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(bĕr`ēbĕr`ē), deficiency disease occurring when the human body has insufficient amounts of thiamine (vitaminvitamin,
group of organic substances that are required in the diet of humans and animals for normal growth, maintenance of life, and normal reproduction. Vitamins act as catalysts; very often either the vitamins themselves are coenzymes, or they form integral parts of coenzymes.
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 B1). The deficiency may result from improper diet (e.g., ingestion of highly refined grains instead of the whole kernels), from poor absorption of thiamine (as in chronic diarrhea), from conditions which increase the vitamin requirements of the body (e.g., hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, fever), or from poor utilization (as in liver disease). In some instances (e.g., alcoholism) the deficiency arises from a combination of several or of all of these factors. Since thiamine is essential for the proper metabolism of carbohydrate and fat and for the normal functioning of enzymes and nervous tissue, the symptoms of the disorder are primarily those of neurological and gastrointestinal disturbances. In severe cases the heart becomes affected, and the nervous disorder may lead to paralysis and death. The disorder is rarely found in the West, occurring only among alcoholics and other groups who exist on grossly inadequate diets. It is a common malady in parts of Asia where the diet consists mainly of polished white rice. The usual treatment is administering dosages of thiamine.



(B1 avitaminosis, alimentary polyneuritis), an illness occurring as a result of a Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency in the diet. Characterized by polyneuritis of the extremities, disturbances of the cardiovascular system, and edema resulting from the accumulation of lactic and pyruvic acids in the body. Beriberi is found mostly in the countries of East, Southeast, and South Asia, where the population eats mainly rice which is hulled (that is, stripped of its outer coating). The cause of beriberi was established in 1897 by the Dutch physician C. Eijkman, working on the island of Java. Eijkman caused beriberi in hens by feeding them cooked, hulled rice and then cured them with rice siftings. The substance in rice siftings which protects against beriberi was found to be Vitamin B1. The daily requirement of Vitamin B1 is 1.6–2.5 mg for adult males, 1.3–2.2 mg for women, and 0.5–1.7 mg for children.

When Vitamin is absent from the diet, the carbohydrate metabolism of the body is disrupted, and lactic and pyruvic acids accumulate. Nervous disturbances (polyneuritis) in cases of beriberi may end in paralysis. The gait of a person afflicted by beriberi is characteristic; at the onset of the illness, he walks on his toes and the outer edge of the foot, sparing his soles. Then, as a result of weakness in the extremities, he transfers to crutches. The heart becomes enlarged and the pulse accelerates. The appetite decreases and constipation occurs. Severe general emaciation and generalized or localized edema are observed. Treatment consists in administering Vitamin B1preparations internally and as injections. Prophylaxis consists in the introduction into the diet of foods containing a sufficient quantity of Vitamin B1. Foods that do not contain Vitamin B1 (bread and products of white flour of the highest and first grades; and sugar) should not, because of their high caloric value, constitute more than one-third of the caloric value of the diet. Massive prophylaxis consists in the inclusion in the diet of rye and wheat bread made of second-grade flour and of unhulled flour of several grains (buckwheat, oats, and barley) and the addition of Vitamin B1 to wheat flour.


Efremov, V. V. Vazhneishie avitaminozy cheloveka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
“Avitaminozy.” In Rukovodstvo po vnutrennim bolezniam, vol. 8. Moscow, 1965. Pages 521–42.
Shimazono, N., and E. Katsura, eds. Review of Japanese Literature on Beriberi and Thiamine. Tokyo, 1965.



A disorder resulting from the deficiency of vitamin B1 and characterized by neurologic symptoms, cardiovascular abnormalities, edema, and cerebral manifestations.
References in periodicals archive ?
McCollum suggested that whatever was present in the ether extract be called fat soluble "A," and that the water extract Funk had used to prevent beriberi be called water-soluble factor "B.
Tribal people suffer from nutritional deficiency diseases like endemic Goitre, Anemia, Pellagra and Beriberi.
As a result, by September three children had died from beriberi, a kind of malnutrition which is typical of Third World countries and which has not been seen in Israel for a long time.
Roedd un o'r cerddi gan Gareth Jones, ac yn rhestru'r holl anhwylderau roedd Owain, mab Wil a Meri, Bron y Waen wedi'u dal - beriberi a'r diciau cyn cael ei eni hyd yn oed
Everett (24) said that malaria and beriberi are two unresolved military medical problems contributing to the fall of Cambodia.
There he died at dawn, possibly of beriberi caused by lack of nutrition over many years.
Once in Japan, treatment of the POWs was not as harsh; however, diseases such as beriberi and scurvy were as prevalent as dysentery was in the Philippines.
But she was thrilled to discover that her great-grandfather Adolphe Vorderman narrowly missed out on the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work into the killer disease Beriberi, which led to the discovery of vitamins.
Wernicke encephalopathy (WE), or cerebral beriberi, is a manifestation of thiamine deficiency.
There are as well anemia related to poor nutrition, a variety of diseases caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies like beriberi, scurvy, osteomalacia, and rickets etc.
Only an outbreak of beriberi in the east end of Glasgow can prevent that.