One cannot deny the importance of vitamins in our body. Though all vitamins are important and play a vital role in proper body functions, vitamin B6 steals extra limelight as it is essentially required for supreme functions of sugars, fats, and proteins within the body mainly. There is so much more to it, let’s get started:
What is Vitamin B6 and where does it come from?
Vitamin B6 is a vitamin that enhances the growth and development of the brain, nerves, skin, and other organs of the body.
Another name for vitamin B6 is Pyridoxine and it plays a requisite role in more than 100 enzyme reactions that are involved in normal metabolism as well as plays a crucial role in forming RBC and neurotransmitters
This astounding vitamin was first discovered by Gyorgy and colleagues in 1934. Its active compound of this vitamin was first isolated by Samuel Lepovsky in 1938. Whereas, in 1939 Folkers and Stanton Harris formulated the Pyridoxine structure.
Paul Gyorgy observed that this pyridoxine is capable of curing many skin diseases. After this discovery, many other researchers followed and in 1945, Snell was able to discover 2 forms of vitamin B6 i-e. Pyridoxal and Pyridoxamine.
Food sources of Vitamin B6
Naturally, this vitamin is found in many foods including poultry, fish, and meat. This vitamin is abundantly distributed in many food products, both in free and bounded forms. Some of the foods that have a high content of vitamin B6 are as follows:
- Fortified breakfast cereal
- Dark chocolate
There are bacteria in our stomach that are naturally capable of making vitamin B6.
Recommended dietary allowances for Vitamin B6
Following dietary allowances of vitamin B6 are for different age groups:
|Children 0-6 months||0.1 mg/day|
|Children 7-12 months||0.3 mg/day|
|Children 1-3 years||0.5 mg/day|
|Children 4-8 years||0.6 mg/day|
|Children 9-13 years||1 mg/day|
|Adults 14-50 years||1.3 mg/day|
|Adults 50 years and above||1.7 mg/day|
|Pregnant women||1.9 mg/day|
|Breastfeeding mothers||2 mg/day|
Benefits of Vitamin B6
The surprising benefits of this vitamin B6 are as follows:
- Healthy Blood Vessels: An important amino acid called homocysteine which we get from a protein-rich diet is utterly important in maintaining the health of our blood vessels but only when it is present in the required amount. If this homocysteine level increases the required level, it can cause heart diseases, cardiovascular complications, and inflammation. A study revealed that an adequate amount of vitamin B6 when taken along with folic acid, significantly helps in lowering the homocysteine level within the body and prevents any risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as maintains the health of blood vessels. In older age, people suffer from problems like thickening and hardening of blood vessels, whereas, vitamin B6 along with folate keeps the blood vessels soft which allows free movement of blood and other nutrients throughout the body.
- Nausea During Pregnancy: A research held in 2016 reported that when women feel nausea during pregnancy, pyridoxine is greatly helpful in treating the mild symptoms of vomiting and nausea. It was also found that pyridoxine along with doxylamine might treat moderate symptoms of nausea and vomiting. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggested that vitamin B6 supplements are safe to take during pregnancy.
- Brain Health: A conflicting research concluded that vitamin B6 supplements greatly improve brain function as well as keep the homocysteine level low which reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. A random study carried on 400 adults, found that vitamin B6 along with folic acid significantly improves the functions of the brain and also diminishes the risk of Alzheimer’s. But all these studies are not confirmed and more research is needed to prove that vitamin B6 supplements are helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment. Another study found that vitamin B6 aids in the development of neurotransmitters that act as chemical messengers within the brain that transmits messages from the brain to all parts of the body.
- Hemoglobin Production and Anemia Treatment: Hemoglobin that is present in our blood, transports oxygen to our cells and aids in the proper functioning of all body organs. But when a person is anemic, they have low hemoglobin levels in the cells which makes them weak and tired. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine intake plays a requisite role in the production of hemoglobin and preventing anemia especially in pregnant women. It is recommended that a pregnant woman should take 75 mg of vitamin B6 so that symptoms of anemia can be eliminated. A medical history of a 75 years old woman stated that the most active form of vitamin B6 supplements improved the symptoms of anemia deficiency. Therefore, it can be manifested that vitamin B6 consumption on a daily basis can lead to a lower risk of anemia during pregnancy as well as in older women.
- Symptoms of PMS: Premenstrual syndrome of PMS includes anxiety, depression, and irritability. Researchers suggested that if premenopausal women keep on taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily, there will be a significant improvement in the symptoms of depression, irritability, and anxiety by 69%. Another study suggested that 50mg of vitamin B6 alongside 200 mg of magnesium per day, tremendously diminishes PMS symptoms with the passage of age and time. But all these surveys and studies were carried on a small number of people and for a short duration. More research is needed to prove the safety and effectiveness of vitamin B6 in impairing the risks of PMS. But the dose of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine should be the lowest as the high level of this vitamin can cause negative side effects and eliminate the beneficial effects.
- Prevents Eye Diseases: Adults face many health issues in which eye diseases are most common. A special kind of eye disease in adults called Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can be prevented by regular intake of vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. When homocysteine level in blood increases, it causes inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, and more likely eye diseases especially AMD. A study conducted on 5400 females for seven years, concluded that taking vitamin B6 supplements along with vitamin B12 and folic acid largely reduces AMD threat by 35%-40% as vitamin B6 reduces the homocysteine level within the body which in return keeps the heart and eyes away from any kind of harm.
- Arthritis Prevention: Older people tend to suffer from many joint pains or bone-related health issues. Many doctors suggest that these joint pains are because of vitamin B6 deficiency. A bone disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis is related to vitamin B6 deficiency. A small study carried out on 36 adults for 30 days, proved that 50mg of vitamin B6 supplements daily, reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and also inflammatory molecules within the body.
Side effects of Vitamin B6
Excess of everything is bad and the same is the case with vitamin B6. Excess of this vitamin is also harmful and has negative effects. It is found that consuming more than 1000 mg of vitamin B6 supplements might cause:
- Nerve damage
- Pain or numbness in feet or hands
Due to these problems, the limit of vitamin B6 intake is 100 mg per day for adults.
This amazing water-soluble vitamin can be obtained from food sources or supplements, as it is essential for brain neurotransmitters and regulates homocysteine levels inside the body. This vitamin B6 has tremendously amazing health benefits but only when consumed in an amount that is recommended for a certain age group by the food experts.