Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for the metabolism of amino acids and fatty acids, for normal nerve function, and for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps keep the skin healthy. Animal studies show that a vitamin B6 deficiency can decrease antibody production and suppress the immune response.
Vitamin B6 deficiency may result from inadequate intake or from use of drugs that deplete Vitamin B6 reserves in the body
Deficiency can occur in certain groups in the population, such as the elderly or alcoholics who regularly experience poor quality diets very little variety and even quantity and which are therefore are nutrients deficient. When intake has been very low for an extended time symptoms begin to present.
Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency include:
- dermatitis (skin inflammation)
- glossitis (a sore tongue)
- carpel tunnel syndrome
Because some of these symptoms can also be a result of a variety of medical conditions other than vitamin B6 deficiency it is important to have a competent practitioner overseeing these conditions.
Factors adversly affecting B6 levels:
There are many drugs that interfere with the metabolism of vitamin B6. Isoniazid, which is used to treat tuberculosis, and L-DOPA, which is used to treat a variety of neurologic problems such as Parkinson's disease, alter the activity of vitamin B6.
Alcohol promotes the destruction and loss of vitamin B6 from the body.
Asthmatic children treated with the medicine theophylline may need to take supplements of Vitamin B6 because theophylline decreases body stores of the vitamin.