The deficiency of vitamin B1 (Thiamine) in food causes a disease known as beriberi. Thus, beriberi is a deficiency disease caused by the lack of vitamin B1 in the diet.
Symptoms of Beriberi – There are several symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency or beriberi in human beings which are as given below –
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme weakness
- Oedema (swelling) of the legs
- Heart failure
- Paralysis of legs, and arms
- Harmful for the digestive system
- Mental disturbances or nervous disorders
Beriberi is also linked with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome during extreme cases. Korsakoff syndrome and Wernicke-Korsakoff are two forms of brain damage and caused due to a lack of vitamin B1.
Beriberi disease occurs in those areas where polished rice is the major food item due to polished rice is deficient in vitamin B1. Polished rice is that rice grain in which its brown outer coating has been removed. This thin outer coating on rice grain contains vitamin B1. Thus, when rice is polished in mills then its outer coating gets removed and hence the vitamin B1 content of rice also gets lost. So, the modern methods of refining foods such as rice have robbed us of vitamin B1.
Types of Beriberi – Beriberi disease is divided into two types
- Wet Beriberi – This type of beriberi affects the circulatory and heart systems. It can also cause heart failure in extreme cases.
- Dry Beriberi – This type of beriberi damages the nerves and can lead to reducing the strength of the muscle that eventually muscle paralysis.
Symptoms of Wet Beriberi – There are some of the symptoms of wet beriberi are as given below –
- During any physical activity, difficulty in breathing
- Swollen lower legs
- Rapid heart rate
Symptoms of Dry Beriberi – There are some of the symptoms of wet beriberi are as given below –
- Reduce muscle function especially in lower legs
- Mental disorder
- Problem in speaking
Sources of Vitamin B1 – Ground-nut and raw rice (unpolished rice) is a very good source of vitamin B1 that lowers the risk of beriberi disease in human beings.
There are other important sources of vitamin B1 are beans, pulses, sea-food, milk, egg, whole grain cereals, and many more.