Megavitamin Therapy for Childhood Psychoses and Learning Disabilities
Vitamins have long been recognized for their unique role in human nutrition. Most of these low-molecular weight, organic substances are precursors of coenzymes, and adequate amounts to meet the known nutritional needs of healthy persons of all ages have been defined by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences as the "Recommended Dietary Allowances" (RDA). The consistent opinion of the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics has been that normal children receiving a normal diet do not need vitamin supplementation1 over and above RDA levels.
However, there are a variety of clinical entities in which the daily intake of vitamins needs to be significantly increased. This is true, for example, with the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the steatorrhoeas2 and in the autosomally recessive selective malabsorption of vitamin B12.3 Rarely, children treated with isoniazid require increased pyridoxine; and, when treated with diphenylhydantoin sodium (Dilantin), they need increased folic acid and vitamin D.4 Finally, there are a number of rare inborn errors of metabolism affecting the apoenzyme at the cofactor binding site or involving the metabolism of the vitamin itself to its biologically active derivative.5 In these so-called dependency syndromes, the metabolic defect may completely or partially be overcome by greatly increasing vitamin or cofactor availability.
Set against a background of wide public belief in the benefits of vitamins, the accounts of dramatic amelioration of deficiency states, the easy and relatively inexpensive availability of these substances, and the occasional, remarkable benefit of large doses (both in the dependency syndromes and in certain other clinical situations), it is not surprising that a cult developed in the use of large doses of water-soluble vitamins to treat a wide spectrum of disease states.
- Copyright © 1976 by the American Academy of Pediatrics