Vitamins play a crucial role in supporting health and wellbeing. Among these is Vitamin B6, a water soluble B-complex vitamin that delivers multiple advantages. This article takes a look at the most significant health benefits of vitamin B6 such as cognitive function, improved immunity, hormonal balance, cardiovascular health, skin health and pregnancy. We also examine recommended dosage, side effects and safety precautions.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin that is also known as pyridoxine. It may also be referred to as pyridoxamine or pyridoxal. Since water soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Unlike fat soluble nutrients, the body has no means of storing them so they have to be ingested regularly. Surplus amounts are discharged by the body in urine. It contributes to over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body.
The body uses it to convert food nutrients into energy, generate red blood cells, form DNA+RNA
and to get rid of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, when present in large amounts, places us at significant risk of heart disease. Actually, vitamin B6 is the primary vitamin for the processing of amino acids.
Vitamin B6 deficiency may cause:
Vitamin B6 is present in a wide range of everyday foods including:
It is also available as a dietary supplement.
Vitamin B6 has a number of health benefits but the following are some of the ones that stand out.
Vitamin B6 supports the production of dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that relay messages between nerve cells) vital for mood regulation, psychological wellbeing and efficient brain function. This helps lower the risk of mood disorders, cognitive decline, anxiety and depression.
As we will see further down this article, vitamin B6 deficiency is accompanied by nervous system disorders such as migraine, seizures, depression and chronic pain. A considerable proportion of vitamin B6’s benefit to cognitive function comes down to its ability to regulate homocysteine. In a 2002 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found increased homocysteine levels were a strong risk factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Immune System Boost
Vitamin B6 strengthens the immune system by supporting production of red blood cells, white blood cells and antibodies. It aids the body’s ability to identify and repel germs while keeping diseases at bay.
In a 2021 review published in the Nutrients journal, scientists found that vitamin B6 deficiency was associated with a number of medical conditions such as inflammation (including rheumatoid), pneumonia, COVID-19, cancer and diabetes.
Homocysteine, an amino acid, can cause cardiovascular illness if present in large amounts for extended periods. Vitamin B6 lowers homocysteine and strengthens blood vessels. In a clinical trial published in the Lancet in 2000, vitamin B6 supplementation consistently showed a decrease in the occurrence of atherosclerosis.
Also, vitamin B6 deficiency is itself a risk factor for heart disease. In a 2006 study published in the Nutrition journal, researchers identified a strong association between vitamin B6 deficiency and the risk of coronary heart disease.
Vitamin B6 is crucial for the regulation of a wide range of hormones such as those associated with sleep, stress, appetite and metabolism. These include:
- serotonin and
In women, it maintains hormonal balance during the menstrual cycle including blunting the effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). A 1989 trial in The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners found subjects on vitamin B6 had lower risk of irritability, depression and fatigue.
Pregnancy and Morning Sickness
The body’s nutrient needs increase during pregnancy to accommodate the requirements of both the mother and the fetus. It tempers the symptoms of morning sickness, something it has been used for for decades. Take the 2007 controlled trial published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand reported vitamin B6 was accompanied by reduced vomiting and nausea.
Vitamin B6 also aids the healthy development of the baby’s brain and lowers the likelihood of neural tube defects. The neural tube is the precursor to brain and spine development.
Vitamin B6 improves production of collagen, an important protein in wound healing and skin elasticity. It also aids the treatment and management of eczema, acne and other skin conditions. In a 2006 study in the Biofactors journal, vitamin B6 deficiency in rats was accompanied by collagen suppression causing lesions.
Also, by regulating hormones, vitamin B6 takes care of one of the key causes of skin breakouts.
Recommended Daily Intake
Vitamin B6’s recommended daily intake varies by gender and age. For most adults, the ideal dosage is 1.3 to 1.7 mg per day. However, the recommended intake for pregnant women is 1.9 to 2 mg.
Precautions and Side Effects
Taken in the right amounts, vitamin B6 is good for the body. In excessive amounts however, it can cause a number of side effects. These include mild to moderate ones such as headache, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and skin rash. In more severe cases, too much vitamin B6 may cause peripheral neuropathy possibly due to nerve damage. The potentially hazardous upper limit varies by age. For adults including pregnant women, it is 50 mg per day.
Vitamin B6 plays multiple roles in human health. We have covered the most significant ones such as cognitive function, cardiovascular illness, immunity, hormonal balance, skin health and pregnancy. While supplements can help reach your daily intake requirements, they are not a replacement for a healthy diet.