Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine as it is also known, performs a wide variety of functions in your body and is essential for your good health. For example, Vitamin B6 is needed for more than 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism.

What it is

A water-soluble member of the B groups vitamin B6 is involved in more bodily processes than any other vitamin or mineral. It functions mainly as a coenzyme to act in concert with other enzymes to speed up chemical reactions in the cells.

Vitamin B6 exists in three major chemical forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamne, all of which are equally is satisfying nutritional needs, however some practitioners believe that pyridoxal is better absorbed.

In addition to other B complex vitamins, pyridoxine is considered an “anti-stress” vitamin because it is believed to enhance the activity of the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions.

What it does

Through its involvement in protein metabolism and cellular growth Vitamin B6 helps to maintain the health of the lymphoid organs (thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes) by the creation of white blood cells that fight infections. Vitamin B6 is needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine These neurotransmitters are required for normal nerve cell communication.

Vitamin B6 works closely with B12 and B9 (folic acid) and B12 requires the presence of B6 in order to be absorbed. When caloric intake is low your body needs Vitamin B6 to help convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels

Other major functions include:

  • forming red blood cells – haemaglobin
  • normal brain development and function
  • protein synthesis in cells
  • conversion of tryptophan (an amino acid) to niacin
  • syntheising brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as seratonin
  • releasing stored forms of energy
  • may be helpful in preventing heart disease
  • muscle and nervous system cell health
  • helps relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
  • maintaining muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract
  • promotes healthy skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver

Dietary sources

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods including:

  • chicken & turkey
  • tuna, salmon & shrimp
  • beef liver
  • lentils
  • soybeans
  • nuts
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • carrots
  • brown rice
  • bran
  • sunflower seeds
  • wheat germ
  • whole-grain flour.

Vitamin B6 can be lost in preparation, cooking, or storage. Cooking losses occur because some of the vitamin is dissolved in the cooking liquid. To retain vitamin B6:

  • Serve fruits raw
  • Cook foods in a minimal amount of water
  • Cook for the shortest possible time
  • Roast or broil meat and poultry

Latest findings:

A recent review of scientific studies showed that Vitamin B6 may help reduce the severity of nausea during early pregnancy.

Levels of important nutrients are often quite low in those with anorexia or bulimia. At least 20% of people with anorexia admitted to a hospital for treatment are deficient in Niacin (B2) and B6.

A US study has found that men who participated in a bereavement group were more distressed and anxious if their B6 levels were lower than those who coped with their feelings more healthily.