A new high performance liquid chromatographic method has been used to measure erythrocyte levels of the physiologically active form of thiamin, thiamin diphosphate (ETDP), in 25 alcoholics admitted to hospital for detoxification and rehabilitation. Measurements were made before, during and after multivitamin supplementation, either orally or parenterally, on a controlled basis. Before treatment, only one case of thiamin deficiency was detected. Within 24 hr of receiving 250 mg of thiamin both treated groups showed an increase in their mean ETDP levels, though only that of the parenterally treated group was significantly higher (P<0.05) than the pre-treatment mean. However, after 250 mg thiamin daily for 5 days, both treated groups showed a significant (P<0.05) and almost identical increase in their mean ETDP levels (90 nmol/l. and 91 nmol/l. for the oral and parenteral routes respectively). The results suggest that except for alcoholics requiring thiamin urgently, for whom the parenteral route is demonstrably quicker at raising tissue levels, oral supplementation achieves the same result as parenteral
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