What Is Benfotiamine?

This thiamine derivative may help diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer's

Benfotiamine capsules, tablets, almonds, lentils, and pasta

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

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Benfotiamine is a dietary supplement. It is used to treat diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) and Alzheimer's disease.

Benfotiamine is a lab-created version of thiamine (vitamin B1). Your body absorbs it better than natural B1. So some people use it to raise thiamine levels.

This article looks at the uses and possible side effects of benfotiamine, how to take it, and what to look for when buying it.

2:04

Click Play to Learn About the Uses of Benfotiamine

This video has been medically reviewed by Anju Goel, MD, MPH.

What Is Benfotiamine Used For?

Thiamine deficiency is rare in the United States.

You may be at risk if your diet is:

  • High in refined carbohydrates (like white rice)
  • High in unfortified white flour products
  • Low in whole grains

Medical conditions that may put you at risk include:

Regular strenuous exercise also raises your risk.

Low thiamine can lead to nerve, heart, and brain conditions. Benfotiamine can boost thiamin levels and help prevent these effects.

Some research suggests benfotiamine may block the harmful effects of glycotoxins. Those are found in high-fat meats.

Glycotoxins trigger inflammation. They may also speed up some aging-related degenerative diseases.

This supplement is also touted as a treatment for:

Little research exists to support these uses.

Some research supports its use for diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer's disease.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetes involves high blood sugar levels, which can damage blood vessels and cause diabetic neuropathy.

Symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Pain or diminished sensation in the feet
  • Burning or shooting pains in the lower legs
  • Balance and coordination problems

In one study, people with type-2 diabetes took 1,050 milligrams (mg) of benfotiamine a day. Then they ate meals high in glycotoxins. Benfotiamine appeared to protect against the glycotoxins' effects.

Another study tested two doses of benfotiamine (300 and 600 mg a day). Researchers noted a small improvement in neuropathy symptoms. The higher dose was more effective.

But not all research has been positive.

  • A short study found it didn't significantly lower the impact of high blood sugars.
  • A two-year study on type-1 diabetes found no significant effects on nerve function or inflammation.

More research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a degenerative brain disease.

Symptoms include:

  • Progressive memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Misplacing things
  • Getting lost
  • Mood and personality changes

AD symptoms are believed to involve abnormal clumps of proteins in the brain. They're called amyloid plaques. Those features may be linked to processes in your body that rely on thiamine. But thiamine supplements have been found ineffective for slowing disease progression or reducing symptoms.

Benfotiamine drew attention because it's easier for your body to use. In an animal study, it appeared to lower numbers of amyloid plaques and improve brain function.

In a small 2016 study, people with AD took 300 mg of benfotiamine a day for 18 months. They all had some cognitive improvement.

These results suggest benfotiamine may be a helpful AD treatment. More research is needed, though.

Possible Side Effects

Little is known about the long-term safety of benfotiamine.

It may cause side effects such as:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Body odor
  • Decrease in blood pressure

A 2017 review reported no side effects when benfotiamine was given to people with various conditions. Doses ranged from 300 mg to 900 mg per day.

In one study, several people reported nausea and indigestion when they reached about 7,000 mg a day.

While your body converts benfotiamine into thiamine, the effects may not be the same.

The safety of supplements hasn't been established for: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Nursing mothers
  • Children
  • Those with medical conditions
  • Those taking medications

Benfotiamine contains sulfur. Don't take it if you have a sulfur sensitivity.

Almonds, lentils, and pasta

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation

No safe or effective dosage recommendations have been established for benfotiamine as a treatment for any condition.

Some neuropathy and AD studies have used dosages between 300 mg and 600 mg. Others have been as high as 1,050 daily mg without significant problems.

If you want to try benfotiamine supplements, talk to your healthcare provider. They can guide you on whether it's safe for you and guide you regarding dosage.

While few side effects have been reported, extremely high doses aren't advised.

What to Look For

Benfotiamine supplements are widely available online and in stores specializing in supplements.

When choosing one, review the Supplement Facts label. It'll tell you about any fillers, binders, or flavorings. It also says how much of the active ingredient it contains.

Look for a seal of approval from a third-party quality-testing organization. A major one is ConsumerLab. This ensures the product contains the listed ingredients and no harmful contaminants. A seal of approval doesn't guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness.

Summary

Benfotiamine can treat thiamine deficiency. It may help with diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer's disease. More research is needed, though.

Side effects are possible, but they've been rare in studies. Official dosages aren't established. Check with your healthcare provider before taking benfotiamine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much benfotiamine should I take for diabetes?

    Healthcare providers may suggest between 150 mg and 300 mg of benfotiamine twice a day. It may decrease pain from diabetic neuropathy. More research is needed to be sure it's safe and effective.

  • What are the benefits of benfotiamine?

    Benfotiamine supplements help increase thiamine (vitamin B1) levels. Thiamine is key to a healthy nervous system. Some research suggests it helps with diabetes-related nerve damage and the cognitive declines of Alzheimer's.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is diabetic neuropathy?

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  7. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. What are the signs of Alzheimer's disease?

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Additional Reading

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.