Learn the nine benefits of vitamin B6, as well as the signs of vitamin B6 deficiency and toxicity.
Vitamin B6 is known to be associated with various health benefits, which include:
- Prevention of the risk of heart disease and stroke: High blood homocysteine levels can be a predisposing factor for heart disease and stroke because it contributes to making the blood viscous. Abnormal homocysteine levels promote the formation of blood clots and excess free radical cells. Vitamin B6 is a homocysteine antagonist, and it lowers cholesterol levels. However, taking vitamin B6 supplements frequently doesn’t show any significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events. Many researchers have advocated using vitamin B6 along with folic acid and vitamin B12 to prevent heart and blood vessel diseases. However, studies have reported that this combination doesn’t reduce the risk or severity of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
- Treats sideroblastic anemia: Sideroblastic anemia refers to a condition in which the body makes abnormal red blood cells, leading to the accumulation of excess iron in the body. Excess iron interferes with the normal functioning of hemoglobin. Studies have supported that vitamin B6 when taken as supplements or through food is effective in treating both acquired and inherited types of sideroblastic anemia.
- May help treat nausea during pregnancy: Vitamin B6 is an ingredient used for treating nausea during pregnancy. The exact reason behind the effectiveness of B6 in relieving nausea and vomiting is still unknown. A study has reported that a daily supplement of 30 mg of vitamin B6 may significantly alleviate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. More studies have confirmed the result of using B6 supplements to prevent nausea and vomiting. Based on these studies, it is clear that vitamin B6 is effective in decreasing the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Over-the-counter vitamin B6 and B6 with doxylamine have been concluded as safer medicine for the treatment of pregnancy-related nausea.
- May alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS): PMS refers to a group of symptoms that occur typically between ovulation and a period. It occurs mainly due to the fluctuation in hormones during the menstrual cycle. Some of the symptoms of PMS such as depression and anxiety can be relieved using pyridoxine. Some studies report that the use of vitamin B6 might reduce PMS symptoms, but these studies are of low quality. More research on the safety and effectiveness of vitamin B6 in diminishing PMS symptoms is required to use it judiciously in relieving PMS symptoms. Some of the PMS symptoms relieved by B6 supplementation include:
- Breast tenderness
- Anxiety and mood swings
- Promotes brain function: Abnormal homocysteine levels may pave way for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline. Because vitamin B6 reduces homocysteine levels, B6 supplements were thought to promote brain function. However, a review found unsatisfactory evidence of the effects of vitamin B6 supplementation alone or in combination with vitamin B12 and/or folic acid on cognitive function in people with normal cognitive function, dementia, or ischemic vascular disease. Most studies considered in this review were of low quality and limited applicability. Hence, more studies are required to determine the effectiveness of vitamin B6 supplements in treating cognitive decline in elderly people.
- Help build a stronger immune system: Vitamin B6 produces antibodies that fight against viral, bacterial, fungal, or other types of infections. It helps produce new red and white blood cells, which are essential to promote the immune system. Consuming foods abundant in vitamin B6 will help the body defend against infection. Several researchers have associated low levels of vitamin B6 with weak immune responses in older adults.
- May help prevents cancer: Studies have reported that obtaining vitamin B6 through the diet may have a cancer-protective effect. However, supplements may not prevent cancer or alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. A review has shown that dietary intake of vitamin B6 may be associated with a low risk of colorectal cancer. Individuals with the highest B6 levels in the blood are at a 50 percent less risk of colorectal cancer.
- May prevent kidney stones: Taking oral vitamin B6 as monotherapy or supplementing it with magnesium can reduce the risk of kidney stones. It may be especially effective in people with an inherited condition that causes kidney stones.
- Improves mood: A lack of B6 is associated with depression and various other mood disorders. Vitamin B6 is essential to produce serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for mood elevation, and hence, consuming adequate vitamin B6 through the diet may be beneficial in an uplifting mood.
What are the signs of vitamin B6 deficiency and toxicity?
Taking large doses of vitamin B6, probably more than 100 mg, can cause these adverse effects:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Sun sensitivity
- A lack of muscle control or coordination
- A hard time sensing pain or extreme temperatures
Similarly, vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to these symptoms:
- Mouth and tongue sores, also known as glossitis
- Peripheral neuropathy
What is the recommended amount of vitamin B6?
Dietary reference intakes for vitamin B6 in different age groups are as follows:
|Age Group||Recommended Amount|
|0 to 6 months||0.1* milligrams per day (mg/day)|
|7 to 12 months||0.3* mg/day|
|1 to 3 years||0.5 mg/day|
|4 to 8 years||0.6 mg/day|
|9 to 13 years||1.0 mg/day|
|Adolescents and adults (RDA)|
|Men aged 14 to 50 years||1.3 mg/day|
|Men older than 50 years||1.7 mg/day|
|Women aged 14 to 18 years||1.2 mg/day|
|Women aged 19 to 50 years||1.3 mg/day|
|Women older than 50 years||1.5 mg/day|
|Women of all ages||1.9 mg/day during pregnancy and 2.0 mg/day during lactation|
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Medically Reviewed on 7/14/2022
Image Source: iStock image
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