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Vitamin B6

What is It?*

Source Type: Water-soluble vitamin

Source(s):

  • Naturally found in animal foods (meat, beef liver, fish, poultry, eggs)
  • Naturally found in plant foods (whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, starchy vegetables, bananas)
  • Fortified foods (breads, cereals, flour)
  • Chemically synthesized in labs

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B-complex group of vitamins. It is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is necessary for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as the production of neurotransmitters, hormones, and red blood cells.

Benefits*

Vitamin B6 is essential for converting the food we eat into usable energy for the body. It is also an important component of red blood cell production. Vitamin B6 has been claimed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. It has also been used to treat premenstrual syndrome and morning sickness during pregnancy.

Effectiveness*

Supplementation of B6 is highly effective for treating an inherited type of anemia called sideroblastic anemia. 

Vitamin B6 in combination with folic acid has been shown to be likely effective for treating high homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events and cognitive disorders. However, research has not yet found the same benefits in healthy individuals. More research is warranted.

Numerous studies have shown that vitamin B6 can improve symptoms of mild to moderate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In addition, taking vitamin B6 was shown to likely effective in improving PMS symptoms including breast pain.

Risks*

Vitamin B6 is generally considered safe when taken at recommended doses. But, excessive intake of vitamin B6 from supplements can lead to adverse effects. High doses of B6 can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches, and increased sensitivity to light. Long-term use of high-dose vitamin B6 supplements (typically exceeding 200 mg/day) can lead to nerve damage, known as sensory neuropathy.

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