What is it?
Vitamin B6 is a water soluble nutrient and is measured in milligrams. It’s part of the vitamin B complex and it has many functions in the body.
|Function||How it helps|
|Absorption and metabolism of proteins||Vitamin B6 is the master vitamin for processing amino acids|
|Formation of red blood cells||Promotes red blood cell production.|
|Hormone production and regulation||B6 is needed to make the hormones serotonin, melatonin and dopamine and it helps maintain hormone balance. It has been shown to reduce blood levels of oestrogen, this is therefore considered particularly significant with regard to its success in the treatment of PMT.|
|Brain and nervous system activity||B6 is required for many brain functions, including the manufacture of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.|
When B6 intake is inadequate homocysteine levels in the blood rise. Homocysteine has been shown to accelerate free radical damage to blood vessel walls and is considered to be one of the major risk factors in heart disease.
|What is it used for?|
|Acne vulgaris||Morning sickness||Age-related cognitive decline||Stress (as a component of B-complex supplementation)|
|Amennorrhea||Premenstrual syndrome||Pregnancy and postpartum support||High homocysteine (in combination with folic acid and vitamin B12)|
|Anxiety and tension||Osteoporosis (to lower homocysteine)||Coronary arterial disease||Alzheimer’s disease (in combination with iron and co-Enzyme Q10)|
|Chronic Headaches||Dupuytren’s contracture||Epilepsy||psoriasis|
|Genetic anaemia||Kidney stones||Fibrocystic breast disease||Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid)|
|Autism||Type 1 diabetes||HIV support||Diabetic neuropathy|
|Mouth ulcers||Type 2 diabetes||Hypoglycaemia|
Best food sources
|Whole cereal grains||Turkey||Lentils & beans (especially soy)|
|Skin disorders||Dizziness||Impaired glucose tolerance|
|Sores in the mouth||Mental confusion||Hyperactivity|
|Anaemia||Seizures||Cracks in tongue and lips|
|Nervous tension & irritability||Pre-menstrual symptoms||Autism|
Supplementation dosage range
The most common supplemental intake is 10–25 mg per day. However, high amounts (100–200 mg per day or even more) may be recommended for certain conditions.
Vitamin B6 increases the bioavailability of magnesium, therefore these nutrients are sometimes taken together.
High doses of single B-vitamins may deplete other B-vitamins; therefore if high doses are required, supplementation with a multivitamin or B-complex is advised.
Vitamin B6 is considered safe up to 200mg per day for short-term use and up to 100mg per day for long-term use. At higher levels (i.e. over 500mg) people may experience numbness in their hands and feet due to nerve damamge, in which case supplementation should cease immediately.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women should not take more than 50mg of vitamin B6 per day without a doctor’s supervision. Vitamin B6 reduces secretion of prolactin, a hormone involved in breast milk production, so avoid higher doses of B6 during the last trimester of pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
If you take Levodopa you should limit your intake of vitamin B6 to less than 10mg per day.
At the time of writing there were no other well-known negative drug interactions with vitamin B6.
|Factors which deplete levels, impair absorption and/or inhibit activity:|
|Kidney failure||High protein intake||Antibiotics|
|Oral contraceptives||Vitamin B2 or magnesium deficiency||Artificial food dyes|
|Chronic fatigue syndrome||Diuretics||Corticosteroids|