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J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Aug;109(8):1406-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.011.

B-vitamin deficiency in hospitalized patients with heart failure.

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  • 1Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The impact of heart failure and its treatment on specific nutrient requirements is unknown. Furthermore, depletion of water-soluble B vitamins that play key roles in the production of cellular energy in patients with heart failure can contribute to depletion of energy reserves observed in the failing heart. A cross-sectional study recently reported that approximately one third of hospitalized patients with heart failure had tissue levels suggestive of thiamin deficiency (vitamin B-1). Riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) are similar to thiamin in that they are water-soluble, subject to renal excretion, have limited tissue storage, and are dependent on intake. Therefore, it was hypothesized that the status of these B vitamins may also be adversely affected by heart failure. As a result, the prevalence of patients at risk of vitamin B-2 (erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient > or = 1.2) and B-6 deficiency (plasma B-6 < or = 20 nmol/L) was determined in a cross-section of 100 patients hospitalized with heart failure between April 2001 and June 2002 as well as in a group of volunteers without heart failure. Twenty-seven percent of patients with heart failure had biochemical evidence of vitamin B-2 deficiency, while 38% had evidence of B-6 deficiency. These prevalence rates were significantly higher than those observed in the volunteers without heart failure (2% and 19%, respectively; P < or = 0.02). Use of common B-vitamin-containing supplements by patients with heart failure did not significantly reduce deficiency rates in comparison with those who did not use supplements (B-2 P=0.38 or B-6 P=0.18)). Finally, while 80% of patients with heart failure took diuretics, neither the dose nor the duration of furosemide use was related to the presence of either B-2 or B-6 deficiency. Given the physiologic importance of these vitamins, further investigations aimed at determining the effect of heart failure on specific nutrient requirements as well as the safety and efficacy of B-vitamin supplementation are warranted.

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