The Benefits of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
By: Dr. George Obikoya
Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin that is important
in protein metabolism and the function of a number of enzymes in
the body. It promotes healthy skin, is essential for maintaining
a healthy nervous system and also for the formation of hemoglobin
in red blood cells and antibodies that help fight infection. Vitamin
B6 It occurs in three forms: pyridoxine (or pyridoxol), pyridoxal,
and pyridoxamine. It is often used to supplement diet in the pre-menstrual
part of the cycle.
Pyridoxine was first isolated in 1938 and synthesized in 1939. Pyridoxal and pyridoxamine, which were discovered in the 1940s, are responsible for most of the vitamin B6 activity in organisms.
Vitamin B6 is active in its coenzyme form of pyridoxol phosphate and functions in the formation and breakdown of amino acids, and hence indirectly of protein, in our body. It is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin and norepinephrine (two neurotransmitters) and of heme (a molecular constituent of hemoglobin).
No human disease has been found to be caused by a deficiency of vitamin B6 in the diet, although certain human ailments of obscure origin respond to its administration. In experimental animals, vitamin B6 deficiency produces symptoms that depend to some extent on the other constituents of our diet. Anaemia; dry, cracked lips; red and inflamed tongue; sensation of burning skin can, however, occur as a result of vitamin B6 deficiency.
About 1950 vitamin B6 deficiency was produced experimentally in human infants. In infants the deficiency first manifests itself in a convulsion that is readily controlled by administration of the vitamin. Many cases of such convulsions have been reported in infants fed a human-milk substitute with insufficient amounts of vitamin B6. Because heat treatment of cows' milk destroys the vitamin, the deficiency can be corrected by altering the processing of the milk. An adult human needs 2.0 to 2.2 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
We all need regular intake of vitamin B6, but more especially women taking the combined contraceptive pill, older people (over 55), vegetarians and vegans and those who consume large amounts of alcohol.
Vitamin B6 plays a major role in making proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells). Because mild deficiency of vitamin B6 is common, this is one vitamin that is probably worth taking as insurance.
There's good evidence that adequate intake of vitamin B6 can help prevent heart disease and reduce the nausea of morning sickness. There is a connection between heart disease and low levels of vitamin B6. People with the high vitamin B6 levels are about 30% less likely to develop heart disease than those with the low vitamin B6 levels. Vitamin B6 may help the heart in several ways. Preliminary studies suggest that it can reduce the tendency of platelets in the blood to form clots, and also lower blood pressure to some extent.
Vitamin B6 Vitamin B6 supplements have been used for years by conventional physicians as a treatment for morning sickness. It is also widely recommended for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and asthma. When combined with magnesium, vitamin B6 may be helpful for autism.
Vitamin B6 is safe to take up to 100mg per day on a long term basis, although high levels of up to 200mg have not been shown to cause problems. 100mg of Vitamin B6 in long term usage and 200mg in short term usage are upper safe levels. However, at higher dosages (especially above 2 g daily) there is a very real risk of nerve damage.
Vitamin B6 requirements increase with age. The U.S. Dietary Reference
Intake (formerly known as the Recommended Dietary Allowance) is
Infants 0-5 months, 0.1 mg
6-11 months, 0.3 mg
Children 1-3 years, 0.5 mg
4-8 years, 0.6 mg
9-13 years, 1.0 mg
Males 14-50 years, 1.3 mg
51 years and older, 1.7 mg
Females 14-18 years, 1.2 mg
19-50 years, 1.3 mg
51 years and older, 1.5 mg
Pregnant women, 1.9 mg
Nursing women, 2.0 mg
Severe deficiencies of vitamin B6 are rare, but mild deficiencies are extremely common. In a survey of 11,658 adults, 71% of men and 90% of women were found to have diets deficient in B6.1 Vitamin B6 is the most commonly deficient water-soluble vitamin in the elderly,2 and children, too, don't get enough.3
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