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The Link Between Thiamine Supplementation and Treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in Patients with Alcoholism

Sum, Simon Siu-Man MS, MPhil, RD, ACSM-cPT; Brody, Rebecca PhD, RD, LD, CNSC

doi: 10.1097/TIN.0b013e31826f915e
Clinical Questions and Reviews

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a disorder of the brain caused by deficiency of thiamine that is common in patients with alcoholism. Thiamine supplementation is a usual treatment in the management of WKS but no standard recommendations have been established. This article discusses the link between supplementation of thiamine and the treatment of WKS in patients with alcoholism, whether thiamine supplementation can improve symptoms of WKS and the current recommendations for thiamine supplementation in managing WKS. Evidence-based research is needed to determine the best thiamine supplementation regimen for patient with WKS.

Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Alhambra Hospital Medical Center, Alhambra, California (Mr Sum); and Department of Nutritional Sciences, Graduate Programs in Clinical Nutrition, School of Health Related Professions, University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (UMDNJ), Newark, New Jersey (Mr Sum and Dr Brody).

Correspondence: Simon Siu-Man Sum, MS, MPhil, RD, ACSM-cPT, University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, Newark, NJ (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.