Vitamin B 6 Facts

The best source of vitamin B6 is through the foods you eat.

Understanding vitamin B 6 facts not only helps you to know why and how to include it in your diet, but makes you aware of symptoms to look for if you're not getting enough. It is an essential vitamin for good health.

Quick Vitamin B 6 Facts

A few quick facts may pique your interest:

  • Adequate B6 intake may reduce heart disease risk.
  • B6 helps increase oxygen carried by hemoglobin.
  • B6 is essential for red blood cell metabolism
  • Large doses of vitamin B6 can lead to permanent nerve damage
  • Our bodies need vitamin B6 to break down protein
  • The body needs B6 to make hemoglobin
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a form of anemia
  • Vitamin B6,is important to the health of the immune system
  • Vitamin B 6 is a water-soluble vitamin present in three major chemical forms:
    • pyridoxine
    • pyridoxal
    • pyridoxamine

Relationship of B6 to Protein

Vitamin B6 carries out a broad spectrum of functions within the body. In fact, it is necessary for over 100 enzymes needed in protein metabolism. When you study vitamin B 6 facts, you'll find that early research showed that diets with reduced B6 intake brought about abnormalities of tryptophan or methionine metabolism. On the other side of the spectrum, people who took in more B6 showed graded improvement coinciding with their intake. This is because our bodies use B6 to make important proteins.

How Much Vitamin B6 Is Right For You?

There is some disagreement about whether or not B6 supplements are needed. The general consensus is that most of us do get enough vitamin B6 in our diets, so supplements are not often needed. If you think you need a B6 supplement, it is best to talk to your doctor before taking it. Ask him or her about the right dosage for you or whether or not you should even take it because while eating foods high in B6 is good for you, taking large supplemental doses can lead to nerve damage which can be permanent. General guidelines recommend keeping your B6 intake to less than 100 mg daily. This includes B6 from both dietary sources as well as supplements. However, as we age, our need for vitamin B6 increases, and 1.9 mg is the RDA for pregnant women, and it goes up to 2.0 mg for lactating women. In any case, it is best to talk to your doctor about vitamin B6 supplementation.

Sources of Vitamin B6

The best source of vitamin B6 is through the foods you eat. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include:

  • Avocado (raw)
  • Baked potato (flesh and skin)
  • Bananas
  • Fish
  • Fortified cereals
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lima beans
  • Meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Poultry
  • Spinach
  • Soybeans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tomato juice
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat bran

Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency

While vitamin B6 deficiency is not common in the United States, it can occur in people with poor dietary habits. Symptoms don't show up until the deficiency is prolonged. They include:

  • Anemia
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Sore tongue

If you or someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your health care provider for a proper diagnosis and medical care.

Should You Take B6 Supplements

Since most of us easily get enough B6 in our diets, then who should take B6 supplements? We've already seen that people with poor diets are likely candidates, and this spreads to sectors within society who tend to have poorer eating habits. This includes:

  • Alcoholics (Alcohol also helps to deplete B6 from the body)
  • Asthmatic children who take theophylline because it too depletes stores of B6 from the body
  • Elderly

The body does need B6 and in most cases your diet supplies it. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says, "Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. […]dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet." This is another example of the difference a healthy diet can make in an individual's overall well-being.

Vitamin B 6 Facts