Vitamin B6: benefits, overdose, food

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) participates in the formation of red blood cells, energy production and the proper functioning of the immune system. Where can you find it? What are the causes of an overdose? Which foods?

The conditioning vitamin B6 denotes a group of different substances, the best known of which are pyridoxine pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. Vitamin B6 is water soluble (that is, soluble in water) and sensitive to light. On the other hand, she is heat resistant and so to the cook. Vitamin B6 is synthesized in the small intestine. However, the amount produced by the intestinal flora is insufficient to meet the body’s daily needs. “It is, therefore, necessary to consume it daily through food (Remarkable meat, fish and liver) and/or the addition”underlines Sylvie Suire, dietician-nutritionist.

Vitamin B6 is involved in many vital mechanisms, such as the metabolism of amino acids and glycogen, the formation of red blood cells over their energy production and the normal functioning of the nervous system and immune system. It is sometimes prescribed for fatigue in combination with vitamin B1 and arginine, but its effectiveness remains under debate. The deficiency is rarely isolated and various conditions can occur: convulsions, peripheral neuritis, and anaemia.

Vitamin B6 contributes to the normal synthesis of cysteine ​​and stimulates the synthesis of keratin that makes up hair. These two actions promote cell regeneration of the scalp and help slow down possible hair loss.

Studies have shown that vitamin B6 is effective for some morning sickness pregnant women. Doses between 10 and 20 mg should be taken daily, but only under medical supervision and after consultation with a doctor. “It has been found that almost 40% of women using oral contraceptives have a vitamin B6 deficiency, which disrupts their metabolism and could be the cause of the depressive tendency seen in this population.“, underlines Sylvie Suire.

A vitamin B6 blood test may be prescribed to diagnose deficiencies in patients with symptoms of irritability, confusion, depression, inflammation of the tongue (glossitis), seborrheic lesions around the eyes and mouth, or anaemia.

According to the indications on your analysis sheet, the average results should be between 2 and 22 mg/L.

Blood levels of vitamin B6 may decrease in the following cases:

  • A deficiency in intake due to a low-calorie diet or malnutrition,
  • In pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • In women who use oral contraception.
  • In people suffering from autoimmune diseases.
  • Among smokers.
  • In people who are dependent on alcohol.
  • In people suffering from chronic infections,
  • In people taking isoniazid, it can affect the metabolism of the vitamin.
  • In non-supplemented hemodialysis patients.

An increased intake of vitamin B6 can lead to: neurological disorders

Vitamin B6 deficiencies are rare in developed countries. They are mainly observed in alcoholics and those suffering from chronic intestinal diseases. “They are usually related to other deficiencies in group B vitamins, remembers Sylvie Suire. These deficiencies mainly cause dermatitis or damage to the mucous membranes. (cracked lips, inflammation of the mouth) as well as anaemia.

Just like deficiencies, excesses of vitamin B6 are rare because this vitamin is stored very little by the body. However, prolonged intake of high doses of vitamin B6 (about 25 mg/day) for several months can lead to:

  • Numbness and loss of sensitivity in the hands and feet,
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Damage to the nervous system.

“The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.8 mg per day for adult men and 1.5 mg per day for adult women, our interlocutor underlines. But this can be increased, especially in athletes (up to 50 mg/day).” Such doses should be administered under medical supervision. An increased intake of vitamin B6 can lead to neurological disorders: numbness of hands and feet paresthesias, stinging or burning sensation coordination disorders. Stopping this vitamin generally results in a gradual end to symptoms, but aftereffects may persist.

The main sources of vitamin B6 are meat, fish and liver. “Dairy products and grains contain smaller amounts, continues our nutritionist. Most fruits and vegetables are low in vitamin B6 (the richest are bananas, cauliflower and green beans). Note that the form from animal sources is 100% assimilated, while the form from plant sources is very poorly assimilated and could even hinder the assimilation of other forms of vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 and magnesium are very often used in combination during periods of diabetes over time or during an episode of temporary fatigue. “The two substances play a complementary role in nervous balance” concludes our specialist. Note that vitamin B6 promotes the absorption of magnesium.

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