Vitamin B6 Rich Foods for a Your Brain and Metabolism

Vitamin B6 foods are crucial in maintaining overall health, supporting brain function, and promoting proper metabolism.

Incorporating vitamin B6 into your diet has numerous benefits, from boosting your immune system to enhancing mood regulation.

This essential nutrient, found in a variety of foods, helps your body perform a myriad of functions efficiently.

In this article, we will explore the top vitamin B6-rich foods, their health benefits, and tips on including them in your daily meals for optimal well-being.

High Vitamin B6 Food Sources (Per Serving)

If you find yourself falling short of the recommended thiamine intake, focus on foods that contain more vitamin B6 per serving, like:

  • turkey breast
  • chicken breast
  • bananas
  • salmon
  • sirloin steak
  • roast beef
  • pork loin
  • beef liver
  • leg ham
  • ground beef (lean)
  • potato
  • cod

To help you get started, the infographic below shows the vitamin B6 provided by popular foods in the average serving sizes consumed by our Optimisers.  

high vitamin B6 foods

Once you’re ready to revitalise your diet with a wider variety of high-thiamine foods, download our printable list of foods with more vitamin B6 per serving here.

Vitamin B6 Rich Food Sources (Per Calorie)

Once you know you’re getting the minimum amount of vitamin B6 your body needs, you can zero in on foods that deliver more thiamine per calorie to increase your satiety and nutrient density, like:

  • bok choy
  • bell peppers
  • spinach
  • kimchi
  • garlic
  • chicken breast
  • cauliflower
  • sauerkraut
  • turkey breast
  • broccoli
  • zucchini
  • pork loin

 The infographic below shows popular foods that provide more vitamin B6 per calorie.

vitamin B6 rich foods

For more variety, check out our printable list of vitamin B6-rich foods per calorie.

Vitamin B6 Food Chart

The chart below shows a range of popular foods in terms of vitamin B6 (per calorie) vs. vitamin B6 (per serving).  For more details, you can dive into the interactive Tableau version of this chart

Vitamin B6 Food Chart

How Much Vitamin B6 Do You Need?

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 adequate long-term tissue stores of B6.   

Our satiety analysis reveals that your body craves at least 1.5 mg of vitamin B6 per 2000 calories. Achieving the Optimal Nutrient Intake Intake of 3.6 mg per 2000 calories aligns with food with an impressive 24% reduction in energy intake.  

satiety response to vitamin B6 in food

Vitamin B6-Rich Recipes

Elevate your culinary game with our chart, showcasing over 1400 NutriBooster recipes used in our Micros Masterclass.  We’ve plotted these recipes based on vitamin B6 content versus protein percentage.  The further right you go, the more vitamin B6 you can enjoy with fewer calories.

Vitamin B6-Rich Recipes

Dive into the details with our interactive Tableau chart on your computer.  Click on each recipe to uncover the magic behind it and even feast your eyes on mouthwatering pictures!

pictures of Vitamin B6-Rich Recipes

Benefits of Vitamin B6

  • Helps with the metabolism of amino acids: Vitamin B6 is involved in the metabolism of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.  It helps break down amino acids and convert them into other substances the body can use.
  • Supports the nervous system: Vitamin B6 is involved in producing neurotransmitters, chemicals that allow nerve cells to communicate with each other. It is also important for producing myelin, the protective covering around nerve cells.
  • Helps with the production of red blood cells: Vitamin B6 is involved in producing hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
  • Supports the immune system: Vitamin B6 produces white blood cells, which are important for fighting off infections and diseases.
  • May reduce the risk of certain health conditions: Studies have suggested that vitamin B6 may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and some types of cancer.
  • Additionally, some research indicates a potential role of Vitamin B6 in diabetes management.
  • Pyridoxine keeps your mood in check, as it’s responsible for creating neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, gamma-butyric acid (GABA), and dopamine.
  • Vitamin B6 is also essential for pregnancy for both mother and baby’s health.

What Does Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Do in Your Body? 

Symptoms of Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Deficiency

A deficiency of pyridoxine alone is rare in the Western world.  However, when a deficiency of B6 appears, it is often accompanied by shortfalls in other vitamins like folate and B12.

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:

  • acne,
  • hair loss,
  • normocytic anemia,
  • loss of appetite,
  • mouth ulcers,
  • seizures,
  • cognitive changes,
  • rashes,
  • cheilitis,
  • a swollen tongue (glossitis),
  • depression,
  • nervousness,
  • irritability,
  • dizziness,
  • numbness,
  • pins and needles,
  • electric shock sensations,
  • sleepiness and fatigue,
  • weakness,
  • poor wound healing,
  • joint pain,
  • flaky skin,
  • hearing problems, and
  • growth retardation. 

Who is at Risk of B6 Deficiency?

Vitamin B6 Toxicity

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 in vitamin B6 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 Intake 

Based on the robust satiety response data, we have set a stretch target of 5.0 mg/2000 calories for vitamin B6. 

Once you start to get the hang of nutrient density, you could ‘level up’ by working to achieve these stretch targets to optimise your nutrition.  For more details, see:

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 the USDA Economic Research Service).  However, there has been an overall decrease in B6 in the food system since the USDA Dietary Guidelines 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.  

Availability of Vitamin B6 in The Food System

Bioavailability of Vitamin B6

Studies have shown that the bioavailability of B6 in animal foods is much higher than in plant foods.  About 75% of the vitamin B6 is bioavailable on a mixed diet. 

Processing Losses

  • Like the other B vitamins, vitamin B6 becomes unstable when exposed to light, and 75% is lost from grains during milling.
  • 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.

Synergistic Nutrients

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 complete nutrient profile to avoid imbalance.  

How Can I Calculate if I am Getting Enough Vitamin B6? 

Curious about your Vitamin B1 intake?  Take our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge and discover if you’re hitting the Vitamin B6 sweet spot in your diet.

After just one week of tracking your daily meals with Cronometer, Nutrient Optimiser will unveil a personalised roadmap, your guide to a healthier, more nutrient-rich lifestyle. 

You’ll receive a curated list of foods and tantalising NutriBooster recipes that not only fill your Vitamin B6 gaps but also ensure you’re not missing out on critical nutrients.

Ready to unlock your nutrient potential?  Join the challenge and journey towards a brighter, healthier you!

Nutrient Density Starter Pack

Ready to supercharge your nutrition?  Get our Nutrient Density Starter Pack – your all-access pass to a healthier, more vibrant you!

In our quest to make Nutritional Optimization a breeze, we’re thrilled to offer you this treasure trove of tools and resources when you join our vibrant Optimising Nutrition Community:

  • Food Lists: Discover our carefully crafted lists optimised for each essential nutrient, tailored to your goals, preferences, and unique conditions.
  • The Healthiest Meal Plan in the World: Peek into a week of mouthwatering, nutrient-dense meals that’ll leave you satisfied and energised.
  • Recipes: Download delectable samples from our NutriBooster recipe books, designed to elevate your nutrition while tantalising your taste buds.
  • 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge: Unearth your priority nutrients and pinpoint the foods and meals that pack a nutrient punch so you can kickstart your journey to better health.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to transform your nutrition effortlessly.  Join our community and unlock your path to a healthier, more vibrant you!”

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