To B or not to B6
It might be old news but could you be missing this nutrient.
If you don’t remember your dreams, you’re not alone. This can be a pretty revealing symptom, of a vitamin B6 deficiency.
In fact there’s quite a few signs that you might be deficient in this vitamin. Be sure to check the list below, as it’s mostly an easy fix.
Like if you’re moody, tired or hormonal or you suffer from water retention, low stomach acid (acid reflux), you lack energy, have anaemia, spasms, headaches or nausea.
You might also have skin rashes, sore cracked lips, a glossy painful tongue, changes in your mood and a poor immune system.
Vitamin B6 can also help with:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Cheilosis (inflammation and cracking of the corners of the mouth)
It’s fairly easy to become depleted due to stress and there's plenty of that around, along with high alcohol consumption and a poor diet.
Why is B6 so important?
The B Vitamins are powerful and essential for you to stay healthy, sharp, energetic, balanced, and play they a huge role in the liver detoxification process.
Vitamin B6 is fascinating: It’s involved in more bodily functions than any other single nutrient; affecting both mental and physical outlook.
Sufficient levels of B6 keep your liver functioning optimally by promoting the proper flow of fat and bile to and from the liver.
B6 also has one of the most dramatic mood-elevating effects of all the B vitamins. It activates many enzymes and aids B12 absorption.
Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters and both require B6 in the conversion process. They, in turn, help to support and balance your moods, give you a positive mental outlook, and a healthy response to occasional stress. B6 can help to correct your brain metabolism dysfunctions that cause depression, and maintain a healthy nervous system.
B6 binds to oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, helping to detoxify excess amounts of these hormones, to help reduce your risk of hormone related cancers.
Additional roles for vitamin B6 include the healthy metabolism of your proteins, proper hormone signalling, and transportation of oxygen in the blood. For these reasons, adequate B6 levels may help maintain steady energy levels.
However, the potential vitamin B6 benefits don’t stop there.
It acts as a natural painkiller, also enhances immunity by increasing the synthesis of antibodies used to protect the body.
In fact, studies show that vitamin B6 benefits can also maintain healthy blood vessels, reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, prevent kidney stones and more to help maximise your health.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6, or Pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for over 100 enzyme reactions in your body.
Vitamin B6 has several derivatives that are used by your body every single day and plays a major role in everything from movement to memory to energy expenditure and blood flow.
Your body cannot produce vitamin B6, so it has to be taken in through your diet or through supplements.
Vitamin B6 is present in food, however absorption may be impaired due to a decrease in kidney or liver function, poor absorption in the digestive tract (especially in Celiac Disease, IBD, or bariatric surgery), autoimmune disease, chronic alcohol dependence, or drug interactions. As a result, increased supplementation may be required.
Some medications that may interfere with the absorption of B6 from foods include oral contraceptives and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Foods that contain vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, with the richest sources of vitamin B6 - include fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (other than citrus).
Here is a handy table that show some selected food sources of vitamin B6
Milligrams (mg) per serving
Chickpeas, canned, 1 cup
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces
Tuna, yellowfin, fresh, cooked, 3 ounces
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces
Potatoes, boiled, 1 cup
Turkey, meat only, roasted, 3 ounces
Banana, 1 medium
Marinara (spaghetti) sauce, ready to serve, 1 cup
Ground beef, patty, 85% lean, broiled, 3 ounces
Waffles, plain, ready to heat, toasted, 1 waffle
Bulgur, cooked, 1 cup
Cottage cheese, 1% low-fat, 1 cup
Squash, winter, baked, ½ cup
Rice, white, long-grain, enriched, cooked, 1 cup
Nuts, mixed, dry-roasted, 1 ounce
Raisins, seedless, ½ cup
Onions, chopped, ½ cup
Spinach, frozen, chopped, boiled, ½ cup
Tofu, raw, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate, ½ cup
Watermelon, raw, 1 cup
Recommended dosage of B6
The optimal daily dose of Vitamin B6 is 25 to 50 mg.
As magnesiumand zinc are common co-factors and needed along with B6 for multiple metabolic conversions, I recommend ensuring adequate levels of these alongside the B6.
What are the benefits of B6 for hormones?
B6 helps reduce oestrogen dominance- In phase 2 of your liver detoxification, toxins are combined with another compound that will safely escort them out of the body. Vitamin B6, along with B12, folate, and beets (root and leaves) support the methylation pathway that clears oestrogen from the body.
Read more about the liver here. Or, for a more comprehensive explanation of oestrogen dominance, read here
B6 plays a role in progesterone production– low progesterone can increase premenstrual anxiety and irritability. A study done on women with PMS were given vitamin B6 which was shown to reduce oestrogen and increase progesterone, improving their symptoms.
Progesterone can stimulate the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, that can help relieve your PMS symptoms.
B6 reduces histamine, which is excitatory neurotransmitter. High histamine can contribute to PMS. Vitamin B6’s ability to raise progesterone can also help to reduce histamine levels. Oestrogen stimulates mast cells to produce more histamine, and histamine consequently stimulates the production of more oestrogen. It’s a vicious cycle which vitamin B6 may help break.
Vitamin B6 helps balance blood sugar - B6 levels tend to be lower in those with Type 2 Diabetes. In a study, women were given 100 mg of vitamin B6 per day over a 2 week period which significantly improved their glucose tolerance.
Whether it’s through including more vitamin B6 foods in your diet or taking a B complex to meet your daily needs, getting enough vitamin B6 is absolutely essential due to the number of benefits and vital functions vitamin B6 provides.