We Need to Talk About Vitamin B6
Most of us don’t have a clue about Vitamin B6. That’s because instances of severe B6 deficiency are rare. The operative word here is ‘severe’; note that you are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B6 than many other B vitamins, but this deficiency is unlikely to be significant.
That is, of course, not to say that B6 is less important than the other seven B vitamins. In fact, all eight B vitamins work together to facilitate carbohydrate metabolism, and deficiency of one can adversely affect the overall process. Let’s examine the role of B6 in particular.
Why does your body need B6?
Your body needs enough B6 to absorb vitamin B12, which plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells and the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. B6, B12 and folic acid (another B vitamin that helps the body produce and maintain cells) are closely related in their biochemical pathways, which are basically a series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell.
The protective effects of B6 include:
• Improving premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Lowering risk of macular degeneration
• Reducing symptoms of depression
• Alleviating effects of carpal tunnel syndrome
• Controlling homocysteine levels to address risk of coronary heart disease
What are the sources of B6?
Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin found in our body and in a variety of food sources.
If you eat a balanced diet every day, there’s a good chance that you may be getting your fill of B6. Check out the large representation of meat, vegetable, fruit and food grains below:
• Tuna, chicken, beef liver, turkey, salmon and shrimp
• Spinach, carrots, beans, onions, tomatoes, black beans, navy beans, and leafy greens
• Pineapples, bananas and avocados
• Lentils, wheat germ, whole grain flour, sunflower seeds and other legumes
Multivitamins serve as another form of B6, as do B complex vitamins or children’s liquid drops. Vitamin B6 supplements are sold as pyridoxamine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxal-5-phosphate, in tablet, lozenge and soft gel forms.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 in adults is as follows:
• 1.3 mg for males and females in the 19-50 age group
• 1.5 mg for females aged 51 years and above
• 1.7 m for males aged 51 years and above
• 1.9 mg for pregnant women
• 2.0 mg for breastfeeding women
It has been seen that a high-protein diet can increase risk of B6 depletion. If you’re eating protein-rich meals for muscle gain and fat loss, it makes sense to examine your B6 intake.
• Vitamin B6 has several protective effects for women and older adults
• A balanced meal helps ensure vitamin B6 adequacy in your body
• Diversity of B6-rich foods should make it easy to get B6 the natural way. B6 or multivitamin supplementation is the alternative.