Vitamin B6 is a necessary nutrient needed to maintain the health of the nerves, skin and red blood cells.
It is involved in energy metabolism and is necessary for the synthesis of major neurotransmitters that regulate mood balance, alertness and sleep cycles. It is also important for myelin formation and brain health.
There are several different vitamin B6 supplements, including pyridoxine HCL and pyridoxal-5′-phosphate (P5P), sometimes called activated B6.
P5P is an active form of B6 in the body. It is essential for the absorption of nutrients from the intestine and is an important coenzyme for the conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into useful forms of energy in our cells.
P5P also plays an important role in the immune function of antibodies. It also maintains electrolyte balance and facilitates the release of protected glycogen from the liver and muscle tissue.
This article will discuss available research on how vitamin B6 works in the body, common uses, health benefits, foods and supplements, safety and side effects, and possible drug interactions.
What Is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is one of eight Vitamin B complex. Pyridoxine is one of the most common forms of vitamin B6.
Although it is commonly used interchangeably with the name pyridoxine, the termVitamin B6"Technically means six separate compounds called vitamins that show Vitamin B complex.
In the form of co-enzymes, vitamin B6 is involved in various biological functions. It has more than one hundred enzymatic reactions, most of which help to facilitate protein metabolism.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is considered to be minimal in the liver, muscle and brain tissue. It is found in many food sources and you will not find this vitamin deficiency in many developed countries.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), vitamin B6 is important for energy production, like all B complex vitamins.
UMM says all B vitamins are needed to maintain proper nervous system function and maintain healthy liver, skin, hair and eyes.
How Does Vitamin B6 Work Inside The Body?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) claims that six forms of vitamin B6 are:
- pyridoxine (PN), alcohol
- pyridoxal (PL), aldehyde
- pyridoxamine (PM) containing an amino group
- pyridoxine-5'-phosphate (P5P)
- pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP)
- pyridoxamine-5'-phosphate (PMP)
Another form is 4-pyridoxic acid (PA), which is a metabolite excreted in the urine. Pyritinol is a semi-synthetic form of this vitamin that has been sold in some countries as a medicine.
P5P is the most common form of this vitamin in the blood. This is sometimes referred to as the active pyridoxine metabolite. Most of these forms are interchangeable with the body.
Vitamin B6 is required for the production of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Especially he is involved in norepinephrine, dopamine ir serotonin which is known to affect mood and concentration of attention.
These chemical signals help to convey the links between the nerves in the brain, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
NIH states that vitamin B6 is needed for proper brain development and function. It is necessary to create a myelin sheath that isolates the nerves and improves signal transmission and speed.
Vitamin B6 is also needed melatonin production. This neurotransmitter / hormone is produced by the conjunctival gland and functions, including reproduction and sleep.
Vitamin B6 works synergistically with vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin) that the amount of amino acid of the modulating protein called homocysteine is in the blood. High levels of homocysteine may indicate heart disease.
NIH states that vitamin B6 is also required for the normal absorption of magnesium and vitamin B12 from the intestine. This vitamin is associated with the production of gastric acid.
Vitamin B6 is absorbed in the small intestine called jejunum, which is between the vagina and the duodenum.
Both Vitamin B6 and B12 are needed for the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin (a compound that carries oxygen in red blood cells). This vitamin is also important for the production of immune cells called lymphocytes.
Pyridoxine is required for amino acid metabolism, as well as lipid (fat) and protein metabolism.
Pyridoxine is converted into two coenzymes that are important for many metabolic reactions. These are pyridoxamine phosphate and pyridox phosphate.
According to NIH, some of these coenzyme reactions are:
- Amino Acid tryptophan conversion to vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Metabolism of phospholipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Hemosa Production Hemoglobin
- Transfer of amino acids from one molecule to another (transamination)
Due to its endogenous spectrum of roles, current vitamin B6 studies are focused on how it can affect cardiovascular disease, cancer, neuropathy, metabolism, diabetes, depression, and so on.
Vitamin B6 Consumption And Benefits To Health
According to the Natural Drugs Comprehensive Database (NMCD), people use supplements of vitamin B6 for various purposes, including:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Cardiovascular health
- To improve mood
- Keep blood vessels healthy
- With kidney stones
- Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Eye health protection
- Regulate sleep cycles
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Brain function support (nootropic)
Vitamin B6 has also been studied for asthma, cancer, dysmenorrhea and heart health. Although there were some promising results in preliminary clinical trials, this study is currently limited.
In order to determine the therapeutic efficacy of B6 in these and other cases, more clinical trials are required.
The FDA has approved injectable vitamin B6 and the pyridoxine doxylamine combination (Diclegis) as prescription drugs for the treatment of eastern disease.
FDA has not approved vitamin B6 food supplements as medicines for the prevention or treatment of any health disorders. These products are sold to support body structure and function but cannot claim to treat any disease.
Deficiency of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare among people who eat healthy and nutritious food.
Deficiencies may occur in the presence of increased urea levels (uremia), cirrhosis of the liver, malabsorption disorders, alcoholism, pregnant women, congestive heart failure and / or hyperthyroidism.
The disadvantage is also more likely for those who use certain types of prescription drugs.
A comprehensive database of "Natural Medicines" shows that pyridoxine deficiency in adults mainly affects mucous membranes, peripheral nerves, skin and hematopoiesis (blood organs). B6 deficiency in children can also affect CNS.
Some of the symptoms of B6 deficiency are common seizures, abnormal electroencephalogram readings, weakness, dizziness, inflammation, irritability, confusion and depression.
Other symptoms include swelling of the tongue and redness and / or sores in the mouth, especially in the corners of the mouth.
Vitamin B6 Sources Food
Vitamin B6 is found in many food sources in small quantities. Some of the best sources of vitamin B6 food:
Wheat grain germ, Bananas, Sunflower seeds, Lenses, Beans, Pulses, Brown rice, Liver, Salmon, Shrimps, Tuna, Turkey, Chicken, Milk, Cheese.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin, cabbage and dandelion greens also provide the right amount of vitamin B6. Some fortified grains and other cereal products also have this important nutrient.
If possible, select sources of organic products. If you eat meat, consider choosing herb-fed organic meat without antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones.
If possible, it is recommended to obtain nutrients such as Vitamin B6 from food sources.
For some people with certain health or life circumstances it is not possible. In such cases, the use of supplements may be beneficial.
Vitamin B6 Food Supplements, Their Usage And Dosage
The University of Michigan Medical Center says that vitamin B6 supplements are available in the following forms: capsules, tablets, chewing gum, liquid drops and lozenges.
The most common pyridoxine formulations are 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg.
According to the NMCD, for commercial purposes there are more than 19 000 food supplements containing B6 alone or with other compounds.
Most often it is labeled as pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, pyridoxine hydrochloride and pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
The recommended daily dose is 100 mg per day. Higher doses should be discussed with your doctor.
In addition to food, the dose ranges from 25 to 100 mg per day.
The following doses were studied in the studies:
- Anemia: 25 mg daily in combination with other vitamins
- Cardiovascular diseases: 40 mg per day
- Cognitive function: 20 mg daily for 12 weeks
- Dysmenorrhea: 200 mg daily
- PMS: up to 600 mg per day; the recommended optimal dose is 100 mg daily
The UMM says that although higher doses of vitamin B6 have been studied, doses over 100 mg daily should not be used without the advice and care of a physician.
Excessive doses of pyridoxine can cause nerve dysfunction or disease (neuropathy).
Vitamin B6 Side Effect
NMCD estimates vitamin B6 as likely to be safe for healthy adults if they are taking oral, parenteral or injectable use. Injectable vitamin B6 is a prescription drug that can only be prescribed by a doctor.
NMCD argues that pyridoxine is likely to be safe when taken by pregnant or lactating women. However, it is recommended that it should not be used for long periods or without the advice of a physician.
Vitamin B6, used at the right dose, is well tolerated by many people. Although the side effects are unlikely, some adverse reactions are: loss of appetite, drowsiness, abdominal pain, vomiting, allergic reaction, nausea, paraesthesia (tingling or numbness, usually felt in the limbs).
Breast sensitivity (mastalgia), breast enlargement, photosensitivity, certain skin disorders and decreased folic folate levels are also possible.
There may also be more serious side effects such as neuropathy, but are unlikely when normal levels of this vitamin are used. These dangerous results are usually associated with high doses over a long period of time.
Vitamin B6 Interaction with Medicines
Vitamin B6 can interact with certain prescription drugs and its absorption can be significantly affected by other medicines and some herbal supplements.
Check with your doctor before taking vitamin B6 with antibiotics such as cycloserine, anti-epileptic medicines such as Valproic acid, antihypertensive medicines such as captopril, and anti-asthma drugs such as theophylline.
NMCD recommended to be cautious when taking vitamin B6 supplements along with herbs that reduce blood pressure, including: Andrograph, Casein Peptides, Coenzyme Q10, Fish Fat, L-Arginine, Cracked nettle, L-Teanin.
Other interactions are possible. If you are interested in vitamin B6 supplements, consult your doctor to determine if this product is right for you.
- National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B6 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). Accessed Dec. 20, 2016
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Vitamin B6 Monograph. Accessed dec 20, 2016.
- Ax, J. Vitamin B6 Benefits, Deficiency & Sources. Accessed Dec. 20, 2016.
- Helps reduce tiredness and fatigue
- Helps maintain normal energy metabolism
- Helps maintain normal nervous system activity
- Helps maintain a normal psychological function