Which medications in the drug class Nutrients are used in the treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

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


In treating Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, the objective is to replenish vitamin B-1 stores. In adults, 60-180 mEq of potassium, 10-30 mEq of magnesium, and 10-40 mmol/L of phosphate per day appear necessary to achieve optimum metabolic balance.


Thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin that combines with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to form the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate, which is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism. The B vitamins are readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract (except in cases of malabsorption syndromes). Alcohol inhibits the absorption of thiamine, which occurs primarily in the duodenum.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is a cofactor in a number of enzyme systems; it also is involved in neurochemical transmission and muscular excitability. Patients with chronic alcoholism and patients who are malnourished usually have inadequate magnesium stores.

Potassium acid phosphate (K-Phos)

Potassium is essential for transmission of nerve impulses, contraction of cardiac muscle, maintenance of intracellular tonicity, skeletal and smooth muscles, and maintenance of normal renal function. Gradual potassium depletion occurs via renal excretion, through gastrointestinal loss, or because of low intake. Patients with chronic alcoholism and those who are malnourished usually have inadequate nutrient stores. Potassium depletion sufficient to cause a 1-mEq/L drop in serum potassium requires a loss of about 100-200 mEq of potassium from the total body store.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!