What is Vitamin B6?

By | 18 February 2021

Vitamin B6 for the body to fulfill its daily functions, the need for macro and micronutrients must be fully met with a healthy and balanced diet. While proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in the structure of foods form macronutrients, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals play a supportive role as coenzymes and cofactors during the fulfillment of many functions in the body by regulating functions. Therefore, if the vitamin and mineral needs are not fully met, human health deteriorates and various symptoms occur due to vitamin and mineral deficiency. When the deficiency is replaced, these symptoms may exacerbate and lead to various serious diseases. Vitamin B6, which is among the B group vitamins, is found in foods and supplements and is also called pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 has functions in many areas such as the hormonal system, nervous system, immune system, and blood production. The need for pyridoxine may not be met due to reasons such as insufficient intake of vitamin B6 into the body with foods or insufficient absorption of vitamins from the digestive system due to various diseases. As a result, problems occur in the performance of the daily functions of pyridoxine, and various complications begin to occur. One of the B group vitamins is a type of water-soluble vitamin that has very important functions as a coenzyme in protein metabolism and is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Pyridoxine can also be found in the structure of foods in different forms called pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. The active form is pyridoxyphosphate. Cofactors such as magnesium and riboflavin (vitamin B2) are required for the conversion of pyridoxine to its active form, pyridoxal phosphate (PLF). Therefore, it can be said that for vitamin B6 to be used fully, these cofactors should be taken into the body sufficiently. It is a sensitive vitamin type and can easily deteriorate and lose its function if exposed to factors such as sunlight, high temperature, cooking, and a basic environment. Therefore, adequate intake of freshly consumable sources such as milk and products, fruits, and vegetables is very important in terms of meeting the need for vitamins.

What does vitamin B6 do?

Vitamin B6 is a micronutrient essential for more than 100 biological reactions in the human body. Vitamin B6, which has important effects on brain functions, is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters that provide neural transmission. Depending on this task, it can be said that pyridoxine should be taken in sufficient amounts to perform cognitive functions. Vitamin B6, which has a role in the metabolism of proteins and glycogen, helps these nutrients to be used in the body by decomposing them into basic building blocks. Vitamin B6 is also required for the synthesis of proteins that are necessary for the immune system to function properly. In addition to these, it has many functions such as homocysteine ​​metabolism and cysteine ​​synthesis, and the production of red blood cells.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency?

The deficiency of vitamin B6 can be caused by two different conditions. The first of these is the insufficient intake of vitamins into the body due to reasons such as irregular or unbalanced nutrition, low-calorie diet, or low consumption of foods with high vitamin B6 content. The other reason is the inability to benefit from the nutrients taken into the body sufficiently due to any disease that affects the digestive system and the absorption of nutrients. Vitamin B6 deficiency, which can occur in both cases, manifests itself with some symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Development of anemia due to decreased production of red blood cells
  • Constant fatigue, weakness, and low energy
  • Skin rashes
  • Cracking on the lips, dryness and flaking around the mouth and lips
  • The weak immune system, frequent infectious diseases
  • Numbness, tingling sensation in hands, feet, and fingers
  • Restlessness and constant moodiness in babies
  • Extreme morning sickness during pregnancy
  • Cognitive problems such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness

These symptoms may not be noticeable in mild vitamin deficiencies. If the vitamin deficiency continues for a long time and is not treated, the symptoms may intensify and reach a level that will affect daily life. In addition to the above symptoms, some scientific studies have concluded that vitamin B6 deficiency facilitates the development of cancer. It is emphasized that vitamin B6 deficiency may be a trigger factor especially in the stomach and esophageal cancers, and scientific research on this subject is still ongoing.

What does vitamin B6 have?

Vitamin B6 is a type of vitamin that is found in many food types. In people who follow an adequate and balanced diet plan and do not have any health problems, the need for vitamin B6 can be fully met with the consumed foods and no  supplements are required. If there is any disease that affects pregnancy, breastfeeding, digestion, and absorption or increases the vitamin requirement, certain changes can be made in the diet plan to increase vitamin B6 intake. Also, vitamin supplements containing vitamin B6 can be used with the recommendation of the physician in people with such special conditions or individuals with vitamin deficiency. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Turkey adults daily requirement of vitamin B6 is 1.3 milligrams. After the age of 51, the need for vitamins increases to 1.7 milligrams in men and 1.5 milligrams in women. While the daily requirement for pregnant women is 1.9 milligrams, it is around 2 milligrams for women who are breastfeeding. Foods containing high levels of this vitamin, which can be defined as the main sources of vitamin B6, are:

  • Legumes, especially chickpeas
  • Red and white meat
  • Milk and products
  • Fish and seafood
  • Egg
  • Carrots, spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower
  • Banana and avocado
  • Shelled nuts
  • Whole grains and fortified cereal products

What are the benefits of vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 has many positive effects on human health. To benefit from all these positive effects, a healthy and balanced diet and a sufficient amount of must be taken into the body. The most important benefits of vitamin B6 on human health can be listed as follows:

  • It protects the health of the brain and nervous system and protects against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • It reduces the risk of depression by improving mood.
  • It prevents the development of anemia by helping the production of hemoglobin.
  • It helps alleviate premenstrual syndrome (PMS) seen in women in the premenstrual period.
  • It protects against cardiovascular diseases by protecting vascular health.
  • It helps to reduce nausea seen during pregnancy.
  • It helps protect from cancer.
  • It is effective in protecting eye health.
  • It contributes to the treatment of inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

The healthiest way to benefit from the benefits of vitamin B6 is through a balanced diet. It may be necessary to benefit from  supplements in special conditions such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, old age, or in various chronic diseases that increase the requirement. In this case, the physician should be consulted, and the unconscious use of vitamin and mineral supplements should be avoided without a physician’s recommendation, as it may impair health. If you want to eat a healthy and balanced diet and thus protect your health, you can apply to a health institution and go through the control of a doctor and dietician and get detailed information about what kind of nutrition plan you should follow. Also, by having your routine blood tests done on time, you can determine possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies and lead a healthy life.