Vitamin B6 (aka pyridoxine) is an essential water-soluble vitamin your body requires for many critical functions.
The Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) in Your Body
- Vitamin B6 is critical to utilising the protein, fat and carbohydrate you consume from food. However, it is most involved with protein metabolism.
- Pyridoxine is a coenzyme, making it a cofactor in over 100 enzymes involved in human metabolism.
- We need vitamin B6 to create red blood cells, antibodies, and haemoglobin.
- Pyridoxine keeps your mood in check, as it’s responsible for the creation of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, gamma-butyric acid (GABA), and dopamine.
- The body uses vitamin B6 to synthesise and break down sex steroid hormones like estrogen to regulate the reproductive system. For this reason, it can be helpful to manage symptoms of PMS like water retention.
- Adequate pyridoxine is also critical to growth, cognitive development, immune function, and evading fatigue.
- B6 is essential for the health and integrity of the nervous system because it maintains your nerves and decreases harmful substances that can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s.
- Pyridoxine helps manage cardiovascular disease as it is known to improve homocysteine levels.
- B6 helps to ensure you sleep well by regulating your body’s level of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to melatonin.
- Pyridoxine helps manage, prevent, and counter inflammatory conditions like autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
- Adequate vitamin B6 is crucial for metabolising substances like oxalate and preventing kidney stones.
- Randomised controlled trials have found that Vitamin B6 helps with morning sickness and nausea in pregnancy and manages carpel tunnel syndrome.
- The Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) in Your Body
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Rich Food Sources
- Highest Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Recipes
- Symptoms of Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Deficiency
- Who is at Risk of B6 Deficiency?
- Satiety Response to High Vitamin B6 Foods
- Vitamin B6 Toxicity
- Optimal Vitamin B6 Stretch Target
- Availability of Vitamin B6 in The Food System
- Processing Losses
- Synergistic Nutrients
- Nutrient Profile of High Vitamin B6 Foods
- How Do I Calculate my Vitamin B6 Intake?
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Rich Food Sources
Vitamin B6 is found plentifully in both plant and animal foods. Although it is found readily in fortified foods, whole food sources provide plenty of vitamin B6.
Foods that contain more vitamin B6 include:
- green peppers
- russet potato
- light meat turkey
- beef liver
- lamb liver
- wild salmon
- chicken liver
- sweet potato
Highest Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Recipes
Some examples of our NutriBooster recipes high in Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) include:
- mashed cauliflower
- roast turmeric cauliflower
- turkey & spinach egg white omelette
- chicken meatza
- crispy skin salmon (pictured below)
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:
- hair loss,
- normocytic anemia,
- loss of appetite,
- mouth ulcers,
- cognitive changes,
- a swollen tongue (glossitis),
- pins and needles,
- electric shock sensations,
- sleepiness and fatigue,
- poor wound healing,
- joint pain,
- flaky skin,
- hearing problems, and
- growth retardation.
Who is at Risk of B6 Deficiency?
- B6 deficiency is rare in the western world, where nutrient-dense or fortified foods are readily available. However, those who live in parts of the world where nutrient-poor foods are staples are at risk for deficiency.
- Individuals who suffer from alcoholism, obesity, and protein malnutrition are at a higher risk for B6 deficiency. In addition, because B6 is absorbed in the small intestine, someone with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritably bowel syndrome (IBS), poor digestion, Celiac disease, or bariatric surgery may have difficulty absorbing their B6.
- People who are also at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B6 are those with increased metabolic demands, like those with renal disorders, autoimmunity, or someone taking certain medications like steroids.
Satiety Response to High Vitamin B6 Foods
Our satiety analysis indicates that we have a moderate response to foods containing more Vitamin B6. For example, the chart below shows that Optimisers who consume around 5 mg/2000 calories of vitamin B6 from food tend to eat around 20% less than those who consume fewer amounts of B6. However, as we can see in the chart below, simply adding more vitamin B6 from a supplement or fortified, processed foods to an otherwise nutrient-poor diet does not necessarily provide greater satiety.
Clinical deficiencies are seen with intakes of less than 0.5 mg/day of vitamin B6, but 1.1 mg/day is required to maintain long-term tissue stores of B6. Similar to protein, it is recommended that older people consume more vitamin B6.
The average vitamin B6 intake of Optimisers is 3.2 mg/2000 calories, which are significantly more than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of 1.0 mg/day or the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 1.3 mg/day.
Vitamin B6 is water-soluble. However, long term supplementation of very high doses of vitamin B6 (greater than 1,000 mg per day) for extended periods is known to result in painful neurological symptoms known as sensory neuropathy. An Upper Intake Level has been set at 100 mg/day for this reason.
Because specific vitamins and minerals work antagonistically to one another, consuming large amounts of isolated supplements like B1 (thiamine) can contribute to a deficiency over time. Hence, you should focus on whole foods for your vitamins and minerals because they include a complete profile of synergistic nutrients.
Optimal Vitamin B6 Stretch Target
|vitamin B6 (mg)||5||4|
Availability of Vitamin B6 in The Food System
The data in the chart below illustrates the increase in vitamin B6 fortification during the 1970s (data from USDA Economic Research Service). However, there has been an overall decrease in B6 in the food system since the USDA Dietary Guidelines was introduced in 1977. It’s important to note that the rise of obesity closely follows the rise in dietary B6 from fortified foods.
Consuming enough B6 to meet the EAR is not hard if someone consumes either fortified foods or whole foods. However, you will need to go out of your way to achieve the DRI and the stretch target.
Studies have shown that the bioavailability of B6 in animal foods is much higher than in plant foods. About 75% the vitamin B6 is bioavailable on a mixed diet.
- Similar to the other B vitamins, vitamin B6 becomes unstable when exposed to light, and 75% is lost from grains during the milling process.
- When we cook B6-rich foods, we can expect to lose 30 to 45% from heat, 70% when we freeze fruits and vegetables, and 50 to 70% when processing meat.
Vitamin B6 works synergistically with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, E, biotin, chromium, copper, folate, leucine, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, selenium, sodium and zinc. For this reason, it is best to consume vitamin B6 from food sources that contain a more complete nutrient profile to avoid imbalance.
The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows that high levels of pyridoxine can be obtained from a nutrient-dense diet. Foods high in vitamin B6 tend to have significant protein and lowered fat contents.
If you’re interested in checking if you’re getting enough vitamin B6 in your diet, you can check your nutrient profile using our Free 7-Day Food Discovery Challenge.
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- Maximum Nutrient Density Food List
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Recipe Book
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Meal Plan.
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Nutrient Density Index
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1