Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates and is essential for haemoglobin in the blood. It is involved in the regulation of mental function and mood as well as in the metabolism of homocysteine, high levels of which are a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin B6 uses
Health claims about vitamins are regulated by the European Food Safety Authority.
It has approved claims for B6, including:
- Contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
- Contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system
- Contributes to normal psychological function
- Contributes to normal red blood cell formation
- Contributes to the normal function of the immune system
- Contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity
It did not support claims that B6 could maintain normal teeth, bones, hair, skin and nails.
Studies looking at the possible protective role of vitamin B6 in preventing or improving mood and cognitive function in the elderly, including Alzheimer’s disease, have not found a short-term benefit.
Other studies suggesting that vitamin B6 supplementation might improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in some women were inconclusive. The same conclusions were drawn by studies looking at the role of vitamin B6 in cancer and heart disease.
Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements might help with nausea and vomiting ( morning sickness) during pregnancy. These should always be taken under medical supervision.
Vitamin B6 supplements can help people who have an actual deficiency. Vitamin B6 deficiency presents with scaly rashes, swollen tongue, numbness, difficulty in walking, anaemia, depression and confusion. People with alcohol dependency, kidney problems including dialysis or auto immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, are more likely to have low levels of vitamin B6.
High levels of vitamin B6 due to long-term supplementation can lead to loss of feeling in the arms and legs, and skin rashes. These symptoms will improve after stopping taking the vitamin B6 supplement.
Vitamin B6 dose and instructions for use
The NHS says that the recommended adult daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.4mg a day for men and 1.2mg a day for women. Vitamin B6 supplementation in pregnancy is not necessary and high doses might lead to harm. You should be able to get all the vitamin B6 you need from your diet.
Vitamin B6 food sources
Sources of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are:
- Meat (pork, poultry) and offal
- Whole grains (oatmeal, rice)
- Fortified cereals and breads
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes
- Legumes like peanuts, soya beans,
- Fresh fruit except citrus
Vitamin B6 supplement information
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) usually comes in capsules or tablets. It is usually available in combination with other types of vitamin B or in vitamin B complex supplements.
Like any supplement, keep vitamin B6 supplements in a cool, dry place, away from humidity and direct sunlight.
Vitamin B6 warnings
- Side-effects and risks: high doses of vitamin B6 supplements can cause nerve damage if taken long term, skin rashes and sensitivity to sunlight, and nausea. There have been reports of allergies to vitamin B6 supplements but these are extremely rare.
- Possible interactions with some antibiotics, antiepilepsy drugs, theophilline, amiodarone, and levodopa (used to treat Parkinson’s disease).
- Do not exceed the recommended daily dose of 10mg vitamin B6 supplement except on medical advice.