Life Extension Magazine®
Group of scientist researching effects of benfotiamine on glycation

Benfotiamine Reduces Accelerated Aging

Diabetics suffer accelerated aging because high blood sugar binds to the body’s pro­teins to cause harmful glycation. This happens in non-diabetics at a slower pace. Benfotiamine offers anti-glycation protection.

Scientifically reviewed by: Gary Gonzalez, MD, on March 2021. Written By Beverly Stamos.

We know that too much sugar is bad for you. It causes diabetes, weight gain, and rots your teeth.

Sugar cubes in spoon that can elevate blood sugar

But the invisible harm that sugar causes goes beyond that.

A process known as glycation occurs when glucose in your bloodstream binds to proteins, fats, and nucleic acids in cells and tissues.

This causes the formation of advanced glycation end-products or AGEs.

Excessive glycation accelerates aging processes and contributes to many forms of chronic disease, from arterial blockage to dementia.1-4

A specialized form of vitamin B1 called benfotiamine offers anti-glycation activity that may slow certain aging processes and maintain youthful tissue function.

The Danger of Glycation

Silhouette of man running with points glucose can harm

Glucose is the main sugar that circulates in the blood. Cells break it down and use it as an energy source.

But glucose has a dark side.

It can combine with other compounds like proteins and fats, and even nucleic acids.* This process is known as glycation.

The result is toxic compounds being formed called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).3

AGEs damage cellular structures, particularly the body’s proteins, and alter their function. The buildup of damaged proteins wreaks havoc on tissues throughout the body.

For example, blood vessels normally dilate or constrict to control blood flow. But with damaged proteins in their walls, blood vessels become stiff and unresponsive, hastening the onset of cardiovascular disease.3

AGEs also bind to cell receptors that activate chronic inflammation.3 This inflammation is a major cause of accelerated aging and age-related disease.5

The higher glucose levels are, the more glycation occurs.

This is an important reason why diabetes is so dangerous. When glucose levels are chronically high, more toxic glycation end-products are created.

But glycation occurs in all aging adults, not just diabetics, affecting every tissue in the body.

Glycation contributes to:

  • Dementia,
  • Heart and blood vessel disease,
  • Kidney failure,
  • Macular degeneration and vision loss,
  • Nerve dysfunction,
  • Osteoarthritis,
  • Cancer,
  • Aging, wrinkled skin,
  • And more.2-4,6-14

In elderly subjects, higher levels of AGEs detected on blood tests are associated with poor physical function.15,16

Glycation slowly destroys the body from the inside out.

High Glucose Harms the Brain

The brain is constantly taking up glucose from the blood to use for energy.

The link between glucose metabolism and brain disease is so strong that many doctors and researchers have taken to calling Alzheimer’s diseasetype III diabetes.”17,18

There are a variety of ways that excess glucose harms brain function.19-22

In the short term, hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) has a significant impact on mood and cognitive performance.

In patients with type II diabetes, one study found that information processing, memory, and attention were all impaired when blood glucose levels were high.23

These individuals also tended to have a more depressed and anxious mood and reduced energy and arousal.23

In the long term, glycation contributes to chronic loss of brain function and, eventually, dementia.19-22

Research shows that people with diabetes have, on average, double the risk of developing dementia than non-diabetic individuals.24

Among diabetics, those with poor blood glucose control have a 40% greater risk of dementia than those with better glucose control.25 Even patients with prediabetes were found to be 18% more likely to develop dementia than people with normal glucose levels.

How Benfotiamine Helps

There are ways to prevent glycation damage.

Cutting back on sugar can help. But even if you cut out all simple sugars in the diet, the liver will produce a minimum level of blood glucose to ensure your survival via a process known as gluconeogenesis.

Glycation still occurs, though at a slower rate.

But there is more you can do.

Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is a nutrient required for various processes in the body. However, thiamine is not easily absorbed into the body. Researchers have found that a special form of thiamine can help prevent glycation.26,27

Benfotiamine is a fat-soluble form of thiamine that is significantly more bioavailable (absorbable).26,27

Taken orally, benfotiamine is rapidly absorbed and reaches much higher levels in the blood and in cells. Research shows that a single dose of benfotiamine leads to a five-times greater level in the blood than an equivalent dose of thiamine.26,27

What you need to know

Fighting Damage Done by Glycation

Man taking blood glucose test
  • Blood sugar, or glucose, is an important fuel for cells. But it can combine with other compounds in a process known as glycation. This damages cellular structures and compromises their function.
  • Glycation and the buildup of advanced glycation end-products in bodily tissues is a major contributor to aging and age-related chronic disease.
  • Scientists have identified a form of vitamin B1, benfotiamine, which is highly bioavailable and able to protect against glycation in multiple ways.
  • In clinical studies, oral benfotiamine intake has already shown clear benefits for diabetic neurological complications, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Preliminary research shows that it has promise in slowing aging and lowering risk for other forms of chronic disease.
  • Life Extension® suggests taking 250-1,000 mg of benfotiamine daily to protect the body’s tissues against glycation.

Benfotiamine blocks several tissue-damaging mechanisms, one of them being the advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) formation pathway.26,27 It is also able to limit effects of AGEs by reducing inflammation and harmful AGE-triggered changes.27

Through these actions, benfotiamine provides powerful protection against the aging process and development of disease.

Combating Sugar-Related Disease

Benfotiamine has been explored for the treatment or prevention of age- and diabetes-related disorders.

Given the excessive glycation that occurs with high blood glucose levels in diabetic patients, and benfotiamine’s ability to combat this damage, it is no surprise that it has been studied as a treatment for complications of diabetes.28-31

For example, benfotiamine has been shown to help treat and manage neuropathy, a painful nerve disease common in diabetics.29,30,32-34

It has also shown benefits for management of cognitive decline in non-diabetic subjects, ranging from mild cognitive impairment to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

In one randomized controlled trial published in 2020, scientists from Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine treated patients with cognitive deficits ranging from mild cognitive impairment to mild Alzheimer’s dementia with either 300 mg of benfotiamine twice daily for one year, or placebo.35

Glycation in Food

Veggies on the grill with higher glycation levels

Glycation doesn’t just happen in your body. It can also take place in your food.

That means when you eat, you may take in significant amounts of toxic advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).

Foods that contain high levels of glycated compounds include red meats, sugary and processed foods, and those cooked with high heat. Deep-fried, pan-fried, and roasted foods are among the worst culprits.

Studies estimate that about 10%-30% of ingested AGEs are absorbed into the body, where they can do serious damage.14

In one study, subjects with type II diabetes were given a meal with a high AGE content.38 Within hours, blood levels of AGEs increased.

This caused immediate damage to tissues. Researchers observed a jump in serum markers of endothelial dysfunction and oxidative stress. This worsens blood vessel disease and increases the risk for future heart attack and stroke.

Benfotiamine can prevent dietary sources of AGEs from doing damage. In the study, some of the patients given the meal high in AGEs were also given benfotiamine.38 In those people, the peak blood AGE level was significantly reduced and the negative changes in blood vessel function were completely prevented.

Over the year, decline in cognitive function (measured by the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale) was 77% less in the group receiving benfotiamine. This means that it slowed the clinical progression of the condition.

Benfotiamine also prevented AGEs from increasing. This means it interrupted toxic glycation reactions, suggesting it slowed an important contributor to biochemical aging.35

In an earlier pilot trial in five patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, 300 mg of benfotiamine daily for 18 months led to a cognitive improvement, not just a slowing of deterioration. The average increase on the Mini-Mental State Exam, the most common tool for assessing the severity of dementia, averaged 3.2 points.36

Considering that a change as low as 1 point on this exam is considered “meaningful,” this 3.2 point improvement is remarkable.37

Benfotiamine’s ability to prevent glycation, along with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, has great promise in slowing the aging process and reducing risk for many other diseases as well.27

Life Extension® suggests taking 250-1,000 mg of benfotiamine daily to protect the body’s tissues against glycation. Those with worsening glycemic control should consider the higher dose range.

Summary

Researcher examining possible damage from glycation

Blood glucose, both in diabetics and non-diabetics, can combine with other compounds in a process known as glycation.

This results in toxic end-products that cause significant damage to cells and tissues.

Glycation has been shown to be a major driver of aging, chronic disease, and complications of diabetes.

Scientists have found that a highly bioavailable form of vitamin B1 called benfotiamine effectively reduces buildup of glycated compounds in the body.

Benfotiamine intake has shown benefits in treating diabetic neuropathy, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease in human trials.

Research also suggests that benfotiamine may be beneficial in slowing the aging process and lowering risk for many other age-related chronic diseases.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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