In a nutshell
Vitamin B6, like other B vitamins, plays a vital role in metabolism (breaking down and transforming the foods we eat into energy and basic materials used for rebuilding tissues in the body). It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it is not stored in large amounts in the body, so it must be obtained regularly through the diet.
Forms of the vitamin
There are seven versions of this vitamin. The three most commonly occurring versions are pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine.
Vitamin B6 Benefits
B6 is vital for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It is essential for brain development in the course of pregnancy and infancy. This B vitamin also helps the body to create neurotransmitters that are involved in the regulation of mood and sleep patterns. There is a theory that pyridoxine taken about one hour before bed (even with regular vitamins B supplements) can increase dream vividness due to its effect on serotonin production. This nutrient may also help with cognitive functioning, especially regarding memory. Some studies reveal vitamin B6 benefits (with magnesium) in relieving hyperactivity and improvement in the ability to concentrate.
B6 is necessary for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the cells. This vitamin also helps increase the effectiveness of the functioning of the immune system by assisting in the formation of antibodies to help fight foreign invaders in the body. The health of the skin, hair, and eyes is also affected by this vitamin.
B6 benefits also include regulation of blood sugar levels, reduction of heart disease risk, balancing of proper levels of steroid hormones in the body.
Vitamin B6 deficiency
It is rare to have a significant deficiency of this vitamin, though low-shortage may occur. Certain diseases may cause deficiencies, so those with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, and alcoholism, may wish to discuss the matter with their physician to be sure they get enough of this nutrient. Without enough of this vitamin in the diet, there is a risk of developing certain health conditions:
• Heart disease;
• Rheumatoid arthritis;
• Age-related macular degeneration;
• Inflammatory skin conditions, especially seborrhoeic dermatitis;
• Damage of the central nervous system and peripheral nerves.
• Certain types of anemia;
• Muscle weakness;
• Sores and ulcers in and around the mouth.
Vitamin B6 overdose
When obtaining this nutrient from food sources, there has been no risk associated with overdose. However, getting too much B6 through supplements can have adverse effects on health. Severe progressive nerve damage has been associated with the long-term use of high amounts of this vitamin. This typically results in pain and tingling in the extremities and may limit the ability to walk. Other symptoms include the development of painful skin lesions and increased sensitivity to light as well as gastrointestinal disturbances. The upper intake level ranges from 30 mg a day for young children to 100 mg per day for adults. Those taking B6 supplements for health problems should be monitored carefully by their physicians.
Daily Recommended Intake
Daily Recommended Intake is very specific for individuals and depends on age:
• Babies and infants:0.1 - 0.3 mg/day;
• Ages 1 - 8: 0.5 - 0.6 mg/day;
• Ages 9- 18: 1.0 - 1.3 mg/day;
• Ages 18 - 50: 1.3 mg/day;
• Ages 50+: 1.5 - 1.6 mg/day.
Sources of vitamin B6
The following foods have high amounts of vitamin B6:
• Rice bran (100g) - 4.1 mg;
• Spearmint (dried) (100g) -2.6 mg;
• Paprika (dried), chili (dried) (100g) -2.1 mg;
• Bay leaf (dried), rosemary (dried) (100g) -1.7 mg;
• Pistachio nuts (raw) (100g) - 1.7 mg;
• Wheat bran, wheat germ (100g) - 1.3 mg;
• Garlic (raw), safflower seed (dried), marjoram (dried) (100g) - 1.2 mg;
• Chicken breast (cooked, grilled)(100g) -1.16 mg;
• Tuna, salmon (cooked) (100g) - 0.9 mg;
• Turkey liver (cooked) (100g) - 0.9 mg;
• Pork (cooked) (100g) - 0.8 mg.
Other important sources of Vitamin B6:
• Potatoes, avocado, spinach, broccoli;
• Dates, apples, red grapefruit, bananas, melons;
• Cheese, yogurt.
B6 was discovered in 1934
Hungarian physicist Paul Gyorgy discovered this vitamin in 1934. He found that this nutrient was able to cure a particular type of skin disease in rats. He named this substance as Vitamin B6. This vitamin was isolated in 1938, with its structure first being determined in 1939. There are seven versions of this vitamin. The three most commonly occurring versions are pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine.