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Korsakoff's Syndrome - Why Alcoholism Can Lead To Korsakoff's

thiamine reactions brain intake

One of the main reasons that alcoholism leads to thiamine deficiency occurs because of the high-calorie nature of alcohol. A person with a large alcohol intake often, in essence, substitutes alcohol for other, more nutritive calorie sources. Food intake drops off considerably, and multiple vitamin deficiencies develop. Furthermore, it is believed that alcohol increases the body's requirements for B vitamins, at the same time interfering with the absorption of thiamine from the intestine, and impairing the body's ability to store and use thiamine.

Thiamine is involved in a variety of reactions which provide energy to the neurons (nerve cells) of the brain. When thiamine is unavailable, these reactions cannot be carried out, and the important end products of the reactions are not produced. Furthermore, certain other substances begin to accumulate, and are thought to cause damage to the vulnerable neurons. The area of the brain believed to be responsible for the symptoms of Korsakoff's syndrome is called the diencephalon, specifically, structures called the mammillary bodies and the thalamus.


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