Home > Science > The sicko experiment: part 2

The sicko experiment: part 2

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Haven’t gotten sick yet, though the sore throat hasn’t gone away.


It seems that the recommended level of thiamine can be obtained from a normal diet, whatever that means. I don’t think I’m in any trouble of having of deficiency if I don’t take the vitamins. Then again, a deficiency could lead to beriberi disease. I read a book last summer called Ship of Ghosts about a shipful of PoWs in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. It was the same group of PoWs who built the infamous bridge on the River Kwai. Their food supply was so inadequate that a lot of them were malnourished and developed beriberi. From what I remember, there were two kinds of beriberi, the wet kind and the dry kind. Dry beriberi affected the nervous system and could usually be treated by a resourceful doctor. Wet beriberi affected the circulatory system and there was usually only one thing to be done, go through his clothes and look for loose change. It’s not that beriberi is really that deadly, it’s just that if you get it, you’re usually on our way out anway. Beriberi just puts you through the express lane.

Thiamine and its derivatives are found in all cells in the body so getting enough of it is very important. Thiamine phosphate is also required in the first step of alcohol fermentation so I consider it very, very important.


Like thiamine, riboflavin is found in many cellular processes, but is mostly used in the metabolism of ketones, fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Since riboflavin is necessary in order to metabolize these things, a deficiency of riboflavin causes a cascade effect and leads to further illnesses. The symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include cracked lips (it’s pretty dry in here, I’ve been going through chapstick like a mutha’) dry, itchy, bloodshot eyes (I have these all the time, but it’s ususally due to allergies) and a sore throat (aha!). I think we have a winner. Further symptoms include scaly skin (not so much) photophobia (nope) and scrotal dermititus (WHAAAAA?). Okay, maybe I’m not suffering from riboflavin deficiency.


Niacin is the last of the five ingredients that make up pandemic deficiency disease. The other four are vitamin C, vitamin A, Thyamine and vitamin D. It’s important for cell metabolism and is used in DNA repair. Not getting enough niacin causes a disease called pellagra. Pellagra causes diarrhea, skin leasions, sensitivity to light, weakness, insomnia and eventually dementia and death. Oddly, high doses of niacin can cause nacin maculopathy, a thickening of the macula and the retina which can cause blindness. It’s easily fixed by lowering your niacin intake. This kind shoots down my theory that if some vitamins are good for me, a lot of vitamins must be really, really good for me.

Categories: Science
  1. Amber
    January 22, 2010 at 12:48 am

    The story of the conquering of beriberi is quite interesting, though I’m sure you already know it:


    • DJ
      January 22, 2010 at 6:31 am

      I had always imagined conquering beriberi would require the help of Count Chocula, or at the very least, Cap’n Crunch.

  2. January 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I hope the vitamins help you. I find I don’t get sick as often now that I take one everyday.

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