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Home :: Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Alternative name :: Pyridoxine

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6, also called Pyridoxine , refers to a family of water soluble substances - including pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine, that are closely related in form and function. Vitamin B6 is a water soluble nutrient that cannot be stored in the body, but must be obtained daily from either dietary sources or supplements.

Although vitamin B6 isn't as talked about as some of its B-vitamin cousins, it's among the busiest nutrient within the B-complex. It is involved in more bodily functions than almost any other single nutrient. Like other B vitamins, vitamin B6 helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Also called pyridoxine, the nutrient supports normal immune system, nervous system, and mental functions. The vitamin is essential for nerve impulse transmission within the brain and is necessary for antibody production.

Benefits of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is beneficial if you suffer from water retention, and is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid and the absorption of fats and protein. Vitamin B6 also aids in maintaining sodium and potassium balance, and promotes red blood cell formation. It is required by the nervous system and is needed for normal brain function and for the synthesis of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, which contain the genetic instructions for the reproduction of all cells and for normal cellular growth.

Vitamin B6 plays a role in cancer immunity and aids in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. It inhibits the formation of a toxic chemical called homocysteine, which attacks the heart muscle and allows the deposition of cholesterol around the heart muscle. Vitamin B6 acts as a mild diuretic, reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and it may be useful in preventing oxalate kidney stones as well. It is helpful in the treatment of allergies, arthritis, and asthma.

Recommended Dosage of Vitamin B6

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Vitamin B6 are :-

  • Men - 2 mg.
  • Women - 1.6 mg.
  • Pregnant women - 2.2 mg.

Excessive Intake of Vitamin B6

When taken for three months or more, levels of 2,000 to 5,000 mg can cause diarrhea, insomnia, and numbness in the hands and feet.

Special Intake of Vitamin B6

Individuals taking antidepressants, cortisone drugs, diuretics, hormone replacement therapy, or oral contraceptives have increased needs for vitamin B6. Because they do not metabolize the vitamin efficiently, elderly people and Individuals with celiac disease and diabetes also need higher levels of vitamin B6.

Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin B6

A deficiency of vitamin B6 can result in anemia, convulsions, headaches, nausea, flaky skin, a sore tongue, and vomiting. Other possible signs of deficiency include acne, anorexia, arthritis, conjunctivitis, cracks or sores on the mouth and lips, depression, dizziness, fatigue, hyperirritability, impaired wound healing, inflammation of the mouth and gums, learning difficulties, impaired memory or memory loss, hair loss, hearing problems, numbness, oily facial skin, stunted growth, and tingling sensations. Carpal tunnel syndrome has been linked to a deficiency of vitamin B6 as well.

Rich Food Sources of Vitamin B6

All foods contain some vitamin B6; however, the following foods have the highest amounts: brewer's yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ. Other sources include avocado, bananas, beans, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brown rice and other whole grains, cabbage, cantaloupe, com, plantains, potatoes, rice bran, soybeans, and tempeh. Herbs that contain vitamin B6 include alfalfa, catnip, and oat straw.


Antidepressants, estrogen therapy, and oral contraceptives may increase the need for vitamin B6. Diuretics and cortisone drugs block the absorption of this vitamin by the body. Prolonged use of high doses of vitamin B6 (over 1,000 milligrams per day) can be toxic, and may result in nerve damage and loss of coordination.

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