Benfotiamine: The #1 B Vitamin for Your Brain

November 1, 2019
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Why benfotiamine is the top brain nutrient nobody’s talking about.

If you’re looking for better brain health, balanced blood sugar, and a memory boost then look no further than benfotiamine!

It seems like memory loss has become an issue at any age these days and there are a lot of reasons given for it– overworked, overtired, stressed, “pregnancy brain,” menopause, “senior moment,” and so on. But one reason is being overlooked, and it may be the answer to keeping that memory loss from turning into a full-blown diagnosis of dementia or even Alzheimer’s down the road – vitamin B1 deficiency.

Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) symptoms include memory loss, confusion, irritability, fatigue, appetite loss, muscle weakness, tingling in your arms and/or legs, blurred vision, changes in heart rate, and shortness of breath.

The people most susceptible to thiamine deficiency are those who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery, diabetics, older adults, and people with excessive alcohol intake. And the most absorbable form of vitamin B1 that you can supplement with is called Benfotiamine. This highly bioavailable oil-soluble form crosses the blood-brain barrier, unlike Thiamine Hydrochloride, the standard supplement form.

Vitamin B1 is used by every cell in your body. It’s essential for breaking down carbohydrates to use them as energy, delivering oxygen to all of your tissues, and is a key player in the function of your nerves and muscles. But most importantly to your brain, it is crucial for glucose metabolism.

B1, Blood Sugar, and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise, and your risk doubles every 5 years after the age of 65. There have been no new medications approved for use in this disease since 2003, and the few we have seem to be barking up the wrong tree, and as a result, aren’t reversing or stopping this devastating disease. The current drugs aim to eliminate the beta amyloid plaque that accumulates on the brains of people who develop Alzheimer’s disease. The problem is that eliminating the plaque isn’t doing anything for the memory loss, so they must be missing the root cause.

As researchers learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, one thing has become crystal clear just in the last year – when the hippocampus of the brain has low blood sugar levels, it also has low thiamine levels, and beta amyloid brain plaque starts to accumulate. When this happens, what starts as memory loss leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as it’s allowed to progress. For this reason, researchers have started calling Alzheimer’s disease Type 3 diabetes.

Just like your body can become insulin resistant, your brain can as well. The standard American diet has trained our bodies to burn sugars and carbs as our primary fuel. When you eat a meal or snack that’s high in sugars or refined carbs, your blood sugar spikes up quickly. This stimulates the release of insulin, which is good, because it escorts that sugar out of the blood stream and into the cells where it can be burned for fuel.

Over time, as you continue to eat high carbs meals and sugary snacks, your insulin level stays high to compensate for the rush of sugar that comes every few hours. This causes hypoglycemia, or sugar lows, when you are between meals, because that high level of insulin is causing the sugar to be shuttled to the cells more quickly, crashing your sugars and energy level all at once. As a protective mechanism, this low blood sugar causes you to crave sugar, so your blood glucose (sugar) levels don’t go dangerously low.

This cycle of highs and lows in your blood glucose is like a rollercoaster – and it’s one ride you need to get off. If it continues, it leads to insulin resistance. And when your brain becomes insulin resistant, your brain cells are deprived of their much-needed fuel, because insulin is what escorts the sugar into the cells to recharge your energy and power up your brain and memory.

Your brain needs to respond to insulin to be able to complete basic tasks like memory and learning. Type 3 diabetes causes the neurons in your brain to become deficient in insulin because they can’t use it. This results in low blood sugar in your brain cells, and where we see low blood sugar in the brain we also see low thiamine levels – and researchers don’t know which comes first.

Your pancreas is a rich storage site for thiamine – and for good reason. Thiamine not only lowers the high blood sugars that lead to insulin resistance in the brain, but also raises the low blood sugars inside your brain cells that lead to memory loss. I believe the key to better brain health and balanced blood sugar comes in being proactive and supplementing with benfotiamine before serious memory problems have time to take hold.

Better Brain Health with Balanced Blood Sugar

Ever had a high carb breakfast only to be starving again mid-morning? That’s the blood sugar and insulin roller coaster. The first step to getting off this dangerous ride and staving off Type 3 diabetes is found in protein, healthy fats and fiber. Each of these slows gastric emptying, which slows the speed of sugar in the diet turning into glucose in the blood. If you start your day with something high in sugar and refined carbs like donuts, you set yourself up for a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by a sharp drop, which brings on a craving for more sugar to fix the problem.

Instead, start your day with a healthy meal involving protein, healthy fats and fiber, and you get a slow, steady release of sugar over time instead of a spike, so the highs and lows never come. Your insulin levels will gradually come back down to normal and your cells will once again have a balanced, healthy blood sugar level, as well as improving your energy. Protein and fat keep you feeling full and more satisfied for a longer period of time, and burning fat for energy retrains your body to have a steadier energy level, allowing you to go up to six hours between meals.

This is because 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, and 1 gram of carbs or protein equals 4 calories. So, when you burn fat as your primary source of fuel, you can eat less (saving you money!) and have a more consistent energy level. In addition, your body stores about 2000 calories in muscle and the liver, but can store somewhere between 100,000 to 120,000 calories in your body fat. So when you burn fat as your primary fuel instead of carbs, you have much more to draw from before you need to refuel.

There are added brain benefits to burning fats as your primary fuel. Ketones are produced when your body breaks down fat for energy. Your brain loves ketones, and increasing their levels can help with brain fog, memory issues, focus, and other cognition, as well as coordination. Because fat burns cleaner than sugar and carbs do for energy, there is also less oxidative stress on the body. This helps to decrease cellular inflammation and other signs of premature aging. Ketosis also helps your cells become more sensitive to hormones, bringing them into balance much more easily and reducing the need for hormone replacement.

Old habits are hard to break, and your body will crave sugar as it’s adjusting to its new fuel source. Several small meals and snacks throughout the day that are balanced with healthy fats and proteins will quell these cravings quickly. I know how hard it is to change eating habits when they are so deeply ingrained, but it is well worth the effort, as it will pay you dividends over time in your brain health, weight loss, and overall wellbeing.

Need some inspiration or more guided direction with your diet? Ease your transition with my 2 week Quick Start program followed by my Radical Metabolism plan. Join thousands of us in my Radical Metabolism Revolution Facebook group for support and encouragement, and watch the transformation to fat-burning and brain blood sugar balance happen in as little as 6 weeks!

Boost Your Brain Power with Benfotiamine

A healthy brain needs nourished cells to function at its best. By the time you have fatigue, memory loss, or irritability, you could already be substantially low in thiamine, as well as other brain nutrients. I recommend supplementing with 100 milligrams of benfotiamine, and plan on it for the long haul, not just for a few short months. It’s going to take time to change what caused you to run short of this essential vitamin, and you need to keep your stores up for your body to replenish and restore itself.

In addition to benfotiamine, I recommend using a synergistic blend of brain-boosting nutrients to give your brain exactly what it needs to be its best. With 12 of the most well-researched and effective brain health nutrients, UNI KEY Health’s new Ultra H-3 Plus is the best supplement I’ve found to give your brain everything it needs to get back on the right track.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Eleanor K.

    I have started taking the Ultra H-3 Plus recently. I can tell a difference in my memory. Good to know I’m getting all the benefits of vitamin B1

  2. Missy L.

    Thanks for the interesting information about how sugar is involved in brain chemistry. This makes a lot of sense.


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