The great mass of information on the beneficial influence of thiamine in markedly deficient animals is probably not applicable to any but the most severely deprived humans. No secure data are at hand that thiamine administration to humans "stimulates" appetite; this does not conflict with the well-recognized fact that the vitamin is essential for body processes.
The evidence for appetite-stimulating or growth-promoting effects of vitamin B12 is not convincing. Whatever the specific medical or nutritional indications for vitamin B12 may prove to be, in children, it is clean that this vitamin does not encourage appetite so as to cause increased growth in children. Admitting that the design of experimental work with humans is fraught with difficulties, the lack of scientifically acceptable control subjects makes much of the evidence advanced in support of specific effects of vitamin B12 unacceptable.
The impression should not be conveyed to the physician that "growth failure" is commonplace and that all flagging appetites are due to inadequate intake of either on both of these vitamins. On the basis of current knowledge, claims for any effect of these vitamins in either stimulating appetite or promoting growth are not justified. Present evidence is insufficient to show any effect of vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 on stimulation of appetite or growth except in deficiency states.
This discussion in no way detracts from the metabolic significance or usefulness of these two important vitamins. It is clear that, at present, we do not yet fully understand appetite or all the factors which affect growth. Humility should govern the attitudes of manufacturers and physicians alike when it is urged that growth-promoting substances be given to large groups of children.
- Copyright © 1958 by the American Academy of Pediatrics