Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is one of eight essential B vitamins that are necessary for many functions throughout the body. These include energy production, cell formation, and much more.
Some frequent B vitamin deficiencies are vitamin B12 and folate (B9), although vitamin B6 is possible. Those who are deficient in B6 may often have an underlying cause, such as rheumatoid arthritis (1). Others may be deficient due to medication interactions like hydralazine and isoniazid (2).
Vitamin B6 is necessary to convert homocysteine to glutathione in the body, which is one of the most vital antioxidants. Glutathione helps to prevent cellular damage while getting rid of free radicals (3).
A specific lifestyle can determine your need for more vitamin B6 as well. These can include excess inflammation through a lack of nutrients and excess alcohol consumption.
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Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Do you think you are getting enough vitamin B6 in your daily diet? Find out more about some common symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency, causes, and the best foods to eat to boost your levels.
1. Microcytic Anemia
One of the most common symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency is microcytic anemia. When you are low in vitamin B6, your body has a hard time synthesizing hemoglobin.
That could also be a common occurrence for vegans and vegetarians because most foods high in vitamin B6 are animal-based foods. The body requires a proper balance of iron and B vitamins to get adequate blood flow and function.
In one study to help treat microcytic anemia, participants treated with both high dose vitamin B6 and iron showed more signs of improvement than those who only received iron. They showed improvement from microcytic anemia over time as well (4).
Read on to find out what common diseases and disorders can bring up vitamin B6 deficiencies.
2. Depression and Irritability
There can be a direct and powerful connection between nutrition and depressive disorders. Many people associate depression with a purely psychological causality, but that is not always the case.
Those who suffer from depression can have some psychological trauma, but many can benefit from vitamin B supplementation in general, especially if they have depression (5).
Although more research is necessary, one study even claims that an elderly group who received vitamin B6 supplementation saw a dramatic improvement in depressive symptoms (6).
3. Nerve Issues
All B vitamins are essential to have proper nerve functioning throughout the body, with an emphasis on vitamin B6. That is because vitamin B6 can cause nerve neuropathy when you get too much and too little (7). You need a sweet spot of vitamin B6 for optimal performance.
Vitamin B6 keeps the muscles and nerves running smoothly, along with the need for a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
The proper balance of all essential B vitamins, as well as seamless digestion, are the key elements to be sure you keep healthy nerves.
4. Low Energy
Are you suffering from low energy each day? Do you feel like you cannot survive without caffeine in the morning? It may be time to check your vitamin B levels.
Many may automatically think of B12 for energy, but that is not the only B vitamin necessary to promote energy. While it is OK to enjoy your cup of joe in the morning, you should be able to sustain natural energy through nutrition and supplementation. Vitamin B6 is necessary for energy production throughout the body, along with all the other B vitamins.
If you are having staying awake or with energy overall, speak to your healthcare professional about getting tested for vitamin B6 deficiency or if a B complex supplement is right for you.
5. Cracked Lips, Dryness, Skin Rashes
Vitamin B6 deficiency or insufficiency can also commonly cause cracked or sore lips, dryness around the mouth, and skin rashes.
Essential B vitamins like vitamin B6 are vital to maintaining healthy skin because it is necessary for collagen synthesis.
Make sure to keep an eye out for abnormal skin rashes, excess dryness around the mouth, and cracked or sore lips.
Causes of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Vitamin B6 deficiency is typically rare, but specific populations are more of a risk.
Factors that can affect your chance of becoming deficient in vitamin B6 include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Drug interactions such as isoniazid, phenelzine, hydralazine, and penicillamine
- Excess inflammation
- Chronic hemodialysis
- Chronic alcoholism
If you suffer from one of the following issues or circumstances, you are more likely to be deficient in vitamin B6. Be sure to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional if you have one of the above circumstances.
You can easily ask to receive blood work to check your vitamin B6 levels, as well as all essential B vitamins, to get to the root cause of the disease in your body.
Foods that Contain Vitamin B6
Many foods are high in vitamin B6, so it can be easy to get everything you need. Check out the list below to see where you can start adding more foods high in vitamin B6 to your diet today.
- Oatmeal, wheat germ, brown rice
- Vegetables such as
- Fortified cereals
The highest vitamin B6 foods include animal-based products. Although vegetables have B6, they are typically low. Vegans and vegetarians should try to eat more oatmeal, wheat germ, and fortified foods to get enough vitamin B6.
Is there somewhere you can start adding more vitamin B6 to your diet? If you are eating these foods regularly, and you still have symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency, reach out to your doctor.
Be sure to speak with your doctor about testing as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is typically rare. Although, those with specific circumstances such as inflammatory conditions or even alcoholism can be deficient.
If you are living an unhealthy lifestyle with a lack of sleep, exercise, and nutrient-dense food, seek out a nutritionist or health coach to help you find what works for you in the long term.
With a healthy diet, full of the foods listed above, you should be able to get adequate levels of vitamin B6 and avoid any of these unnecessary symptoms.