13. Pyruvate Dehydrogenase: Why Carbs Leave Your Thiamin Working Overtime

The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex catalyzes the one decarboxylation step that carbohydrate undergoes to generate acetyl CoA, which accounts for the one carbon dioxide molecule produced in carbohydrate metabolism that is not produced during the metabolism of fat. It also accounts for why burning carbs requires twice as much thiamin as fat. In fact, the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex is remarkably analogous to the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex, sharing all the same cofactors and catalyzing virtually the same reactions. In this lesson, we look at why this has to be true and how it works. This provides the foundation for our deeply practical look at thiamin in the next lesson.