Vitamin B6 or pyridoxamine is one of the eight essential water-soluble B vitamins necessary for optimal wellness (1).
The other eight B vitamins include B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B4 (pantothenic acid) B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin) (2).
Many foods are rich in B6, so it is not a very common deficiency (5). But some outside factors can deplete levels of B6 as well. For example, certain medications can deplete B6 levels in the blood (6). Also, eating a diet low in nutrients can affect your levels (5).
The daily recommended intakes of Vitamin B6 depends on age and pregnancy status and ranges from 0.1 mg for infants to 1.7 mg in adults over 50 years old to 1.9mg for someone who is pregnant (7).
Summary: Vitamin B6 (pyridoxamine) is an essential B vitamin necessary for cellular formation and energy metabolism. The recommended requirement ranges from 0.1 for infants to 1.7 mg for adults over 50 per day. Eating a variety of foods can help you reach your vitamin B6 levels.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Foods that Contain Vitamin B6
- Potential Health Risks for Taking too Much Vitamin B6
Health Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Discover the information below to see the many health benefits of vitamin B6. Plus, learn the best dietary sources if there are any potential risk factors.
1. It Can Prevent Heart Disease and Blood Clots
High homocysteine levels are associated with increase risk of cardiovascular disease, so for that reason, it was thought that vitamin B6 may be beneficial for heart health (10). However, experimental studies have not found that supplements of vitamin B6 helps prevents cardiovascular disease, so it is best to get adequate B6 from foods in your diet (11).
Vitamin levels like vitamin B6 are not the only factors to keep a healthy heart. To prevent heart disease, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits is a necessity (14).
Summary: Vitamin B6, with help from B9 and B12, can reduce high levels of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine increases risk for heart disease. However, supplements of vitamin B6 does not appear prevents cardiovascular disease, so it is best to get adequate B6 from foods.
2. It May Help with Morning Sickness
Nausea and vomiting are the most common symptoms pregnant women face, but there may be hope in preventing them. There is some evidence that vitamin B6 may even help to prevent or lessen morning sickness in pregnant women (19).
In an observational study, participants were either given a placebo, ginger, or vitamin B6. There were remarkable differences in the ginger and vitamin B6 groups. Vitamin B6 and ginger show to be as powerful individually to help treat morning sickness in that study (20).
In another randomized trial, researchers compared the effects of vitamin B6 and an anti-histamine, dimenhydrinate, to treat morning sickness. Both vitamin B6 and the anti-histamine were effective for treating nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (21).
If you are experiencing morning sickness often, discuss with a doctor if a simple solution of vitamin B6 or ginger could be your way to relief.
Summary: For pregnant women experiencing morning sickness, vitamin B6 may help to prevent or lessen this symptom. Along with ginger, vitamin B6 has shown in studies to reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.
3. It Can Prevent Anemia
Because of vitamin B6 role in producing red blood cells, this vitamin plays an important role in preventing anemia caused by deficiency (22). Some may think that iron is the sole element in treating anemia, but that is not the only factor.
Essential B vitamins, like vitamin B6, carry out a critical function to promote a healthy and stable red blood cell count. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the cells. However, hemoglobin cannot form properly without multiple vitamins, including vitamin B6, folate, iron, and vitamin B12 (23).
Summary: Because of vitamin B6 role in producing red blood cells, this vitamin plays an important role in preventing anemia caused by deficiency. Both iron and B vitamins are important for preventing anemia. Vitamin B6 carries out the important role of promoting a stable red blood cell count.
4. It May Promote Cognitive Function
Many B vitamins can help to improve cognitive function, such as memory, concentration, and more, and B6 is no different.
Similar to heart disease, homocysteine levels may increase risk for alzheimers, and vitamin B6 has been shown to lower homocysteine levels (27), (28). However, studies of vitamin B6 supplementation does not appear to improve brain function or prevent Alzheimer’s compared to placebos (29), (30).
It is critical to eat a balanced diet, exercise often, and challenge your brain by learning new things frequently to improve cognitive health and maintain it long-term.
Summary: Vitamin B6 in general are helpful for maintaining brain health. Consuming some B vitmains may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but more research is needed.
5. It May Reduce Signs of PMS and Depression
PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome is typically treated with over-the-counter pain killers, as it often includes cramps, headaches, and more (31). But B6 may play a potent role in reducing symptoms as well.
Some studies show that supplementing with vitamin B6 has a positive effect on diminishing PMS and premenstrual depression (32). The results show that B6 supplementation was far more potent than the placebo group.
Another factor to keep in mind is that oral contraceptives can significantly lower the amount of B6 you have in your blood (6). Consult with your doctor if you are taking oral contraceptives to discuss potential side effects.
Summary: PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, symptoms include cramps, headaches, and even gastrointestinal issues. Vitamin B6 may play a role in reducing these symptoms, according to some studies. Oral contraceptives can lower the amount of B6 in the blood, so be mindful of this if you take it and talk to your doctor about this potential side effect.
Foods that Contain Vitamin B6
Many foods are rich in vitamin B6. If you eat a diet rich in the foods listed below, have no malabsorption issues, have a well balanced diet, and you do not suffer from chronic stress or some auto-immune conditions, you are likely to get an adequate amount of vitamin B6 (5).
You can get your vitamin B6 from foods like the ones listed below (5):
- Fish-salmon, tuna
- Beef liver
- Marinara sauce
- Ground beef
- Cottage cheese
- Fortified cereal and some other foods
Many of these foods are typical staple foods for many, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. It is not difficult for vegetarians to get enough B6 in their life if they eat a healthy diet. See where you can start adding more of these foods.
Summary: Vitamin B6 is needed in small amounts in the body and is found in many different foods. Because of this, it is rare to be deficient. Foods such as legumes, whole grains, dairy products, tofu, leafy greens, fortified cereals, meat, nuts, eggs, and fruit contain vitamin B6.
Potential Health Risks for Taking too Much Vitamin B6
Unlike vitamin B12, it is possible to supplement with too much vitamin B6 (33). But it is typically rare to get too much vitamin B6 from your diet alone, but it does occur when taking high dose supplements for a long time period (3).
Be sure to ask your doctor or healthcare professional if you want to start taking a higher dose of vitamin B6. Overdose or toxicity in vitamin B6 is rare, but it is possible (7).
Some potential health risks for taking too much vitamin B6 include (33):
- Loss of coordination or muscle control (also known as ataxia)
- Muscle twiches
- Light sensitivity
Remember that balance is the key to optimal health when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Do you think you are getting too much vitamin B6? Be sure to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional if you experience any of the above symptoms or if you want to get your levels tested. Your doctor can then assist you with the correct dosage, and help you continue to prevent the risk of disease in the future.
Summary: Overdose or toxicity can occur with vitamin B6, especially if you plan to take a high dose supplement. Potential health risks for toxicity include loss of coordination and muscle control, skin lesions, numbness, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal issues, lowered ability to sense pain, and sensitivity to light. Speak with your doctor if you need to be on a high dose supplement.
Vitamin B6 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that helps protect red blood cells, neurons, and more. Always be sure you are getting enough vitamin B6 through food and possibly supplements as well.
Supplementing or changing your diet to get enough vitamin B6 can boost many areas of your health, preventing unnecessary disease and illness. If you suffer from any of the potential side effects of vitamin B6, make sure to visit or speak with your healthcare professional as soon as possible. A healthy balanced diet full of a plethora of the foods listed above is an excellent start to making sure you are getting enough vitamin B6.
A balance of all eight essential B vitamins, including B6, is critical to maintaining a healthy body and mind.