Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the important B-complex vitamins. Chemically, it is soluble in water (rather than fats), hence it belongs to the water-soluble group of vitamins. There are three primary forms of vitamin B6, namely, pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL), and pyridoxamine (PM). As per studies on vitamin B6 properties, it is found that pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP), which is a phosphate ester derivative, is the only metabolically active form.
There are several benefits of vitamin B6, which are crucial for the overall health of an individual. Considering this, one should include foods rich in pyridoxine in the regular diet plan, so as to meet the daily requirements. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 for an adult is 1.3 mg. Nevertheless, it is required in higher amounts for pregnant and lactating women. During pregnancy, the RDA of vitamin B6 is 1.9 mg, while for a lactating mother, it is 2.0 mg.
Sources of Vitamin B6
As the human body cannot synthesize vitamin B6, it is obtained from the ingested foods and drinks. The dietary sources of vitamin B6 include a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, fish, poultry, and meat. Some of the foods rich in this vitamin include banana, avocado, walnut, tomato juice, potato, soybean, beans, spinach, oatmeal, wheat bran, fortified ready-to-eat cereals, milk, cheese, peanut butter, eggs, tuna, salmon, chicken breast, pork, and mutton. Other than food sources, vitamin B6 supplements are available in the market, which should be administered in correct dosage. Otherwise, intake of high dose vitamin supplements for a prolonged period can lead to medical problems.
Benefits of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 plays a major role in the coordination of the body's metabolic processes. It is opined that this B-complex vitamin functions as a co-enzyme and regulates more than 100 enzymatic reactions. One such example is conversion of the L-tryptophan (an amino acid) to serotonin (a neurotransmitter). Overall, it ensures normal functioning of the nervous system, hormone regulation, tissue repair, cell growth, and formation of red blood cells (RBCs), nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), and amino acids. Following are some of the benefits and uses of B6 vitamin.
Breakdown of Complex Nutrients
One of the major pyridoxine uses is breaking down of complex nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into simpler forms, which can be easily assimilated by the body cells and tissues. Hence, people who are dieting on high proteinaceous foods require a relatively high amount of pyridoxine than others.
Increases Nutrient Absorption
Doctors are of the opinion that increased intake of vitamin B6 aids in better assimilation of other dietary supplements and treatment medications. This is the reason, pyridoxine is used in specific concentration along with other B vitamins for vitamin B-complex formulations.
Strengthens the Immune System
Vitamin B6 helps in synthesis of lymphocytes (a type of WBCs) and antibodies, which are responsible for the body's defense mechanism. In simpler terms, this water-soluble vitamin promotes the immune system of the body. Hence, those suffering from vitamin B6 deficiency manifest a weakened immune system.
Relieves Edema Condition
One of the vitamin B6 health benefits is relieving water retention or edema, which results in swelling of the body parts. Generally, B-complex vitamins containing specific concentrations of pyridoxine and other B vitamins are recommended for treatment of edema.
Treatment for Hair loss
The benefits of vitamin B6 for hair include preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth. Other than these, it helps in getting rid of dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. Many people receive prompt results after using vitamin B6 for treatment of skin disorders like eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
Combats Premenstrual Syndrome
According to medical researches, vitamin B6 and onset of premenstrual syndrome are interrelated to each other. It is found that increasing vitamin B6 rich foods in the diet plan is effective for controlling hormonal fluctuation, thereby combating the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Treats Morning Sickness
Various studies have been done with respect to vitamin B6 and pregnancy. In a case study, it was found that vitamin B6 can be used for treatment of nausea, vomiting, and other morning sickness symptoms, which many women experience during the initial months of pregnancy.
Prevents Kidney Stones
Pyridoxine, in combination with magnesium, is beneficial for reducing the chances of kidney stone formation. Together, they lower the concentration of urinary oxalate in the urine, which is responsible for forming kidney stones. Also, pyridoxine helps in maintaining the electrolyte (sodium and potassium) balance of the body.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Another benefit of vitamin B6 is lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the healthy way. It also prevents the blood platelets from sticking together. This shows that vitamin B6 indirectly helps in preventing blood circulation problems.
Prevents Heart Disease
In recent times, it has been discovered that vitamin B6 also helps in preventing heart diseases by lowering homocysteine. When there is an insufficient amount of pyridoxine in the body, homocysteine level increases, which in turn damages the lining of blood vessels. Overall, this leads to plaque formation, thus increasing the risk of heart diseases.
Other Health Benefits
In addition, vitamin B6 shows positive results regarding treatment of problems associated with magnesium deficiency, autism, schizophrenia, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Sufficient intake of foods containing pyridoxine reduces the chances of developing Parkinson's disease.
Deficiency of Vitamin B6
As already discussed, pyridoxine is crucial for the normal metabolic processes of the body. Thus, low levels of vitamin B6 for an extended period can lead to various medical problems. Usually, lack of this B-complex vitamin occurs in individuals having a poor quality diet and those who are on specific medications. Also, it is observed that alcoholic abusers are at a higher risk of developing vitamin B6 insufficiency symptoms than others. This is because certain medications and alcohol disturb the normal assimilation of vitamin B6 from foods and drinks.
Some of the notable vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms are skin problems, sore tongue (glossitis), mouth ulcer, anemia, irritability, confusion, depression, and at times, seizures. As these health problems mimic other diseases, timely medical evaluation is advisable to avoid any health complications. For combating the insufficiency symptoms, the person should increase the dietary intake of vitamin B6 or administer supplements.
To sump up, vitamin B6 benefits us in many ways and lack of it leads to medical problems. Though pyridoxine supplements are effective for treating deficiency symptoms, excess intake can lead to nerve damage in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. In order to minimize the risk of vitamin B6 overdose, it is mandatory to include other B-complex vitamins and magnesium supplements. On a safety note, always take the physician's advice while taking pyridoxine supplements.