Benfotiamine is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin B1 - thiamin. This fat-soluble alternative is more bioavailable and physiologically active than thiamin. Benfotiamine may help support and maintain healthy glucose levels and help support and maintain healthy nerve tissue.
A characteristic of Benfotiamine is an open thiazole ring within the chemical structure of these thiamine-related compounds, making them fat (lipid) soluble. In contrast, thiamine, which is water soluble, has a closed thiazole ring. The fat solubility of benfotiamine, conferred by this open ring, increases its bioavailability.
Benfotiamine is readily absorbed at higher doses, in contrast to absorption of water-soluble thiamin salts, which decreases at higher doses, due to saturation of absorption sites in the intestines. Benfotiamine readily passes through intestinal mucosal cells, where it is converted into physiologically active thiamine.
What does Thiamin Do?
Vitamin B1 is needed to process carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Every cell of the body requires vitamin B1 to form the fuel the body runs on - adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Nerve cells require vitamin B1 in order to function normally.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) plays an essential part in the metabolism of glucose, through actions of its co-enzyme TPP (thiamine pyrophosphate). TPP also goes by the name "thiamine diphosphate." In a cell, glucose, is metabolised to pyruvic acid, which is converted into acetyl-CoA, otherwise known as "active acetate."
Acetyl CoA enters the mitochondrion, where it serves as the starting substrate in the Kreb’s cycle (citric acid cycle). The Krebs cycle is the primary source of cellular metabolic energy. TPP, along with other co-enzymes, is essential for the removal of CO2 from pyruvic acid, which in turn is a key step in the conversion of pyruvic acid to acetyl CoA.
CO2 removal from pyruvic acid is called "oxidative decarboxylation," and for this reason, TPP was originally referred to as "cocarboxylase." TPP is vital to the cell’s energy supply.
Benfotiamine Helps Maintain Healthy Cells
As long as glucose remains at normal levels, excess glucose metabolites do not accumulate within the cell. The bulk of the cell’s glucose supply is converted to pyruvic acid, which serves as substrate for production of acetyl CoA, the primary fuel for the Krebs cycle.