Vitamins are essential in the body. They serve to maintain and enhance the functioning of its different components and systems. Each vitamin has a specific role to play, and some might be required more than others through diet. Out of all the different vitamins used by your body, vitamin B6 might very well be the most important. Let us breakdown this vitamin a bit further and discover some of its benefits, and find out why it’s regarded as so essential to our bodies.
Vitamin B6 is one of eight B vitamins, a group also known as the B complex vitamins. B vitamins function to convert broken down food into energy for the body, and assist the process of metabolizing fats and proteins. These vitamins are also known for their role in maintaining healthy hair, skin, eyes, and the liver.
Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. This particular B vitamin has an extended number of bodily functions. It’s often considered as a subtle vitamin that acts almost in a covert manner, while having a profound effect. B6 enhances and maintains the functioning of the cardiovascular, digestive, immune, muscular, and nervous systems. B6 synthesizes mood affecting hormones, serotonin and norepinephrine, and plays a vital role in brain development. Its presence is also important to help the body make the hormone melatonin, which helps maintain the body’s circadian rhythm and regulate sleep and wake cycles.
One of the characteristics of the B vitamins is that they are water soluble. They dissolve in the body’s fluids, and the volume that isn’t required by the body at that moment is simply excreted through urine. Unlike fat soluble vitamins, B vitamins are not able to be stored in the body for future use. This means a proper balanced diet will include great sources of Vitamin B6 to avoid deficiency.
Fortunately, B6 is abundant in many different foods. Excellent sources include fish, eggs, beef, poultry, whole grains, nuts and potatoes. Also, B complex vitamins supplementation is readily available. This supplement may also be listed as pyridoxal, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, pyridoxamine, or pyridoxine hydrochloride.
To avoid deficiency, a diet with an adequate vitamin B6 intake is necessary. Recommended daily intakes vary, and will depend on your age, gender, and other factors. Generally, newborns will need anywhere from between 0.1 to 0.3 mg (milligrams), and children aged 1 to 13 anywhere from between 0.5 mg to 1 mg. Boys and girls aged 14 to 18 require between 1.2 mg to 1.3 mg, and adults between 1.3 mg and 1.7 mg. It’s important to note, that pregnant and breastfeeding women will require a higher intake; 1.9 mg and 2.0 mg, respectively.
Achieving a daily recommended intake is actually quite simple. Most likely the average person can meet that requirement with their regular diet alone, since vitamin B6 is so readily available through foods. However, for older adults over 50, a higher intake of 1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women might be more difficult to achieve, since they might be living alone and cooking much less. Older adults are recommended to have their vitamin B6 levels examined by a physician.
Since B vitamins are water soluble, it’s very difficult to consume too much, and B6 toxicity is very rare. If you take more vitamin B than your body requires, whatever is left over is usually excreted. Despite this, it’s still strongly recommended to talk to your doctor, should you choose to supplement with vitamin B6. High amounts, such as 100 mg a day, may increase the risk of health complications and cause acute pains and discomfort. It’s advisable to meet your daily vitamin requirements through food sources, and supplement with special care when necessary.
In regards to research, there has been preliminary evidence that shows vitamin B6 benefits may also include positive effects on health problems such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, chronic pain, and seizures. This is believed to result from the important role vitamin B6 plays in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for proper functioning of nerve transmissions.
Additional evidence suggests that people with vitamin B6 deficiency have an increased risk of heart problems and developing rheumatoid arthritis. A recent major study in Japan found that consuming adequate levels of vitamin B6 and B12 correlated with reduced risk of fatality from stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease.
Furthermore, there have been other studies that discovered little evidence to suggest vitamin B6 prevents cardiovascular disease or any cognitive alterations due to aging. A study done by Duke University Medical Center discovered this, although they did find that vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of stroke and also macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. Evidently more studies are necessary before any conclusions are made, but we cannot deny that meeting an adequate intake of B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, is beneficial and perhaps a necessity.