Life Extension Magazine®

Man having blood sugar being tested for excess blood sugar that leads to glycation

Protect Your Cells from Sugar Damage

Excess blood sugar can lead to glycation which accelerates body-wide aging. Benfotiamine helps protect against glycation.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC, in April 2023. Written by: Edward R. Rosick, DO, MPH, DABIHM.

When glucose binds to proteins, fats, or nucleic acids in our body, toxic compounds are formed.1

These cellular poisons are called advanced glycation end products or AGEs. 2,3

Diabetics suffer accelerated glycation, but destructive glycation processes happen in people with normal blood glucose levels as well.3

Glycation is linked to faster aging,1 cardiovascular disorders, 2,4-6 diabetic complications,3,6-8 and other chronic conditions.2,6,9-11

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce damage inflicted by advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Hidden Side Effect of Glucose

Maintaining sufficient blood glucose is essential to life.

But glucose itself has a deadly side effect.

With age, even normal glucose levels bind to the body’ s proteins and fats to accumulate non-functional structures called advanced glycation end products.

Those with higher glycation levels suffer more damage to cells and blood vessels.5,8,14-16 This pertains to diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.

Glycation end products are partly responsible for many diabetic complications,16,17 including kidney6,16 and nerve damage,16,18 blindness, 16,19 and heart disease.16,20

Rates of diabetes have more than doubled in the last 20 years.21 Almost 100 million Americans have pre-diabetes, meaning blood sugar levels between 100 mg/ml and 125 mg/ml. 22,23

Controlling blood sugar is essential to reduce diabetic morbidities. Guarding against excess glycation is equally important.

Human studies have demonstrated a relationship between advanced glycation products contributing to muscle weakness in older healthy individuals. 24

A recent review of studies has shown that glycation products reduce skin elasticity, produce wrinkles, accumulate pigments, and destroy the skin barrier by stimulating inflammation.13

Cardiovascular Damage

Those with the highest glycation levels have been shown to be at greater risk of suffering nonfatal and fatal cardiovascular diseases.20,25,26

A report in the journal Molecular Basis of Disease27 detailed the ways in which glycation contributes to heart disease, including:

  • Decreased blood vessel flexibility,
  • Increased heart muscle stiffness,
  • Decreased production of nitric oxide, a vital biochemical needed for optimal blood vessel dilation, and
  • Increased oxidative stress and inflammation.

Research from Japan confirmed that high glycation levels are associated with the progression of dangerous cardiac plaque in patients with and without diabetes.28

Another study of patients with acute coronary syndrome (a range of conditions marked by reduced blood flow to the heart) showed high levels of advanced glycation end products as a predictor of death and further heart disease.29

How Benfotiamine Helps

Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) is essential for energy production and brain health. Deficiencies of thiamine can lead to serious problems, including cardiovascular, immune system, and visual impairments, neurological disorders, and neuropathy.30

Benfotiamine is a fat-soluble form of thiamine with increased absorbability and bioavailability. 31-34

It has been shown in studies to protect against diabetic complications and vascular damage by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent and by combating the damaging effects of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).17,35-44

In one study, diabetic patients with polyneuropathy (painful damage to nerves throughout the body) who took 400 mg daily of benfotiamine had significantly fewer complaints of pain.40 A study in rats showed that benfotiamine prevented diabetes-induced damage in the animals’ eyes, hearts, and kidneys.45

A randomized controlled trial published in 2020 examined the effects of benfotiamine in patients with diabetic sensorimotor polyneuropathy, nerve damage that causes difficulty moving and feeling sensation.41 In an earlier randomized controlled trial, patients taking 600 mg of benfotiamine a day for six weeks, had improved neuropathy symptoms as compared to patients receiving 300 mg or placebo.46

And, 300 mg of thiamine supplementation improved renal function in diabetic patients over a three-month period.47

Protecting the Heart and Blood Vessels

One of the hallmarks of both diabetes and heart disease is damage to blood vessels brought about by oxidative stress, inflammation, and glycation.

Benfotiamine can help prevent these types of damage.

In a pilot study, 13 adults with type II diabetes were given a meal that had high amounts of advanced glycation end products in it. Taking 1,050 mg of benfotiamine daily for three days before the meal decreased markers of oxidative stress and damaging changes to large and small blood vessels.35

In another human study, taking 1,050 mg of benfotiamine daily improved blood flow in volunteer smokers. Short-term treatment with benfotiamine was shown to reduce effects of smoking as a result of its protective vascular qualities.44 Benfotiamine does not make smoking safer, but this study indicates protective effects for anyone exposed to inhaled environmental toxins.

Studies also show that benfotiamine can effectively combat oxidative stress and vascular dysfunction, drivers of heart disease. In an animal study, benfotiamine use acted as an effective antioxidant for the heart.42

A significant body of evidence demonstrates that benfotiamine interferes with glycation pathways.48 It was used in Europe as a neuropathy medication long before Americans gained access to it as a low-cost supplement.

What you need to know

Stop Damage Done by Glycation

  • When sugar binds to proteins and other compounds in the body in a process called glycation, toxic compounds are formed called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
  • AGEs are linked to diabetic complications, accelerated aging, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
  • AGEs are also detrimental to nondiabetics causing skin aging, loss of muscle strength and chronic inflammation.
  • Benfotiamine is a bioavailable form of vitamin B1. It has been shown to prevent the damaging effects of AGEs. Benfotiamine also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress associated with diabetes and heart disease.
  • Human studies show that benfotiamine is effective in decreasing debilitating symptoms of type II diabetes including nerve damage and can help protect the heart and blood vessels against damage from AGEs.

Life Extension suggests supplementing with benfotiamine in daily doses of 250-1,000 mg to help reduce glycation damage. Those with higher blood sugar levels or unhealthy dietary practices should consider the higher benfotiamine dose range.

Meals that contain damaging glycation products include foods cooked at high temperature such as frying, grilling, broiling, and roasting. Safer ways of food preparation to reduce ingestion of advanced glycation end products include boiling, stewing, steaming, and poaching.


Advanced glycation end products or AGEs are harmful compounds formed when blood sugar interacts with proteins and other compounds in the body. They contribute to diabetic complications, heart disease, and accelerated aging.

Benfotiamine is a safe, fat-soluble form of vitamin B1 that can help reduce the production of AGEs.

Multiple studies have shown that benfotiamine can help protect against oxidative stress, vascular dysfunction, and other hallmarks of conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Optimal Blood Sugar Levels

Life Extension considers these to be the ideal glycemic marker blood levels:

  • Fasting Glucose: 80-86 mg/dL
  • HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C): 5.0%-5.4%
  • Fasting insulin <5.0 uIU/mL


Thiamine Deficiency 30

  • Thiamine, vitamin B1 is essential for metabolism, energy production, and for normal nervous and cardiovascular function.
  • Deficiency can cause fatigue, poor memory, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss.
  • A diet high in processed carbohydrates and sugars can cause its deficiency. Consumption of excess alcohol is also associated with thiamine deficiency.
  • Severe thiamine deficiency may cause nerve, heart, and brain abnormalities.
  • Health disorders that warrant an increase in thiamine intake include overactive thyroid and liver disorders.
  • Benfotiamine is a fat-soluble form of thiamine with increased absorbability and bioavailability.31-34

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


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