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Introduction

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods and also added to many others (or fortified). Vitamin B6 is also available in many dietary supplements, including protein powders and multivitamins.

It is the generic name for six chemical compounds with vitamin B6 activity: pyridoxine, an alcohol; pyridoxal, an aldehyde; and pyridoxamine, which contains an amino group; and their respective 5’-phosphate esters. Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP) and pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate (PMP) are the active coenzyme forms of vitamin B6.

The richest sources of vitamin B6 include meats, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables. It can also be found in many citrus fruits.

B vitamins are essential for the body to convert the food we eat into the energy we need to function. B vitamins are important for metabolism, brain and liver function, growth, and building blood cells, as well as for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and vision. 

The Bottom Line – An essential B vitamin found naturally occurring in many foods.

Vitamin B6 Health Benefits

Vitamin B6 is essential for protein and amino acid metabolism which play keys roles in repairing the body, supporting the immune system, and contributing towards daily bodily functions including the brain and central nervous system.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

Vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Vitamin B6 is thought to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One trial which included more than 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease, found that supplementation for 5 years with vitamin B6 (50 mg/day), vitamin B12 (1 mg/day), and folic acid (2.5 mg/day) reduced homocysteine levels and decreased stroke risk by about 25% [1].

Vitamin B6 Can reduce your risk of certain cancers

Some research has associated low plasma vitamin B6 concentrations with an increased risk of certain kinds of cancer.

For example, a meta-analysis of prospective studies found that people with a vitamin B6 intake in the highest quintile had a 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those with an intake in the lowest quintile. [2]

Whilst more research in this area is needed to confirm if there is a direct correlation between the risk of cancer and B6 levels, preliminary evidence does seem to suggest that Vitamin B6 is beneficial when it comes to reducing your risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal.

How To Use Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide range of foods and can also be purchased in powder form and pill form as a supplement

The most common methods of taking Vitamin B6 are:

  1. Foods
  2. Capsule

The daily recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) of vitamin B6 are:

  • Infants 0-6 months – 0.1 mg
  • Infants 7-12 months – 0.3 mg
  • Children 1-3 years – 0.5 mg
  • Children 4-8 years – 0.6 mg
  • Children 9-13 years – 1 mg
  • Males 14-50 years – 1.3 mg
  • Males over 50 years – 1.7 mg
  • Females 14-18 years – 1.2 mg
  • Females 19-50 years – 1.3 mg
  • Females over 50 years – 1.5 mg
  • Pregnant women – 1.9 mg;
  • breast-feeding women – 2 mg

Recommended maximum daily Vitamin B6 intake:

  • Children 1-3 years – 30 mg
  • Children 4-8 years – 40 mg
  • Children 9-13 years – 60 mg
  • Adults, pregnant and breast-feeding women, 14-18 years – 80 mg
  • Adults, pregnant and breast-feeding women, over 18 years – 100 mg

Are There Any Foods That Contain Vitamin B6?

Chickpeas are thought to contain the highest natural amount of Vitamin B6. You can also find Vitamin B6 in meat, dairy, fortified dairy-free milks such as Soja milk and Oat milk, and many fortified vegetarian and vegan foods.

Vitamin B6 Side Effects List

Side effects usually only occur from excessive amounts of vitamin B6, and can include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Tingling, burning, or prickling sensation in the hands and feet

Note: these side effects are possible but may not be the typical user experience.

Is Vitamin B6 Safe?

Yes, vitamin B6 is essential for human health, growth, and development.

  • If you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding: It is safe to take.
  • If you’re a child under the age of 18: It is safe to take.

Has Vitamin B6 Been Linked To Any Deaths?

Vitamin B6 has not been linked to any deaths.

The Bottom Line – Vitamin B6 is essential for your health and you should make sure your daily intake meets the recommended guidelines.

Where Can I Buy Vitamin B6 & Do I Need A Prescription?

Vitamin B6 Extract is readily available to buy without a prescription from all good health stores, online retailers and some supermarkets.

Conclusion

Vitamin B6 is essential for human growth and development, it plays a key role in protein and amino acid metabolism which, in turn, helps to support your immune system, rebuild cells, muscle and tissues, and can also reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, and even reduce your risk of stroke.

It is important that you consume the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. This can be found in many foods such as chickpeas, meat, dairy and dairy free alternatives such as soya milk and oat milk.

Abbey Carlson, RD
Abbey Carlson, RD
Staff Writer & Fact Checker at DietProbe
Abbey is a registered dietitian who specializes in human nutrition and obesity prevention.
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Fact Checked


This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.