Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient needed to maintain the health of nerves, skin, and red blood cells.
It is involved in energy metabolism and is required for the synthesis of key 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 the active form of B6 in the body. It is essential for the absorption of nutrients from the gut and is an important coenzyme for the conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into beneficial forms of energy in our cells.
P5P also plays an important role in the production of antibodies to immune function. It also maintains electrolyte balance and facilitates the release of stored glycogen from liver and muscle tissue.
This article will discuss available research on how vitamin B6 works in the body, general uses, health benefits, foods and supplements, safety and side effects, and possible drug interactions.
What Is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is one of eight Group B vitamin complex. Pyridoxine is one of the most common forms of vitamin B6.
Although it is commonly used interchangeably with the name pyridoxine, the termB6 vitamins“Technically means six separate compounds called vitamins that show a complex of B vitamins.
In coenzyme forms, vitamin B6 is involved in a variety of biological functions. It has over a hundred enzymatic reactions, most of which help facilitate protein metabolism.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is considered only in minimal amounts in the liver, muscles, and brain tissues. It is found in many food sources and you will not find a deficiency of this vitamin in many developed countries.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), vitamin B6 is as important in energy production as all B complex vitamins.
UMM states that 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 Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the six forms of vitamin B6 are as follows:
- 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 marketed as a drug in some countries.
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 in the body.
Vitamin B6 is needed for the production of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. In particular, it is involved in norepinephrine, dopamine ir serotonin in a synthesis that is known to affect mood and concentration.
These chemical signals help to transmit connections between the nerves in the brain, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
The NIH states that vitamin B6 is required for proper brain development and function. It is necessary to create a myelin sheath that isolates nerves and improves signal transmission and speed.
Vitamin B6 is also needed for melatonin production. This neurotransmitter / hormone is produced by the conjunctival gland and affects functions including reproduction and sleep.
Vitamin B6 works synergistically with vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin) to modulate the amount of an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine can indicate heart disease.
The NIH states that vitamin B6 is also required for normal intestinal absorption of magnesium and vitamin B12. This vitamin is involved in the production of stomach acid.
Vitamin B6 is absorbed in the small intestine called jejunumwhich is located between the ileum and the duodenum.
Both vitamin B6 and B12 are needed for the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin (a compound that carries oxygen to red blood cells). This vitamin is also important for the production of cells in the immune system called lymphocytes.
Pyridoxine is required for amino acid metabolism as well as lipid (fat) and protein metabolism.
Pyridoxine is converted to two coenzymes that are important for many metabolic reactions. These are pyridoxamine phosphate and pyridoxide phosphate.
According to the NIH, some of these coenzyme reactions are:
- Conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Metabolism of phospholipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Heme production by hemoglobin
- Transfer of amino acids from one molecule to another (transamination)
Because of its spectrum of endogenous roles, current research on vitamin B6 focuses on how it can affect cardiovascular disease, cancer, neuropathy, metabolism, diabetes, depression, and more.
Vitamin B6 Consumption And Health Benefits
According to the Comprehensive Database of Natural Medicines (NMCD), people use vitamin B6 supplements for a variety of purposes, including:
- Alzheimer's disease
- For anemia
- Cardiovascular health
- For homocystinuria
- To improve the mood
- Keep your blood vessels healthy
- In the presence of kidney stones
- Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- For eye protection
- Adjust sleep cycles
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Support of brain function (nootropic)
Vitamin B6 has also been studied for asthma, cancer, dysmenorrhea, and supportive heart health. Although there have been some promising results in preliminary clinical trials, this study is currently limited.
More clinical trials are needed to determine the therapeutic efficacy of vitamin B6 in these and other cases.
The FDA has approved injectable vitamin B6 and a combination of pyridoxine-doxylamine (Diclegis) as prescription drugs for the treatment of morning sickness.
The FDA has not approved vitamin B6 supplements as medications for the prevention or treatment of any health condition. These products are sold to support body structure and function, but cannot be claimed to treat any diseases.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare among people who eat healthy and nutritious foods.
Deficiencies may occur with increased blood urea (uremia), cirrhosis of the liver, malabsorption, alcoholism, pregnant women, congestive heart failure and / or hyperthyroidism.
The deficiency is also more likely for those taking certain types of prescription drugs.
A comprehensive database of "natural medicines" shows that pyridoxine deficiency in adults mainly affects the mucous membranes, peripheral nerves, skin and the hematopoietic system (blood organs). B6 deficiency in children can also affect the CNS.
Certain symptoms of B6 deficiency include generalized seizures, abnormal electroencephalogram readings, weakness, dizziness, inflammation, irritability, confusion, and depression.
Other symptoms include swelling and redness of the tongue and / or sores in the mouth, especially in the corners of the mouth.
Sources of Vitamin B6 in Food
Vitamin B6 is found in many food sources in small amounts. Some of the best sources of vitamin B6 food:
Wheat Germ, Bananas, Sunflower Seeds, Lentils, Beans, Pulses, Brown Rice, Liver, Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna, Turkey, Chicken, Milk, Cheese.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin, cabbage and dandelion greens also provide adequate amounts of vitamin B6. Some fortified grains and other grain products also contain this important nutrient.
If possible, choose sources of organic products. If you eat meat, consider choosing herb-fed organic meat that is free of 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 conditions or life circumstances, this is not possible. In such cases, the use of supplements may be beneficial.
Vitamin B6 Food Supplements, Their Consumption And Dosage
The University of Michigan Medical Center states that vitamin B6 supplements are available in the following forms: capsules, tablets, chewing gum, liquid drops, and lozenges.
The most common pyridoxine formulas are 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg doses.
According to the NMCD, there are more than 19 food supplements containing B000 alone or in combination with other compounds for commercial purposes.
It is most commonly labeled as pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, pyridoxine hydrochloride, and pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
The recommended daily dose is 100 mg daily. Higher doses should be discussed with your doctor.
When supplemented with food, doses range from 25 to 100 mg per day.
The following doses were studied:
- Anemia: 25 mg daily in combination with other vitamins
- Cardiovascular disease: 40 mg daily
- Cognitive function: 20 mg daily for 12 weeks
- Dysmenorrhea: 200 mg daily
- PMS: up to 600 mg daily; the recommended optimal dose is 100 mg daily
The UMM argues that although higher doses of vitamin B6 have been studied, doses in excess of 100 mg per day should not be used without the advice and supervision of a physician.
Excessive doses of pyridoxine can cause nerve dysfunction or disease (neuropathy).
Vitamin B6 Side Effects
The NMCD rates vitamin B6 as likely to be safe for healthy adults if taken properly by the oral, parenteral, or injectable routes. Vitamin B6 for injection is a prescription medicine that can only be prescribed by a doctor.
The NMCD states that pyridoxine is likely to be safe when taken orally by pregnant or lactating women. However, it is recommended that it not be used for a long time or without doctor's supervision and dosing recommendations.
Vitamin B6, taken at the right doses, is well tolerated by many people. Although side effects are unlikely, some of the side effects are: loss of appetite, drowsiness, abdominal pain, vomiting, allergic reaction, nausea, paresthesia (tingling or numbness, usually felt in the extremities).
Breast tenderness (mastalgia), breast enlargement, sensitivity to light, certain skin disorders and low levels of foil in the blood are also possible.
More severe side effects such as neuropathy are also possible, but are unlikely when normal amounts of this vitamin are taken. These dangerous results are usually associated with high doses over a long period of time.
Vitamin B6 Interaction with Drugs
Vitamin B6 can interact with certain prescription drugs, and its uptake can be significantly affected by other drugs and some herbal supplements.
Talk to your doctor before taking vitamin B6 supplements with antibiotics such as cycloserine, antiepileptics such as valproic acid, antihypertensive drugs such as captopril, and antiasthmatic drugs such as theophylline.
The NMCD recommended caution when taking vitamin B6 supplements in combination with herbs that lower blood pressure, including: Andrograph, Casein Peptides, Coenzyme Q10, Fish Oil, L-Arginine, Nettle, L-Theanine.
Other interactions are possible. If you are interested in vitamin B6 supplements, talk to your doctor to determine if this product is right for you.