Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDI

nutirtional yeast

Vitamin B6 can make you happier, smarter and less susceptible to brain fog syndrome. In this article, we explore what Vitamin B6 is, its health benefits, What happens if we are Vitamin B6 Deficient, What are Vitamin B6 potential side effects and how much is Vitamin B6’s recommended daily intake.

What is Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (or Pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that is extremely versatile, it participates as a coenzyme* in more than 100 (!) enzymatic reactions that mainly concern the metabolism of amino acids, e.g. it reduces blood homocysteine.

It was first isolated in the 1930s. The term B6 refers to its six common forms, namely pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (PLP), which appears to be the most active form of the human vitamin, pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxamine (PM), pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxamine 5′ phosphate (PMP) and pyridoxine 5′ phosphate (PNP).

Our body uses B vitamins to convert the food we eat into the energy it needs to function. In particular, vitamin B6 plays an important role in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system and is involved in the production of hemoglobin, the protein in the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body.

In addition, it is involved in the metabolism of one carbon units (1C units). These are methyl groups needed for the synthesis of DNA, phospholipids, Creatine (helps muscles in intense exercise. Creatinine is an unhelpful by-product of Creatine metabolism), Polyamines (molecules used in DNA replication, translation of mRNA into amino acids, cell cycle) etc.

It is also essential for proper brain development in children and healthy brain function in people of all ages. It helps the body produce the hormones serotonin, which regulates mood, and norepinephrine, which helps the body cope with stress. It also helps to create melatonin which is important for regulating our internal clock and sleep.

Several studies suggest that adequate intake of vitamin B6 is also of primary importance for brain aging [1]. The combination of vitamin B6, B12 and folate may help slow cognitive decline and memory loss associated with aging, suggesting that vitamins may further help reduce the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and depression [2].

Despite the variety of important roles vitamin B6 plays in our bodies, it seems to have been unduly neglected in the supplement and wellness field – especially when compared to other B vitamins such as biotin and B12.

However, if we study the suggestions of nutritionists and other health experts, we’ll begin to understand just how important it is, as well as the overall benefits and roles it plays in keeping our bodies healthy.

Vitamin B6 Daily Requirements

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults aged 19-50 years is 1.3 mg, for men aged 51 years and over 1.7 mg, for women aged 51 years and over 1.5 mg, during pregnancy 1.9 mg and during breastfeeding 2.0 mg.

19 – 50 years1.3 mg
Women 51+ years1.5 mg
Men 51+ years1.7 mg
Pregnant Women1.9 mg
Breastfeeding2.0 mg

Vitamin B6 Foods

Foods rich in vitamin B6 are:

  • Plant foods: fortified breakfast cereals, beans, nuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, prunes, rice, corn, wheat, etc., bananas, peas, avocados, spinach, peanuts, sunflower seeds.
  • Animal foods: red meat, poultry, liver, fish, fish
  • Human milk contains enough vitamin B6 for infants 0-6 months.

The best way to get enough vitamin B-6 is to have a balanced diet. Severe deficiencies are uncommon but some groups, including vegetarians, may need to take a vitamin B-6 supplement.

Here are some of the best vitamin b6 foods

Foods (100g)Mg/100g
Nutritional Yeast 2,60
Poultry liver (cooked)2,30
Wheat germ1,93
Sunflower seeds1,24
Milk beef (steak)0,64
Turkey (sautéed breast)0,52
Bread (multigrain)0,38
Dark chocolate (70% cocoa)0.37
Peppers (boiled)0,26

Vitamin B6 Health Benefits

Curious to know more about why our bodies love vitamin B6 so much?

Healthy blood vessels – Homocysteine is a type of amino acid that the body gets through protein-rich food sources, but when levels of the amino acid are too high, there can be a risk of inflammation, heart disease and other cardiovascular complications. Studies have shown that adequate amounts of vitamin B6 combined with folate can significantly help reduce total homocysteine levels in the body [3].

Brain function – Vitamin B6 levels play a central role in glucose function in the brain. Essentially, the vitamin encourages proper function and development of the brain and nervous system, and some studies suggest that deficiency could affect diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia as we begin to age [4].

Smoother functioning of hormones – Vitamin B6 can help boost progesterone production to counteract excess estrogen – a leading cause of hormonal dysfunction. Vitamin B6 supports the development of the corpus luteum, from which all progesterone is derived [5]. It also works with your liver enzymes to remove excess estrogen from the body and boost the immune system.

Related: What Are Enzymes: The Secret to Health And Longevity

Improve mood – Vitamin B6 has a significant impact on the central production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA in the brain, which are important compounds for regulating mood, depression, pain, fatigue and preventing anxiety [6].

Treatment of anemia – If you are already suffering from anemia, increasing vitamin B6 can help reduce symptoms of the condition such as fatigue, weakness, body aches and pains, and more [7].

Eye health – Adequate intake of vitamin B6 combined with other vitamins such as folate is a must for optimal eye health.

Management of arthritis – Vitamin B6 deficiency has been associated with increased symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other pain-related complications [8]. Proper intake of vitamin B6 can benefit the disease by reducing inflammation, thus relieving swelling and other common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Related: The Top 10 Best Supplements for Osteoarthritis

Relieves and manages premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – Because it plays an important role in terms of our hormones, it’s no surprise that adequate levels of vitamin B6 can benefit those who suffer from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as chest pain, nausea, cramps, fatigue and headaches. It is believed that vitamin B6 helps with PMS due to its positive effects on specific neurotransmitters responsible for managing pain in the brain, as well as its ability to increase blood flow and manage hormones [9].

Better sleep – You’ve probably heard how important a role melatonin plays in a healthy sleep routine. As it turns out, vitamin B6 helps the body produce melatonin.

Reducing morning sickness in pregnancy – According to studies, vitamin B6 can help relieve common pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness [10].

Fan Fact
Vitamin B6 is used as an antidote to poisoning from ethylene glycol (antifreeze), from Hydrazine, from certain mushrooms (of the genus Gyromitra)

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency causes

  • microcytic anemia,
  • convulsions (uncontrollable muscle contractions)
  • confusion,
  • depression,
  • skin rash,
  • inflammation of the tongue (glossitis) and lips (lip inflammation),
  • inadequate immune system,
  • neuropathy of peripheral nerves (weakness of limbs, numbness, etc.),
  • exhaustion.
  • Increase the amino acid Homocysteine in the blood, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke.

☝ In children under 12 months of age, its deficiency causes irritability and convulsions.

Vitamin B6 is reduced (usually along with vitamin B12 and folic acid) in those who

  • consume alcohol continuously,
  • the obese,
  • pregnant women,
  • those who have undergone bariatric surgery,
  • those on dialysis,
  • those who do not consume protein,
  • those with autoimmune diseases (e.g. e.g. rheumatoid arthritis),
  • those taking isoniazid (for tuberculosis),
  • those taking Carbamazepine (e.g. Tegretol),
  • those taking Theophylline,
  • those with malabsorption syndrome (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)

Vitamin B6 Side effects

The maximum daily allowable dose (UL) of vitamin B6 should not exceed 100 mg (sum of dietary and supplemental vitamin B6) for those of 18 years of age.

Peripheral sensory neuropathy due to toxicity from excessive intake of vitamin B6-pyridoxine increases in frequency as the consumption of vitamin supplements containing it in high concentration increases.

The majority of people who take it are generally unaware of the potential for toxicity or believe that its excess is excreted in the urine because it is a water-soluble vitamin.

As stated in the article “Vitamin B6 Toxicity” from the NCBI-National Center for Biotechnology Information, excessive intake of pyridoxine-B6 creates conditions that mimic its deficiency.

Consequently, the symptoms of vitamin B6 overdose are similar to the symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency, making early recognition of toxicity difficult.

In addition, individuals taking pyridoxine-B6 supplements tend to arbitrarily increase the dosage of the vitamin in the persistence of symptoms or signs that originally led to its intake.

Neurotoxicity from excessive B6 intake is attributed to the antagonistic effect of ingested, inert pyridoxine. The increased concentration of inactive B6 inhibits the enzymes associated with the metabolism of the biologically active forms of vitamin B6, in particular 5-phosphate pyridoxal.

Symptoms of hypervitaminosis B6

  • There is peripheral sensory neuropathy, numbness, i.e. numbness in the upper and/or lower limbs with a glove-sock distribution, respectively.
  • In addition, myalgia is likely to occur
  • bone pains
  • hypersensitivity
  • ataxia
  • instability

When toxicity from B6 hypervitaminosis occurs.

B6 hypervitaminosis is not observed from food consumption, is always associated with frequent or prolonged consumption of high doses of dietary supplements or is iatrogenic.

According to the NCBI article “Vitamin B6 Toxicity”, controlled supplementation of vitamin B6 is recommended in special patient situations, such as when taking isoniazid. In this case the dose should not exceed 10 – 25 mg/day.

  • At doses up to 200 mg/day there is no report of toxicity.
  • At doses of 500mg per day for a period of months, there are reports of patients experiencing peripheral sensory neuropathy due to toxicity.
  • At doses of 1000mg per day, even for short periods, toxicity and development of neuropathy is recorded.

The diagnosis of hypervitaminosis is suspected in patients with a history of B6 intake. In addition to blood levels of B6, in the persistence of neurological symptoms, it is advisable to check all preparations and fortified drinks consumed by the patient.

Treatment of peripheral sensory neuropathy due to toxicity from excessive intake of B6-pyridoxine relies on complete cessation of vitamin supplementation.

Related: Vitamin K: Sources, Health Benefits, Deficiency, Side effects, RDA

Vitamin B6 Supplements

After reading the possible side effects from high Vitamin B6 intake but you still need a good Vitamin B6 supplement, we recommend checking one of the following brands. They all received raving reviews from users across the world.

BrandQuantityAmount Per Serving
1️⃣Amazing Formulas250 capsules25 mg
2️⃣Nutricost240 capsules50 mg
3️⃣Best Naturals250 tablets25 mg
4️⃣NOW Supplements250 capsules100 mg
5️⃣BulkSupplements100 Grams (powder)50 mg

☝ Those taking Levodopa should not take Vitamin B6 supplements (reduces the effect of Levodopa).

Final Take

Vitamin B6 is a very important vitamin for our brains and cognitive function. Taking Vitamin B6 will never cause any side effects. Those who tend to consume large amounts of it from supplements must be aware that toxicity might occur.

By the way, if you found this article on ”What is Vitamin B6” helpful, feel free to share it across the Internet. It will really help this blog grow and get people more educated on health and nutrition.

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