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March 19, 1938


Author Affiliations

Colonel, Medical Corps, U. S. Army, Retired WASHINGTON, D. C.

From the Department of Experimental Medicine, George Washington University Medical School.

JAMA. 1938;110(12):893-896. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.62790120007009

Beriberi is a disease resulting from faulty metabolism and is directly caused by deficiency of the antineuritic vitamin B1 and possibly other deficiencies in the diet. Among Orientals, this deficiency is usually produced by the too exclusive use of decorticated or polished rice; but it may equally be caused by the too exclusive use of white wheat flour and other carbohydrate staples. Clinically, beriberi is characterized by degenerative changes in the nervous system including a multiple peripheral neuritis, which may exist alone but is often combined with generalized edema and serous effusions, and by a tendency to the development of cardiac hypertrophy, which frequently results in cardiac failure and sudden death. In this definition vitamin B1, as distinguished from other fractions of the vitamin B complex, is the compound isolated and synthesized by R. R. Williams, a compound of pyrimidine and thiazole which has been designated by Williams