Mary Calvagna, MS
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in very limited amounts and are excreted through the urine, so it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet.
Vitamin B6's functions include:
Primary deficiency of vitamin B6 is rare—most foods contain the vitamin. Secondary deficiency may result in certain situations, including malabsorption, alcoholism, some medicines, and cigarette smoking. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:
The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for vitamin B6 from dietary sources and supplements combined is 100mg per day for adults. Symptoms of vitamin B6 toxicity include:
The following populations may be at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency and may require a supplement:
Homocysteine is an amino acid normally found in the blood. Studies have shown that elevated blood levels of homocysteine can be a risk factor for heart disease and
stroke. Because vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are required for the metabolism of homocysteine, it is thought that a deficiency of any of the three may increase the level of homocysteine in the blood. One would think that taking these vitamins as supplements may offer protection from heart disease. However, clinical trials do not support this idea.
There is evidence that high levels of B6 can help alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy.
To help increase your intake of vitamin B6:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Society for Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health website. Available at:
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb6.asp#h4. Accessed July 21, 2012.
Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 2, 2011. Accessed July 21, 2012.
Pyridoxine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed July 21, 2012.
Vitamin B6. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15&topicID=114. Updated August 2011. Accessed July 21, 2012.
Last reviewed July 2012 by Brian P. Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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