Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin also known as pyridoxal-5-phosphate and pyridoxine hydrochloride. It is part of the B complex group and essential for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism, production of red blood cells and nervous system function.
Why you may need vitamin B6
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – vitamin B6 has been clinically proven to be of benefit to patients with premenstrual symptoms in particular anxiety and depression.
Asthma – low vitamin B6 levels has been found in adults with asthma. This may be due to use of theophylline, a medication that relieves bronchial spasm. Vitamin B6 reduces nervousness, a side-effect of theophylline as well as the severity and frequency of asthma attacks.
Diabetes – in studies with patients with low vitamin B6 levels, diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms were eliminated when vitamin B6 was supplemented.
Atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease – vitamin B6 has been shown to reduce homocysteine concentrations a substance shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Morning sickness – vitamin B6 has been shown to decrease vomiting and severe nausea.
Kidney stones – vitamin B6 may decrease urinary oxalate levels in people with high urinary oxalate.
How much do you need?
Recommended Daily Intake
Adults (19-50 years): 1.3mg daily
Adults (50 and over): 1.5mg (women), 1.7mg (men) daily
Pregnancy: 1.9mg daily
Breastfeeding: 2.0mg daily
Children 9-13 years: 1.0mg daily
Children 14-18 years: 1.2mg (girls), 1.3mg (boys) daily
Symptoms of deficiency
A deficiency or abundance of a single B vitamin may cause problems in the metabolism of other B group vitamins. Dermatitis, swollen (especially the corners) cracked bright red lips and inflamed tongue are common for general B vitamin deficiency.
In addition vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms include weakness, restlessness, nervousness, depression, dizziness, dermatitis, muscle twitching, peripheral neuropathy and seizures.
The best dietary sources of vitamin B6 include: brewer’s yeast, beef liver, banana, avocado, watermelon, spinach, potato, soybeans, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, turkey and tuna.
Other reasons why you may need more
Vitamin B6 is affected by food processing and storage.
There are some factors and conditions that increase the need for vitamin B6 these include malabsorption disorders such as coeliac disease, excessive intakes of coffee, alcohol, tea or cigarettes
- Where you are consuming the recommended daily intake there are no problems with adverse effects. However many conditions do require higher dosages in order to get a response. Adults taking over 100mg a day should be monitored. Though studies are conflicting one trial showed that doses of 100–150mg daily for over five to 10 years was not associated with any problems while another showed that 117mg daily for three years was associated with nerve damage such as numbness and tingling.
- Megadoses of 500–5000mg daily can lead to peripheral neuropathy over a one to three year period.
- The symptoms due to excessive use of vitamin B6 include: peripheral neuropathy, unsteady gait, numbness and tingling in feet and hands, loss of limb reflexes, poor coordination, impaired or absent tendon reflexes, sensitivity to light, dizziness, nausea, breast tenderness and worsening of acne.