Vitamin B6, also known by its chemical name, pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves in water rather than in fat. Thus, any excess is excreted from the body, so excess amounts are usually not a problem. B-6 is one of the B-complex vitamins.
What food source is the nutrient found in?
Vitamin B6 is found in legumes such as peas and beans, nuts, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains and fortified breads and cereals.
How does the nutrient affect the body?
Vitamin B6 helps the body:
- build protein
- make antibodies, which are key to a strong immune system
- make hormones
- make red blood cells and keep nerve tissue healthy
- process and digest protein
The Recommended Dietary Allowance, called RDA, for vitamin B6 for men and women age 19-50 is 1.3 milligrams (mg) per day; for men 51 and over it is 1.7 mg and for women 51 and over, 1.5 mg. Pregnant women need 1.9 mg per day, and breastfeeding women, 2.0 mg. People who eat a well-balanced diet should get enough vitamin B6. Most people do not need to take supplements.
Someone with a vitamin B6 deficiency can suffer from:
- mouth sores
- convulsions, which are sudden, uncontrollable muscle spasms
A person can get too much vitamin B6. This only happens when high doses, more than 50 to 500 times the RDA, are taken over months or years. This can cause temporary or permanent nerve damage.