Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is a water soluble vitamin. This means that our body cannot store for a long time and we have to intake constantly, mainly by diet.
This is one of the most important vitamins in the body. Vitamin B6 has control over many important processes and one of the most important is the construction of amino acids. Thus, this vitamin has the control of construction of all protein structures (cells and tissues) of the body. Without this vitamin, there are no proteins, without proteins there are no hormones, and without hormones all functions in the body are questioned.
Vitamin B6 is needed for the following functions: brain and central nervous system, the production of certain neurotransmitters (eg serotonin), proper operation of muscles, production of some hormones (adrenaline and dopamine), production of hemoglobin, electrolyte balance in body, development and growth of the fetus and newborn, etc.
Foods rich in Vitamin B6
The richest sources of vitamin B6 are salmon, chicken, avocados, bananas, and courgettes. Also it is found in beans, legumes, nuts, vegetables (carrots, spinach), eggs, meat, fish and grains.
Cooking and processing of the above products lead to the loss of large amounts of vitamin B6. For example, canned vegetables contain 60-80% less nutrients than fresh, while frozen lose 15%.
How much we need?
The recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin B6 is 2 mg, and the maximum safe daily intake (upper safe level) is 200 mg. The most common dose of vitamin B6 as a supplement is 10 to 25 mg daily. But in some special conditions are prescribed and “mega” doses of 200 to 500 mg daily. Although the so-called adults safe dose is 200 mg vitamin B6 daily, pregnant women would not be allowed to use more than 100 mg a day. Even in those doses, sometimes, there are headaches and nausea. Any taking of vitamin B6 over 200 mg per day for more than 2 months should be in consultation with a doctor.
Deficiency of Vitamin B6
Although vitamin B6 is an important component in diet, clinical symptoms of its deficiency are very rare. Deficiency occurs when using certain drugs or is associated with deficiency of other vitamins of B group.
Symptoms are perceived on skin, central nervous system and hematopoietic system including: hair loss, fluid retention in the body during pregnancy, cramps and numbness in hands and feet, frequent urination, anemia and more. The concentration of vitamin B6 is reduced in alcoholics, pregnant women and women taking oral contraceptives containing estrogen.
Vitamin B6 toxicity symptoms
Excessive doses of vitamin B6 can cause nerve disorders, loss of sensation in the legs, loss of balance and tingling. Rarely may occur and allergic reactions, sensitivity to sunlight or loss of appetite.