Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in many foods. It is also added to foods and supplements. Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP) is the active coenzyme form and most common measure of B6 blood levels in the body. PLP is a coenzyme that assists more than 100 enzymes to perform various functions. The function includes the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It then maintains normal levels of homocysteine and supports immune function and brain health.
The function of Vitamin B6
- It plays a key role in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis.
- Vitamin B6 work in the metabolism of nutrients, synthesis and function of histamines, hemoglobin, neurotransmitters, and also in the expression of genes. Hence, it may maintain the perfect body metabolism.
- It synthesizes amino acids and proteins and helps in the formation of the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves.
- Vitamin B6 plays a role to the body in breaking down food i.e. complex carbohydrates into simple forms of sugar i.e. glucose, fats, and proteins. That is turn provides energy for carrying out various bodily activities. Hence, it accelerates the energy distribution and formation for the cells to perform better metabolism.
Deficiency of vitamin B6
- Microcytic anemia
- Skin conditions
- Lowered immunity
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune intestinal disorders like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
- Autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
Sources of vitamin B6
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals
- Some vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, bananas, papayas, oranges, and cantaloupe.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men ages 14-50 years is 1.3 mg daily and 1.7 mg for 51+ years. The RDA for women ages 14-18 years is 1.2 mg; 19-50 years, 1.3 mg; and 51+ years, 1.5 mg. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 1.9 mg mcg and 2.0 mg, respectively.
It is quite unlikely to reach a toxic level of vitamin B6 from food sources alone. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Hence, the unused amounts will exit the body through the urine. However, a toxic level can occur from long-term very high dose supplementation of greater than 1,000 mg daily. Symptoms usually subside after stopping the high dosage. Symptoms include:
- Neuropathy in feet and hands
- Ataxia (loss of control of body movements)