Vitamin B6 for Health

Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin required to maintain normal nerve function, break down proteins, keep blood sugar in check and produce antibodies and hemoglobin. Vitamin B6 must be obtained from the diet because humans cannot synthesize it and because B6 is water soluble, the body does not store it, therefore it must be consumed regularly to maintain healthy levels.

The phosphate ester derivative pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) is the principal coenzyme form of B6 and has the most importance in human metabolism. Vitamin B6 in coenzyme forms performs a wide variety of functions in the body and is extremely versatile, with involvement in more than 100 enzyme reactions. These enzymes operate in various systems of the body, particularly the circulatory, nervous and immune systems.

Helps Metabolism
Vitamin B6 enables the metabolic reactions that our bodies need to make amino acids out of protiens. The body uses it to help break down proteins, so the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need. It also helps convert carbohydrates into usable energy and is also needed for the conversion of tryptophan (an amino acid) to niacin (a vitamin).

Supports Nervous System and Mental health
Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and for myelin sheath that protects and insulates nerve cells. Other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), are also synthesized using PLP-dependent enzymes.

Preventing Heart Disease
Three vitamins - folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 regulate the amount of homocysteine found in the blood. Too much homocysteine damages the blood vessels, increases the risk of blood clots leading to risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Treating Anemia and low Hemoglobin
Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and the amount of oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells - hemoglobin - is increased by pyridoxine.

Preventing Morning Sickness
Vitamin B6 has been used for decades to help pregnant women suffering from morning sickness. A few studies have demonstrated that vitamin B6 supplements have reduced nausea and vomiting in women with morning sickness.

Health Immune System
Vitamin B6 helps maintain the health of lymphoid organs (thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes) that make your white blood cells. Animal studies show that a vitamin B6 deficiency can decrease your anti-body production and suppress your immune response.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Vitamin B6 also helps maintain your blood glucose (sugar) within a normal range. 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 than the above mentioned benefits Vitamin B6 is used to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, behavioral disorders in children with low levels of serotonin, help reduce symptoms of depression, help stimulate the immune system and reduced risk of developing AMD, an eye disease that can cause loss of vision. It is also used in treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and undesired hairloss in Vitamin B6 deficient individuals.
Becuase vitamin B6 plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin it can also be used to treat eczema, dandruff, acne, psoriasis and dry skin.
Vitamin B6 can also reduce the symptoms of inflammation, including bronchial inflammation associated with asthma and emphysema, inflammation of the joints associated with rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

Vitamin B6 Food Sources
Leafy green vegetables, including spinach, turnip, collard, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale, green peppers, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, legumes, carrots, turmeric, garlic, potatoes and mushrooms. High proteins foods such as beef, pork, tuna, salmon, snapper, shrimp, chicken, turkey, eggs and dairy products. Whole wheat, peas, beans, squash, rice, nuts, raisins, bananas and watermelon are all good sources of B6.
Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Pyridoxine deficiency in adults principally affects the peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes, and the circulatory (blood cell) system. In children, the central nervous system (CNS) is also affected. Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with microcytic anemia, electroencephalographic abnormalities, dermatitis with cheilosis (scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth) and glossitis (swollen tongue), depression and confusion, and weakened immune function.

Deficiency can occur in people with uremia, alcoholism, cirrhosis, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, and congestive heart failure (CHF), and in those taking certain medications. Smoking also affects the B6 absorption. A high amount of vitamin B6 is lost during the various processes of cooking and freezing. Canning results in 60 to 80 per cent loss of pyridoxine. Mild deficiency of vitamin B6 is common among people.

The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams in males and 1.3 to 1.5 milligrams in females. It increases to 1.9 milligrams in pregnant women and 2 milligrams in nursing mothers.
Pyridoxine hydrochloride is the common form of vitamin B6 that is commercially seen. Supplements comprising of pyridoxal-5-phosphate are also available.
Note: Vitamin B-6 can be dangerous in large amounts. People who take more than 200 mg of this nutrient daily are at risk of developing vitamin B-6 toxicity which is extremely detrimental for the body.

Always consult your health care provider before starting a supplement therapy