me explain.
Your body naturally produces an enzyme called transketolase (TKT) that plays a vital role in glucose metabolism.
But in order for the enzyme to do its job effectively, there must also be enough thiamine, or vitamin B1, present in your body as well.
75% of type 2 diabetics are low in thiamine
Research has shown that diabetics tend to be low in… yes, you guessed it… thiamine.
In fact, a ground breaking study published in the journal Diabetologia back in October 2007 revealed that thiamine concentrations in the blood of Type 1 diabetic volunteers were 76% below those of normal volunteers. And Type 2 diabetics didn’t really fare much better, at 75% below the normal volunteer’s levels.
Now, if you’re anything like me you might be thinking, “Well, heck, then I’ll just pop some thiamine supplements to top up my levels and that should fix the problem.”
It seems like a logical solution, right?
But there’s a problem. Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin. That means that taking a bunch of thiamine supplements… if you can even find them… isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good. The vitamin would end up just passing quickly through your system with most of it exiting in your urine.
This is where the whole “synthetic” issue comes into play. While it’s difficult for your body to absorb very much water-soluble thiamine as it hightails it through your system, a synthetic version of the vitamin, called benfotiamine, is fat-soluble, which means that your body is able to absorb it much more efficiently.
Benfotiamine can be absorbed up to 5x more efficiently
In fact, estimates are that benfotiamine can be absorbed up to five times more efficiently than its cousin thiamine!
Once absorbed, your body puts the vitamin right to work helping to restore metabolic balance—which can help ward off the oxidative damage to your body caused by elevated blood-sugar levels.
And here’s where things start to get really exciting.
According to a study published in the Italian journal Pharmacological Research, benfotiamine increases the levels of thiamine in the body. In turn this gives a boost to the important glucose-metabolism-related enzyme I told you about earlier TKT.
This means that the cells in your body may be able to use glucose more efficiently instead of letting the excess sugar just sit around causing further oxidative damage to your nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
But that’s not the only trick benfotiamine has up its sleeve. Far from it.
Benfotiamine is a multitasking nutrient
According to the same Pharmacological Research study, its role in reducing inflammation and oxidative damage makes it a prime candidate for helping to fight diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy too.
And a study published in the journal Circulation: Health Failure found that benfotiamine may be able to reduce one of the most severe of diabetic complications, diabetic cardiomyopathy!
Frankly, after doing the research on benfotiamine I can’t imagine its not being included in every diabetic’s arsenal against this deadly disease.
While some studies on it are still “preliminary”—meaning we need additional human studies to be completed—what we already know is more than enough to convince me that every diabetic should be taking it.
In fact, I just made a phone call home to encourage my mother to talk to her doctor about starting to take a supplement that includes benfotiamine.
Now that I’m done I’m thinking that eating crow might not be that bad as long as I can skip the humble pie for dessert.