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Vitamin B6 Facts

What is Vitamin B6?

Pyridoxine, also known as Vitamin B6, is a water-soluble vitamin needed by the nervous and immune systems. Vitamin B6 helps nerve cells to communicate. It is involved in making hormones, insulin, antibodies, and cell membranes, and is needed for the normal breakdown of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Vitamin B6 helps to maintain blood sugar within the normal range. Vitamin B6 also aids in the formation of niacin from the amino acid, tryptophan.

Vitamin B6 requirements

The RDAs for Vitamin B6 for healthy adults are 1.3 mg/day in males and females 19-50 years old. The RDA rises with age. Males age 51 years and older need 1.7 mg/day; females age 51 years and older need 1.5 mg/day.

What happens when Vitamin B6 intake is too high?

Excess vitamin B6 from food is almost unknown; however, taking too much Vitamin B6, as a supplement, can cause nerve damage. The nerve damage causes a temporary deadening of the nerves in the feet and a change in gait. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for pyridoxine is set at 100 milligrams a day. Nerve damage occurs at 10 to 20 times the UL.

What happens when Vitamin B6 intake is too low?

Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare in the United States, but it can happen to people who eat a poor diet, as well as to older adults. Symptoms can include skin problems, sore tongue, confusion and anemia, and they occur only when pyridoxine intake has been very low for a long time. When vitamin B6 deficiency occurs, the diet will be deficient in other nutrients as well. Alcoholics may be pyridoxine deficient due to poor intake and because alcohol promotes the destruction and loss of vitamin B6 from the body.

Which foods are high in Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods. Foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, potatoes, fish including salmon and tuna fish, meats such as pork and chicken, bananas, beans and peanut butter, and many vegetables contribute substantial amounts of vitamin B6 intake.
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