Fact Sheet: Essential Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is required for several bodily functions. They include brain and immune system function, blood oxygenation, and maintenance of blood glucose levels. It is an essential vitamin meaning the body cannot manufacture it and so it must be consumed in wither the diet or in supplements.

Hemoglobin in the blood is responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues and organs of the body in red blood cells. Vitamin B6 is required for the formation of hemoglobin and for the amount of oxygen that hemoglobin can carry.

In the immune system, vitamin B6 is responsible for the creation of white blood cells and to keep this system functioning normally. A low production of antibodies and immune system suppression have both been found to be a result of a deficiency in B6.

B6 is also required for the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin, important neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the daily nerve functions in the brain.

Maintaining proper blood glucose levels is an additional function of vitamin B6. If it is the case that there is not enough glucose in your blood, B6 takes stored carbohydrates and turns them into glucose.

There are quite a few foods that contain vitamin B6. These include, but are not limited to, bananas, cereal, oatmeal, spinach, and pork. There is a recommended daily intake of 1.5mg for women over 51, 1.7mg for men over 51, and 1.3mg for adults between the ages of 19 and 50. The upper safety limit has been determined to be 100mg per day.

Depression, anemia, convulsions, skin inflammation, and a sore tongue are all signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency. This is quite uncommon in North America and only occurs after an extended period of inadequate intake. The deficiency normally only occurs in those who suffer from alcoholism, those who cannot consume enough in their diet, and those over the age of fifty years.

This vitamin has also been taken as a treatment for carpel tunnel syndrome on occasion. There is a lack of supporting scientific evidence for this treatment so it is not recommended.

Too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage in the arms and the legs. It can also cause neuropathy which has been found to be reversible if the sufferer stops taking supplements.

The best way to obtain any vitamin or mineral is through a well-balanced diet. All the B6 necessary for a healthy body is consumed through a good diet. If, however, you are concerned that you are not getting all the B6 you need in your diet you should consult with your physician. Blood tests can reveal any deficiencies in vitamin and mineral intake and your physician will be able to recommend a proper course of action.