Vitamin B6 Benefits, Sources and Deficiency

Vitamin B6 is one of the eight water-soluble B vitamins. It was originally isolated in the mid-1930. Vitamin B6 has the maximum number of chemical structures – all begin with the letters “pyr,” and include pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxamine (PM), pyridoxine phosphate (PNP), pyridoxal phosphate (PLP), and pyridoxamine phosphate (PMP). PLP is the most active coenzyme form, and has the maximum importance in human metabolism

This vitamin was initially not known by this name, but was referred to as the “antidermatitis factor.” This was because, it was noticed that skin inflammation (dermatitis) increased whenever there was a decrease in intake of foods containing Vitamin B6.

Benefits of vitamin B6

* Pyridoxine helps in the proper functioning of the cells of the nervous and muscular system.

* Pyridoxine is also known as a “woman’s vitamin” because it helps relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as pre-menstrual fluid retention, severe period pains, emotional PMS symptoms, premenstrual acne, and nausea/vomiting in early pregnancy. It also helps balance hormonal changes in women.

* It aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material.

* B6 also helps in the movement of sulfur-containing molecules around the body, as that is very important for hormonal balance and elimination of toxic substances through the liver.

* It is essential for the proper absorption of vitamin B12; as well as for the production of red blood cells (haemoglobin). Vitamin B6 also helps increase the amount of oxygen carried by haemoglobin.

* B6 is also an “anti-stress” vitamin because it improves the activity of the immune system, and develops the body’s ability to resist stressful situations.

* Pyridoxine is considered beneficial for children with difficulty in learning, as well as assisting in the
prevention of dandruff, eczema and psoriasis.

* It helps maintain sodium and potassium balance in the body. Supposed to provide immunity against cancer and resist the formation of the toxic chemical homocysteine, which increases the risk of cardio-vascular diseases.

* Mood swings, irritability, depression as well as loss of sexual drive may be at times linked to B6 deficiency.

* It helps maintain the health of the lymphoid system (thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes) that produces white blood cells in the body. A vitamin B6 deficiency can decrease a person’s antibody production and suppress immune response altogether.

* Vitamin B6 is also very important for the conversion of tryptophan (an amino acid) to niacin (vitamin B3).

* Hemoglobin within red blood cells carries oxygen to tissues. Your body needs vitamin B6 to make hemoglobin. A vitamin B6 deficiency can result in a form of anemia that is similar to iron deficiency anemia.

* Vitamin B6 also helps maintain the blood glucose (sugar) within a normal range. When caloric intake is less, the body uses vitamin B6 to help convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Dosage of Vitamin B 6

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6 (in milligrams) is –

* 1.3 mg for men and women under age 50

* 1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women over the age of 50

* 1.9 mg for pregnant women, and

* 2 mg for lactating women.

Vitamin B6 can be found as multivitamins, B complex vitamins.

People who eat a balanced diet containing good sources of vitamin B6 should be able to meet the daily requirement without taking a supplement.

Vitamin B6 supplements should always be taken with water, preferably after a meal.

Deficiency of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms are quite similar to those of B2 and B3, as B6 is needed by the body to manufacture its own B3 vitamin.

* The skin is among the first to show up deficiency of Vitamin B6. Many skin disorders have been associated with B6 deficiency, such as eczema, acne, allergies and seborrheic dermatitis. . Symptoms may include nails that are uneven, a sore tongue (glossitis) as well as changes in bones – which can include osteoporosis and arthritis.

* Kidney stones may also appear.

* Irritability, nervousness and insomnia as well as general weakness are other associated symptoms.

* Neural problems also erupt when there is a lack of Vitamin B6. Symptoms can include convulsions, confusion, and seizures in the case of severe deficiency.

* Other deficiency related problems include anemia, depression, and fatigue. When anaemia is entirely related to B6 deficiency, it is usually classified as pernicious anaemia.

Who are at risk of Vitamin B6 deficiency?

Vitamin B6 deficiency usually occurs in individuals who eat poor quality food that is scarce in many nutrients. Symptoms usually occur during later stages of deficiency, when the poor intake has prolonged for quite some time.

Alcoholics and older adults are more likely to have inadequate vitamin B6 intake. Alcohol promotes the destruction and loss of vitamin B6 from the body.

Some asthmatic children treated with a particular drug, may need to take a vitamin B6 supplement.

Rich dietary sources of Vitamin B6

Good dietary sources of vitamin B6 include chicken, tuna, salmon, shrimp, brewer’s yeast, lentils, soyabean, nuts, peas, walnuts, bananas, peanut butter, carrots, brown rice, bran, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and whole-grain flour.

Pyridoxine is sensitive to sunlight; cooking and processing, so watch out while cooking!
Exercising may aid the production of the active form of vitamin B6.

Do medications affect vitamin B6?

Some prescription medications lead to depletion of the body’s B6. These medications include birth control pills and oral estrogens; diuretics, anti-epileptic drugs, asthma-related drugs, tuberculosis drugs and anti-fibrotic drugs.