Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 helps the body convert food into fuel, which is needed to produce energy. Like other B vitamins, vitamin B6 is needed to metabolize fats and proteins and to have healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. Vitamin B6 is integral to the proper functioning of the nervous system. The body requires vitamin B6 to carry signals from nerve cell to nerve cell, and it needs the vitamin for normal brain development and functioning. The body uses vitamin B6 to make certain hormones, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood. Working with vitamins B12 and B9 (folate), vitamin B6 controls levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that has been associated with heart disease. In addition, the body uses vitamin B6 to absorb vitamin B12 and to make red blood cells and support the immune system.
Vitamin B6 is the general term for the six compounds such as pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxamine (PM), and phosphate derivatives such as pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), pyridoxine 5′- phosphate (PNP), and pyridoxamine 5′-phosphate (PMP). It is the PLP form that is the most significant in human operations. Though known for its pivotal role in the processing of amino acids, Vitamin B6 has its role in homocysteine metabolism & in reducing cardiovascular disease risk.
What Are The Foods Sources Which Provide Vitamin B6?
Excellent sources of vitamin B6 include tuna, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, turnip greens, bell peppers, cauliflower and garlic. Very good sources of vitamin B6 include turkey, chicken, beef, salmon, sweet potatoes, banana, potatoes, winter and summer squash, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, kale, carrots, beet greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, asparagus, leeks, tomatoes and chili peppers. Good sources of vitamin B6 include sunflower seeds, pinto beans, avocados, lentils, green peas, lima beans, onions, shrimp, pineapple, cod, shiitake and crimini mushrooms, cantaloupe, corn, beets, eggplant, green beans, celery, strawberries, watermelon, romaine lettuce, figs, and sea vegetables. Vitamin B6 is usually contained in a multivitamin, and it may also be purchased in a B-complex vitamin or as a single supplement. It may be sold under several names, including pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, pyridoxine hydrochloride, and pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
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What are Recommended Intake Levels of Vitamin B6?
The National Academy of Sciences has established Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin B6 by age and gender. The recommendations for infants under one year are adequate intake standards. Lactating women should take in 2 mg per day, while pregnant women should take in 1.9 mg per day. Males 50 years and older should take in 1.7 mg per day, while females 50 years and older should take in 1.5 mg per day. Males and females between the ages of 19 and 50 years and males between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 1.3 mg per day, while females between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 1.2 mg per day. Children between the ages of 9 and 13 years should take in 1 mg per day, while children between the ages of 4 and 8 years should take in 0.6 mg per day. Children between the ages of one and three years should take in 0.5 mg per day. Infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months should take in 0.3 mg per day, while infants between birth and 6 months should take in 0.1 mg per day. The tolerable upper limit for vitamin B6 is set at 100 mg per day. Very high intake levels may be achieved only with supplementation.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B6
Here are some health benefits discussed on Vitamin B6:
- Healthy blood vessels
Pyridoxine is required for regulating levels of compounds known as homocysteine within blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid achieved from intake of protein sources such as meat. High homocysteine levels in blood are associated to inflammation and onset of heart disease or blood vessel disease which contributes to heart attack. Insufficient Vitamin B6 builds homocysteine in the body and damage blood vessels linings. It could set for harmful buildup of plaque leading to stroke and heart attack. Study shows that patients with intake of Vitamin B6 with folate, it lowers total homocysteine levels significantly. Vitamin B6 helps in treating high level of homocysteine levels so the body could cure damage made to blood vessels.
- Brain health
Vitamin B6 is beneficial for proper development of brain and brain function. Study shows that deficiency of Vitamin B6 influence memory function and contributes cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s as people ages. Studies have shown deficiency of Vitamin B6 is associated to contributing Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B6 has positive impact on brain function by controlling level of homocysteine which contributes heart disease and damage neurons of central nervous system. It plays a vital role in making hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine which are known as happy hormones that controls mood, concentration and energy. Researchers concluded that ADHD in children are caused due to low level of serotonin and an intake of Vitamin B6 provides beneficial effect on children having this behavior and learning disorders.
- Enhance mood
Vitamin B6 has similar functions of antidepressant medications to increase serotonin levels in brain. Research shows that Vitamin B6 has powerful impact on central production of both serotonin & GABA neurotransmitters in brain. It is a vital hormone which control mood and required for preventing depression, fatigue, pain and anxiety so Vitamin B6 is associated with promoting mood and prevent mood disorders. This vitamin is involved in production of hormone in brain and is effective in treating mood disorders and some brain diseases that develop as a result of deficiencies in neurotransmitter function. Research shows that supplements of Vitamin B6 lifts mood, experience less pain and avoid lack of energy and concentration.
- Cure for anemia
Vitamin B6 is required for creating hemoglobin in blood which is delivered by red blood cells throughout body to help transfer oxygen to cells and mobilize iron. Anemia is the condition which is experienced when one does not have enough red blood cells leading to symptoms such as aches, fatigue and pains. Study shows that intake of Vitamin B6 reduce symptoms of anemia and prevent its occurrence.
- Vision heath
Deficiencies of nutrients are the cause of eye problems. Studies shows that Vitamin B6 with other vitamins such as folate which assist in preventing eye problems and loss of vision. It helps to slow down the onset of certain eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration.
- Treat arthritis
Low level of Vitamin B6 is related with increasing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis including severe pain. Studies have shown that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should intake more Vitamin B6 benefits curbing pain and used as a supplement to control aches in muscles and joints due to arthritis.
- Cure high blood pressure
Supplements of Vitamin B6 help to reduce blood pressure in people having high blood pressure. It promotes blood flow, lowers build up in arteries and prevent common factor in heart disease.
- Treat premenstrual syndrome
Intake of Vitamin B6 prevents PMS symptoms. Study have shown that Vitamin B6 assist in treating nausea, breast pain, cramps, nausea, headaches, fatigue and acne which occurs before women’s menstrual cycle. Believed that Vitamin B6 is helpful for PMS as it has positive effect on neurotransmitters responsible for managing pain in brain, increases blood flow and manage hormones. It is recommended to take B complex vitamins regularly for 10 days before menstruating for women with frequent PMS symptoms
- Lowers nausea
Study shows that Vitamin B6 is not effective to provide relief from severity of nausea and morning sickness which occurs during pregnancy. Study shows that patients with severity of nausea found Vitamin B6 to be helpful.
- Cure for asthma
Studies have shown that Vitamin B6 is beneficial for lowering asthma attacks. This nutrient is helpful for lowering symptoms of wheezing which is related with asthma attacks and also lowers severity or frequency of attacks.
- Regulate sleep cycles
Vitamin B6 assists in forming melatonin which is a vital hormone that helps to fall asleep. Melatonin is responsible to allow regulating internal clock and be aware to wake up and have energy and also to wind down and fall asleep for night.
- Kidney stone prevention
Evidence has shown that Vitamin B6 with other minerals such as magnesium is helpful in treating kidney stones. Vitamin B6 is helpful for patients who are prone to kidney stones due to other illnesses.
What Happens If Too Little Vitamin B6 Is Consumed?
Because of the role of vitamin B-6 in hemoglobin synthesis, a deficiency in vitamin B-6 would affect multiple body systems, including the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems, as well as overall energy metabolism. Vitamin B-6 deficiency also results in widespread symptoms, including depression, vomiting, skin disorders, irritation of the nerves, anemia, and impaired immune response. People with alcoholism are susceptible to a vitamin B-6 deficiency. A metabolite formed in alcohol metabolism can displace the coenzyme form of B-6, increasing its tendency to be destroyed. In addition, alcohol decreases the absorption of vitamin B-6 and decreases the synthesis of its coenzyme form. Cirrhosis and hepatitis (both can accompany alcoholism) also destroy healthy liver tissue. Thus, a cirrhotic liver cannot adequately metabolize vitamin B-6 or synthesize its coenzyme form.
Can Vitamin B6 Be Toxic?
The Tolerable Upper Limit has been set at 100 milligrams daily for both women with low levels for children and during pregnancy and early lactation and pregnancy. If consumed 2 to 6 grams for many months, it can affect nervous function and possibly lead to irreversible damage to nervous tissue. Symptoms of vitamin B-6 toxicity include walking difficulties, and hand and foot tingling and numbness. At one time, vitamin B6 was considered a possible treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but this concept has since been abandoned and should not go after due to lack of promising supportive research and potential for toxicity.