Another member of the B vitamin family is vitamin B6. B6 is also known as pyridoxine. As with the other B group vitamins, pyridoxine plays critical roles in the body. Here are some of the most important things that you need to know about this vitamin and why you should make sure you are getting enough.
The Basics of Vitamin B6
Pyridoxine has a role in ensuring the effectiveness of your metabolism. It helps break down the food that you eat, specifically proteins. B6 transforms these proteins into usable energy so as to sustain your activities right through the day.
But perhaps one of the most important functions of pyridoxine is its role in brain function. Vitamin B6 has a hand in the production of neurotransmitters, chemical substances found between nerve cells needed to make sure that brain signals are properly transmitted. This process is crucial for brain development and normal brain function. B6 is essential in producing hormones such as melatonin, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These hormones affect sleep, mood, appetite, digestion and memory. All great reasons to ensure you get enough pyridoxine every day.
Additionally, pyridoxine allows the immune system to produce antibodies that help fight off diseases and other forms of infection. The vitamin also helps with morning sickness related to pregnancy as well as in pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
Like all vitamins in the B group, pyridoxine is also water-soluble. That means that prolonged exposure to water, as what happens in boiling vegetable, dissolves it and it ends up disappearing along with the water.
Why You Need More Pyridoxine
Vitamin B6 deficiency is not very common but for those who are deficient, symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pains, confusion, depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, anemia, and frequent migraine headaches.
Studies have shown that the lack of pyridoxine may also lead to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. Research also revealed that the elderly are more likely to have a vitamin B6 deficiency and that this increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking Too Much Vitamin B6
As previously mentioned, pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin so it easily dissolves in your urine and is naturally flushed out of the body. This is why over dosage is not really common.
However, for people who take pyridoxine supplements while consuming processed food and drinks fortified with synthetic B vitamins, too much vitamin B6 may result to symptoms such as confusion, muscle numbness, pain, and weakness.
Sources of Vitamin B6
Here are foods that contain the highest levels of vitamin B6:
- Yellowfin Tuna
- Chicken Breast
- Cottage Cheese
Some breakfast cereals are also ‘fortified’ with vitamin B6.
You can download and print a large format version of our Vitamin B6 graphic here…
This is one of a series of posts on vitamins starting with vitamin A here…