Vitamin B6: What Does Pyridoxine Do and Do I Need It?

History

Vitamin B6 was discovered in 1934. It has enjoyed a relatively obscure place in vitamin history; however, recently it has been discussed as a potential treatment for premenstrual syndrome as well as carpal tunnel. There are three forms of the vitamin: Pyridoxine (PN), Pyridoxamine (PM) and pyridoxal (PL). PN is found in many plants while PM and PL are found in animals.

Vitamin B6 plays a major role in the ability of the liver to produce amino acids that your body requires. Many amino acids are not essential and are actually made by the body. Vitamin B6 comes into play here.

Benefits and Uses

In the past 20 years, vitamin B6 research has taken off. It has been shown that it is involved in the immune system, cognitive abilities and the body’s use of certain hormones. It may even have a role in the metabolism of cholesterol. It may keep cholesterol from rising or it may even help lower cholesterol. At any rate, it does seem to help lower the risk factors of homocysteine and heart disease.

Women have found vitamin B6 to be helpful against premenstrual syndrome. Studies have shown that vitamin B6 may eliminate or at least be helpful in staving off symptoms.

Daily Intake

The Recommended Daily Intake of vitamin B6 is 2 mg. Excellent sources of vitamin B6 include eggs, pork, liver, kidney, fish and chicken. The vitamin is also found in legumes and some whole grains. However, red meat and dairy foods are relatively low in B6.

Many medications will interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize vitamin B6. Oral contraceptives are at the top of the list. Moreover, alcohol actually destroys vitamins B6. Symptoms of deficiency in vitamin B6 include general weakness, irritability as well as insomnia. If deficiency continues, the immune system will weaken, nerve function will decrease and convulsions may result.

Some who have taken 1000 times the Recommended Daily Intake of vitamin B6 (2,000 mg) for 6 months reported various nerve function difficulties. Within six months there was complete recovery after having ceased taking vitamin B6.

Another study showed that men suffering from carpal tunnel that had significantly lower levels of vitamin B6 reported more pain than other men with carpal tunnel. The same study also showed that the ratio between vitamin C and vitamin B6 were associated with symptoms.

References

Lieberman, Shari, "The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book"

Reinhard, Tonia, "The Vitamin Sourcebook"

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