Study Says Obese Patients May Be Deficient in This Vitamin

Thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency was found in up to one-third of obese patients seeking bariatric surgery, according to data from a large-scale study. Findings fare published in Advances in Nutrition.

Multiple nutrient deficiencies in general are more common among obese people than in non-obese people. The higher incidence of malnutrition may be due to reduced absorption and increased excretion of nutrients as well as varied metabolism or physiologic requirements.

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Thiamin is a micronutrient involved in glucose metabolism and healthy tissue and organ function. The main reason for thiamin deficiency in obese people is due to a diet high in simple sugars and low in whole grains, legumes, and other whole foods where thiamin is naturally found. Further depletion of thiamin may occur with metabolism of simple sugars that require high amounts of thiamin. Study authors also noted that thiamin deficiency is not a common diagnosis unless the patient is known to abuse alcohol because the symptoms are vague and may be common in other disorders.

More research is needed to better understand the association between obesity and thiamin deficiency. The incidence of thiamin deficiency in the pre-operative bariatric surgery population may not accurately represent the prevalence in the general obese population since weight loss diets and exercises may lead to thiamin deficiency. The study authors encourage clinicians to consider thiamin deficiency in patients who are obese or dieting.

For more information visit advances.nutrition.org.

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