What is the role of nutritional supplementation in the treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS)?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: Glen L Xiong, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

Supplementation of electrolytes, particularly magnesium and potassium (often low in people with alcoholism), may be required in addition to thiamine. Magnesium acts as a cofactor for many enzymes (eg, transketolase for the conversion of thiamine to thiamine pyrophosphate), and, therefore, its deficiency may lead to a refractory response to thiamine supplementation. [53] In patients who are chronically malnourished, the remainder of the B vitamins also should be supplemented with an intravenous or oral multivitamin supplement. In patients with clinical evidence of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, vitamin B-12 levels should be measured.


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