Beriberi is a deficiency disease which is caused due to lack of vitamin B1 or thiamine in the diet. Thiamine acts as a coenzyme in carbohydrate metabolism and is essential for the synthesis of acetylcholine (a substance involved in transmission of nerve impulses). Since thiamine promotes the carbohydrate metabolism, it helps in the growth of body. Beriberi is a Sinhalese word which means extreme weakness (Watch Beriberi Video to learn more).
The symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency or beriberi disease in human beings are the following :
- In beriberi patients, oedema (swelling) of legs occur due to water-logging of tissues accompanied by pain in legs.
- The patient suffering from beriberi feels extreme weakness, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite and palpitation. His heart becomes weak and enlarged, which can even lead to heart failure. Paralysis of arms, legs and respiratory muscles also occur in beriberi patients.
- Decrease in weight, retarded growth, degeneration of nerves and shortness of breath are some other symptoms of beriberi. Vitamin B1 ultimately leads to mental disturbances or nervous disorders.
Beriberi disease occurs in those areas where polished rice is the major food items (i.e., beriberi is a endemic disease of estern and southern Asia). This is because polished rice is deficient in vitamin B1. Polished rice is that rice grain from which its thiamine-rich brown outer coat has been removed. This, when rice is polished or dehusked in mills, then its brown coat gets removed and along with this brown coat of rice vitamin B1 content of rice also gets lost. Beriberi disease was first of all observed among the Japanese sailors who mostly ate polished rice. Whole wheat bread, ‘Dalia’ and groundnut are very good source of vitamin B1 or thiamine. Other rich sources of thiamine include unpolished rice, whole grain cereals, beans, soybean, pulses, fruits, green vegetables, sea foods, egg, milk, liver and kidney.
Useful for CBSE, ICSE, NCERT & International Students
Grade : 9
Subject : Biology
Lesson : Why Do We Fall Ill?
Topic: Beriberi Video
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