Vitamin B6 performs more than a hundred different functions, countless times a day. It is coenzyme, which means it helps enzymes in accelerating biochemical reactions in cells.
The other name of that vitamin is pyridoxine. In dietary supplements it comes as pyridoxine hydrochloride or pyridoxal-5-phosphate. Both forms meet most of the body’s needs, but physicians recommend pyridoxal-5-phosphate because it is better absorbed.
How does it work?
These are just some of the role of vitamin B6: red blood cell production, participation in protein production, the formation of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, release of stored energy… There are some evidences that talk about its importance in preventing many diseases.
PREVENTION: a sufficient amount of vitamin B6 (taken with food or as dietary supplements) can help prevent heart disease. Together with folic acid and vitamin B12, it is involved in the processing of homocysteine, substances similar to amino acids, whose increased amount is associated with higher risk of developing heart disease and other blood vessel disorders.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: vitamin B6 can help alleviate the problems of some women who are suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This effect is probably a consequence of its effect on the removal of excessive amounts of estrogen from the body. Since it is involved in the creation of a neurotransmitter, vitamin B6 can help prevent epileptic seizures as well as improve the mood of people suffering from depression. It should be said that up to 25% of people with depression are suffering from vitamin B6 deficiency.
This vitamin is also essential for healthy nerves. That’s why dietary supplements with vitamin B6 can help diabetics, where the risk of nerve damage is increased. They are also effective in alleviating the symptoms of carpal canal syndrome, condition of a nerve inflammation in the area of the wrist. As for asthma, it should be said that this vitamin reduces the frequency and severity of seizures; this applies in particular to patients who use theophylline in therapy.
How much vitamin B6 is needed?
The recommended daily dose is 1.4 mg for men and 1.2 mg for women. Therapeutic doses are higher.
IF YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE: one recent study has shown that almost a fifth of women do not intake the recommended amount of this vitamin. Sometimes, particularly low levels of vitamin B6 is in women who take oral contraceptives. In slight deficiency, the level of homocysteine increases and, with it, the risk of heart and blood vessels diseases. Symptoms of deficiency are skin diseases, such as dermatitis, mouth sores and acne. Insomnia and depression can also occur and, in cases of extremely small amounts of vitamin B6 in the body, epileptic seizures and abnormality of brainwaves.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH: if large amounts of vitamin B6 (more than 2000 mg per day) are taken over a long period of time, nerve damage may occur. Small doses (less than 200 mg per day) and long-term use may rarely have the same effect. Fortunately, if you stop taking too much vitamin B6, you will achieve complete recovery. If you experience a weakened sensation or numbness when taking vitamin B6, stop taking the preparation and consult your doctor. Doses up to 10 mg per day are safe during long-term use, and you can take up to 200 mg per day for a shorter time.
How to take it?
DOSAGE: to control homocysteine levels, 3 mg of vitamin B6 is enough, but daily doses up to 50 mg are often recommended. Therapeutic doses are higher.
In PMS: take 100 mg per day.
In the treatment of acute carpal tunnel syndrome: Try taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 or pyridoxal-5-phosphate three times a day.
For asthma: take 50 mg of this vitamin, twice a day.
USE GUIDELINES: the best absorption is achieved if the individual dose is not greater than 100 mg. If you take higher doses, gradual increase of the amount of this vitamin can reduce the risk of nerve damage.
Good sources of vitamin B6 include fish, poultry, meat, chickpea, potatoes, avocados and bananas.
IMPORTANT: long-term administration of large doses of vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage.