Vitamin B6 is one of the essential B vitamins. It has several different names based on the role it plays in the body.
B6 functions as a coenzyme, or helper molecule, in the body and participates in over 100 reactions.
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods. The richest sources are organ meats, fish, meat, some starchy vegetables and eggs.
This nutrient is water-soluble meaning your body will excrete what it doesn’t need.
Common deficiency symptoms of vitamin B6:
- 1. Skin issuesDermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition associated with a B6 deficiency. This includes a red, itchy rash that can appear all over the skin. B6 is needed to create collagen, a necessary protein for healthy skin.
- 2. Swollen tongueAnother common deficiency symptom is called glossitis. This condition is characterized by a swollen, sore, glossy, smooth or inflamed tongue. It is due to the loss of papillae, which are the small, red bumps on your tongue that house your taste buds.
- 3. Mood issuesDepression, confusion or mood changes can be the result of low or deficient vitamin B6 levels. B6 plays a key role in mood regulation because it is needed to synthesize neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. These two neurotransmitters are involved in lowering anxiety and feelings of depression.
- 4. Depleted immune functionA vitamin B6 deficiency results in impaired immune cell production (Source). Adequate levels of B6 are needed for normal production of white blood cells. Additionally, it has been shown in research that vitamin B6 beneficially improves immune response in patients who are critically ill (Source).
- 5. Fatigue and low-energyVitamin B6 plays an essential role in energy production. If you’re severely deficient in vitamin B6, you will notice an improvement in energy level or reduction of fatigue upon restoring vitamin B6 levels. B vitamins like B6 are essential because they help convert food into fuel, which produces energy.
Who is at risk for a B6 deficiency?
An isolated vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon. Usually, an inadequate vitamin B6 status results from deficiencies of the other B vitamins such as vitamin B12 and folate. There are also specific populations who are at risk for a B6 deficiency. Additionally, while a true deficiency is rare in the general population, many individuals are still at risk for B6 inadequacy, which is defined as a marginal B6 status.
Groups at risk include but are not limited to:
- Obese individuals
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with malabsorption disorders such as Celiac disease
- Individuals with autoimmune disorders
- Anyone with chronically high inflammation levels
- Individuals with kidney disorders especially end-stage renal disease and chronic renal insufficiency
- Individuals taking antiepileptic medications
Effects of vitamin B6 on health:
Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of red blood cells, the creation of neurotransmitters and for proper energy metabolism. Vitamin B6 is required for optimal health and prevention of chronic disease such as heart disease.
- 1. Needed for heart healthB6 is required to reduce homocysteine levels. High homocysteine is linked to increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Adequate B6 ensures that the arteries do not narrow and thus reduces heart disease risk. There is evidence that individuals with low B6 levels have double the risk of heart disease (Source).
- 2. Needed for brain healthVitamin B6 is needed to decrease homocysteine levels, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate levels of vitamin B6 helps to reduce one’s risk for neurodegeneration and brain decline.
- 3. Improves moodB6 is needed to create the neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotion. Additionally, levels of B6 have been found to be low in individuals with depression.
- 4. Lowers inflammation and prevents cancerA recent study, published in 2018, confirmed that B6 is an antioxidant that is anti-inflammatory. Due to its potent roles in inflammation, it is speculated to also be anti-carcinogenic (Source).
Should I supplement?
If you are deficient in vitamin B6 (be sure to get our intracellular micronutrient testing done) or if you have the MTHFR gene, high homocysteine levels, or are in any of the at-risk groups mentioned above, it would be good to supplement with vitamin B6.
In order to reap the most benefit, you want to ensure your B vitamins are of high quality and are easily absorbed. Look for “activated” or methylated B vitamins. In our supplements, we always use this form to ensure total absorption.
This is our recommended source of 50 mg of vitamin B6:
- Homocysteine SupportThis is our customized blend of B6 and other key B vitamins and synergistic nutrients to significantly lower homocysteine levels and protect the heart.
We suggest you add Homocysteine Support to our MULTI vitamin 2 caps 2x per day for adults.