Is Curing Diabetes as Easy as Taking Enough of This Vitamin?

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

June 1, 2020



If you have diabetes, your doctor is probably going to give you one of the many drugs for diabetics.

These can include alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides (such as metformin), dopamine agonist, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, and many more.

But what if you didn’t need any of these drugs? Instead, what if all you needed was a simple vitamin?

Well, not only is it possible, a new study says a deficiency in this vitamin could be the lynchpin to solving diabetes. But your doctor will likely miss this deficiency on the lab tests.

Most doctors today know how vital vitamins are for your health. They will even look for deficiencies on your lab tests. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t know how to find a vitamin deficiency.

If the lab test says your vitamin levels are normal, doctors will usually take that as truth and move on. Unfortunately, lab tests are notorious for missing vitamin deficiencies in given individuals. It’s very common for vitamin B12 and for thyroid hormone deficiencies to go undetected.

And now researchers in the UK have added another nutrient deficiency to the list that standard blood testing often misses. And this one is critical for diabetics.

Why Diabetics Need This B Vitamin

Researchers at the Department of Biological Sciences in the University of Essex, in Great Britain already knew how important vitamin B1 (thiamine) is for people with diabetes.

Without the combination of thiamine and lipoic acid, our cells wouldn’t be able to metabolize sugar (glucose) at all. Healthy sugar metabolism is 100% dependent on having enough thiamine around. So it’s important for all diabetic patients to make sure they are not deficient of this vitamin.

The test that doctors typically use to determine if their patients have enough thiamine is the red blood cell transketolase activation assay. So these researchers asked the simple question, “Does this test accurately diagnose vitamin B1 deficiency in patients with diabetes?”

The answer is going to surprise those doctors who continue to rigidly hang on to what they taught us in med school.

The researchers looked at 26 type-1 diabetics, 48 type-2 diabetics, and 20 healthy, non-diabetic controls. Then they looked at the levels of vitamin B1 in the blood and red blood cells. They also looked at the standard blood test, the red blood cell transketolase activation assay.

What they found was that for all these years now, doctors have been looking at the wrong test!

The Test Your Doctor Needs to Consider

The red blood cell transketolase activation assay, the “accurate test,” gave the exact same result in every single diabetic patient as it did in the non-diabetic controls. There was no difference at all.

But when the researchers looked at the blood levels of thiamine, they found something quite different. The plasma concentration of thiamine in the non-diabetic people was between 52-76 nmol/l. Whereas the levels of thiamine in the diabetics was between 5-25 nmol/l. That’s a full 75% lower.

In a moment I’ll tell you why this is so important. But first, why were the levels so much lower? And why was the standard test so useless?

The reason was not because diabetics have lower amounts of thiamine in their diet. All of these patients, the diabetics and the controls, were eating more than the RDA levels.

It turned out to be because of a peculiar problem in the kidneys of diabetics, even ones who control their blood sugars well, that causes them to lose large amounts of thiamine in their urine.

In fact, the average loss of thiamine in the urine of the diabetic patients was 24 times greater than in the non-diabetic men and women.

So the problem with diabetics is not that they don’t get normal amounts of vitamin B1 in their diet. The problem is that for them, normal amounts of B1 are wholly inadequate because they keep dumping it out in their urine. So much for the ridiculous concept of RDAs.

Why All of This Is So Important

When the researchers looked at how the levels of B1 could be normal in the red blood cells of diabetic patients when their blood levels were so low, they made a very significant discovery.

Since thiamine is so absolutely critical for red blood cell metabolism, the biochemical system that transports thiamine into the red blood cells is exaggerated, or what doctors call up-regulated. This allows the red blood cells to maintain normal levels of B1 even when the bloodstream is deficient.

But if all the other cells in a diabetic can do the same thing as the red blood cells, then why does it make a difference?

The problem is that the ability of the other cells to up-regulate the transport of thiamine is blocked when blood sugar levels go up. And this blocking effect is very significant in the kidneys, where it blocks the uptake of thiamine by 60%.

The same thing also happens in the blood vessel cells (endothelial cells), nerve cells, and retinal cells — just the very areas that are so commonly damaged in diabetes.

How to Cure Yourself

So, if you have diabetes, please learn from this important study. Ask your doctor to check your plasma thiamine levels. If they’re low, make sure that you’re taking enough thiamine to bring them up to 52 nmol/l.

Also, make sure that your A1c levels are below 6%. There is good reason to believe that if you do both of these things, you will never have any of the complications that are so common with diabetes. In essence, you will have cured yourself.



Thornalley, P.J., R. Babaei-Jadidi, H. Al Ali, N. Rabbani, A. Antonysunil, J. Larkin, A. Ahmed, G. Rayman, and C.W. Bodmer. “High prevalence of low plasma thiamine concentration in diabetes linked to

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