January 08, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Supplementing vitamin B6 to piglets

Interpretive Summary: Effects of vitamin B6 on growth, diarrhea rate, intestinal morphology, function, and inflammatory factors expression in a high-protein diet fed to weaned piglets

By: Anne Wallace

Vitamin B6 (VB6) is an essential vitamin involved in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Due to its role as a cofactor in a multitude of metabolic reactions, feed supplemented with VB6 may potentially impact the health of weaned farm animals. The authors of this December 2019 Journal of Animal Science study evaluated the effects supplemented VB6 had on the intestinal health of piglets fed a high protein diet.

Eighteen twenty-one-day old weaned piglets were fed one of three different diets for 14 days. These diets included: no added VB6, 4 mg/kg VB6, and 7 mg/kg VB6. Piglet diets were formulated to be high in crude protein (22%).

Growth performance was unchanged in piglets from any of the three groups. Rates of diarrhea were also similar. However, total blood protein, cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were increased in piglets fed 7 mg/kg VB6. Amino acid transporter genes were also upregulated in this group. No effects on the structure of the jejunum were noted, however the ileum had increased villus height and width. Several inflammatory cytokines (e.g. tumor necrosis factor-α) were also found to be increased in the 7 mg/kg VB6 group. 

Overall, the results of this study suggest that supplementing VB6 in high protein feed may have an impact on the intestinal health of weaned piglets. How these findings may benefit piglet growth or overall health needs to be studied in more detail. Although no noticeable changes to frequency of diarrhea were noted in this study, exposure to pathogens or other stressors during VB6 supplementation may yield different results and is another potential area of study.