Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) has many health benefits. Scientific evidence shows that vitamin B6 may help prevent coronary heart disease by helping reduce blood levels of the animo acid homocysteine. Studies show B6 is also beneficial in alleviating mood swings and depression, PMS, asthma and fatigue.
Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
A deficiency of vitamin B6 is rare as this vitamin is readily available in many food sources. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency may include skin disorders and inflammation of the tongue and mucous membranes of the mouth. In addition, a deficiency of vitamin B6 may cause dizziness, weakness and anemia. Convulsions may also occur, especially in infants.
Vitamin B6 also helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which help balance moods. Vitamin B6 has long been known as being beneficial for mood swings and depression. Depression, irritability, and mood swings may be indicative of a deficiency of vitamin B6.
Recommended Daily Allowances and B6-Rich Foods
Vitamin B6 is found in a variety of foods, though most of them contain a low level of this nutrient. The richest food sources of B6 are meats such as beef, liver, pork and poultry. Eggs, peanuts, peas, spinach, walnuts, and wheat germ are also significant sources. Dairy products and most fruits and vegetables contain a small amount of vitamin B6, but are not a rich source.
The Optimal Daily Allowance for vitamin B6 for adults is four to 10 milligrams. While it is possible to get enough vitamin B6 through diet alone, most individuals fail to reach the recommended daily allowance without taking a supplement. The nutrient is generally safe up to 500 milligrams a day. It is important not to take excessive amounts of vitamin B6. Toxicity may cause neurological problems such as skin rash, numbness in the hands and feet and difficulty walking.
Who is at Risk for Vitamin B6 Deficiency?
Certain lifestyle choices, such as drinking or taking oral contraceptives, may affect the amount of vitamin B6 the body is able to absorb.
Individuals who many be at risk of a vitamin B6 deficiency include:
- oral contraceptive users
- heavy drinkers
- pregnant or breast-feeding women
- people on high protein diets
- people taking certain medications such as isoniazid, hydralazine, or penicillamine
Though it is possible to consume the Optimal Daily Allowance of vitamin B6 through diet alone, many people, especially those at risk, might benefit by taking a daily supplement.