Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Heart failure tough on B vitamins

Heart Beat

Heart failure tough on B vitamins

Malnutrition is one of the many complications of advanced heart failure. It is the result of physical, chemical, and hormonal changes that dull the appetite and rev up metabolism. In addition, diuretics (water pills) can wash some nutrients out of the body. A survey of 100 Canadians hospitalized for heart failure showed that 27% had a deficiency of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and 38% were quite low on vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). The findings were published in the August 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Earlier studies have shown that up to one-third of people with heart failure have below-normal levels of vitamin B1 (thiamine) as well.

These three B vitamins are important for energy production and the formation of red blood cells. Deficiencies could be one cause of the lack of energy and anemia often associated with heart failure.

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