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December 19, 1966

Vitamin B6 Deficiency In Beer Drinkers

Author Affiliations

Sheridan, Wyo

JAMA. 1966;198(12):1314. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110250128043

To the Editor:—  Recent publicity (196, June 13, 1966, adv p 25; 197: 592 [Aug 17] 1966; and AMA News Oct 17, 1966, p 4) emphasized the mystery surrounding unexplained myocarditis, heart failure, and death in heavy beer drinkers. Perhaps the mystery can be explained by vitamin B6 deficiency rather than by some possible toxin such as cobaltous additives. French reported that myocardial necrosis was frequent in vitamin B6-deficient rats.1 Assada and Mitsumori have shown a decrease in production of serum pyridoxal phosphate (the active biological form of vitamin B6) in humans who have liver disease.2 Perhaps the heavy beer drinkers were alcoholics who were unable to manufacture sufficient pyridoxal phosphate because of vitamin B6 deficiency and liver damage.