Vitamin B6, Epilepsy and First 1,000 Days 25 Jun 2012
In 1912, the Polish biochemist Casimir Funk isolated the first vitamin (B1) from rice bran. With the discovery of this essential compound, Funk coined the tem “vitamin”, a combination of “vita” (Latin for life) and “amine” because the essential nutrient was nitrogenous in nature. A century later, researchers are still elucidating the role of B vitamins in brain development and function of newborns.
Albersen and colleagues studied vitamin B6 concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid of 36 newborn infants (26 preterm and 10 fullterm). Concentrations of pyridoxal, pyridoxal phosphate, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxic acid levels were 2X higher in preterm than fullterm newborns (>42 wk). Because of these differences, the authors recommend that vitamin B6 concentrations, and deficiency, be considered in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder which the brain has episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior, including seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation website states that nearly 3 million Americans are affected with an estimated annual cost of $17.6 billion in direct and indirect costs. Approximately 200,000 new cases of seizures and epilepsy occur each year.
After birth, infants should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. However, maternal deficiencies of some micronutrients, eg B vitamins, can result in low vitamin concentrations in breast milk. These studies point to the importance of good nutrition during the first 1000 days of life. Every year 3.5 million young children die from undernutrition. It is time to scale up nutrition.
100 years of vitamins and we are still learning about their essentiality for health. -mm-
Albersen M et al. Vitamin B6 vitamer concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid differ between preterm and term newborn infants. 2012 Pediatrics online June 25.
Allen LH. B vitamins in breast milk: relative importance of maternal status and intake, and effects on infant status and function. 2012 Adv Nutr 3:362.