Vitamin B6 is among the most famous and important vitamins in the body. Its role is multidimensional, as it participates as a coenzyme in over 100 biochemical reactions such as energy production and protein metabolism.
What is vitamin B6?
It is a water-soluble vitamin, which belongs to the B complex vitamins. The term vitamin B6 does not refer to a single molecule but to a group of molecules such as pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine, which are taken up by food but are inactive forms. The body rapidly convert them to their active form, pyridoxal 5 ‘phosphate (PLP) and pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate (PMP).
Vitamin B6 plays a very fundamental role in the metabolism of proteins and fats. It participates in energy production, cell proliferation, central nervous system function as well as hematopoiesis. In addition, it is involved in the production of hormones that use essential fatty acids as a substrate (eg. prostaglandins).
The richest sources of vitamin B6 are fish, beef liver, potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits (other than citrus fruits) as well as fortified cereals. Vitamin B6 is resistant to heat, with high (~ 75%) bioavailability.
Lack of vitamin B6 and symptoms
Because of its abundance and its high bioavailability, vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively rare. Reduced levels of B6 are usually present in cases of low levels of vitamins of B complex, especially when there are reduced levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid. Malabsorption of vitamin B6 and thereby deficiency can occur in cases of colitis, celiac and Crohn’s disease, as well as in genetic diseases such as homocystinuria.
Vitamin B6 deficiency leads to anemia, dermatitis such as lesion and glossitis, depression, confusion, weak immune system as well as abnormalities in the electroencephalogram.
Actions and properties
As a coenzyme, vitamin B6 participates in many functions and biochemical reactions of the organism (over 100).
It participates in the development and function of the brain as well as in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. According to studies, vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to memory disorders as well as cognitive impairment and is associated with the occurrence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.
In addition to cerebral function, vitamin B6 appears to be associated with the onset of depression and anxiety. The reason is that it is involved in the production of serotonin and GABA, hormones that play a crucial role in mood.
Vitamin B6 is essential for the production of hemoglobin in the blood, which transports iron molecules as well as oxygen to tissues through blood circulation. Deficiency of vitamin B6 results in microcytic anemia.
Some studies have shown that taking vitamin B6 supplements helps reduce blood pressure in those who have high values. The reason is that vitamin B6 increases blood flow and reduces build-up in the walls of the vessels.
As vitamin B6 affects the production of neurotransmitters which are responsible for managing pain, blood flow, and production of certain hormones, it is believed to help manage premenstrual syndrome. In studies where vitamin B6 was administered via supplement, it was found that symptoms of the syndrome, such as mood swings, nausea and pain, decreased significantly.
Nausea in pregnancy
Studies have shown that pyridoxine may reduce nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy (nausea and vomiting). According to the recommendations, the supplemental administration of vitamin B6 is indicated 3-4 times a day in doses of 10-25 mg.
High levels of homocysteine are associated with inflammation and the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and thrombosis. Vitamin B6 along with vitamin B12 and folic acid help reduce homocysteine levels and reduce cardiovascular risk.
Recommended dose and supplements
The daily recommended intake of vitamin B6 is 1.3mg, however, needs vary based on age and the stage of development. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, so it cannot be stored in the body with excess being excreted very quickly through the urine. This means that food rich in vitamin B6 should be consumed daily to meet recommended needs.
Vitamin B6 supplementation can be either in multivitamin formulas, in B complex formulas or even as vitamin B6. It is recommended to be taken along with other B complex vitamins for better absorption and action. Dietary supplements are usually available in the form of pyridoxine hydrochloride in capsules, tablets or even in liquid form.
Contraindications and interactions
Vitamin B6 interacts with certain medications by reducing their activity while some drugs can affect vitamin B6 levels. People taking antibiotics, antidepressants, have Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, anemia or cardiovascular disease are recommended to contact their physician before taking vitamin B6 supplements.
Supplements of vitamin B6 can be found in Vita4you.