Vitamin B6, also known Pyridoxine is one of the water-soluble B vitamins that is extremely essential for healthy brain development and boosting the immune system. It holds high significance in helping the body to produce neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.
Vitamin B6 is the common generic name given to six compounds (i.e. vitamers) with vitamin B6 activity such as pyridoxine, i.e. alcohol; pyridoxal, i.e. an aldehyde; and pyridoxamine, which contains an amino group; and their respective 5’-phosphate esters. Pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate (i.e. PMP) and pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (i.e. PLP) are the active coenzyme forms of vitamin B6. Also Read: Vitamin B5: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiencies and Toxicity
Both the active forms of vitamin B6 i.e. PLP and PMP assists as coenzymes in several enzymatic reactions including amino acid, glucose, and lipid metabolism. It also plays a key role in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, metabolism of nutrients, synthesis and function of histamines, haemoglobin, neurotransmitters and also in the expression of genes.
Vitamin B6 also facilitates the body in breaking down food i.e. complex carbohydrates into simple forms of sugar i.e. glucose, fats and proteins which in turn provides energy for carrying out various bodily activities. It also synthesizes amino acids and proteins and helps in the formation of the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves.
Vitamin B6 was first discovered by Paul Gyorgy, a Hungarian physician, who discovered it as a substance that was able to cure a skin disease in rats (i.e. dermatitis acrodynia).
Vitamin B6 is a potent neural compound that is extremely essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It is also required for the proper growth, development and functioning of the brain, nerves, skin, and other parts of the body.
Several types of research suggest that vitamin B6 is extremely essential for treating heart problems, alcohol addiction, cataract, glaucoma, diabetic pain, cerebellar syndrome (a type of brain damage), canker sores, motion sickness, kidney disease, AIDS and menstrual problems.
Vitamin B6 is usually consumed by people for boosting immunity, improving athletic performance and muscle strength, preventing kidney disease in type 2 diabetic patients and cervical cancer.
It is generally taken by people to alleviate the risks and symptoms of pyridoxine deficiency like conjunctivitis, intertrigo, atrophic glossitis, angular cheilitis, and neurologic symptoms like confusion, irritability and neuropathy (due to impaired sphingosine synthesis) and sideroblastic anaemia (due to impaired haem synthesis).
B6 vitamin plays a significant role in boosting heart health. It effectively reduces cholesterol and prevents the risk of cholesterol-related heart issues like heart block, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, etc. It lowers high blood pressure and prevents heart failure. Also Read: World Heart Day: 5 Simple Ways To Care For Your Heart
Vitamin B6 is a powerful antioxidant and hence helps to scavenge harmful free radicals from the body and thus preventing oxidative damage. It also rejuvenates the skin, reduces various signs of ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, spots, dark circles etc.
Being a potent brain compound, it plays a key role in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. The pivotal role it plays in the synthesis of neurotransmitters is helping the brain to regulate mood swings and also prevent depression, anxiety, pain and fatigue. It also boosts the production of progesterone and keeps the hormonal balance under control.
Vitamin B6 is also extremely important for vision as it helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The supplements and foods containing the B6 vitamin are also found to be effective in treating diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis. It helps in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, thus improving digestion.
Vitamin B6 has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Regular intake of this vitamin through food sources reduces the pain and inflammation in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. In supplement form, it also prevents the risk of kidney stones in people suffering from hyperoxaluria.
Vitamin B6 is also highly beneficial for metabolising cholesterol. It keeps a healthy balance of the cholesterol levels in the blood. It lowers the level of bad cholesterol (i.e. LDL or Low-Density Lipoprotein) and ups the level of good cholesterol (i.e. HDL or High-Density Lipoprotein). Also Read: 5 Superfoods To Keep Good Cholesterol Up
When taken orally, it also prevents various PMS symptoms like mood swings, anxiety and irritability during the menstrual cycle and also significantly reduces uncomfortable symptoms of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This anti-stress compound helps the body produce melatonin, which improves the quality of sleep and prevents insomnia, and helps the body to deal with tiredness and stress.
The mood-control vitamin is extremely vital for the healthy functioning of the brain and body. Like any other water-soluble vitamins, this B6 vitamin also gets washed away from the body, hence one should consume a diet rich in vitamin B6 food options to prevent the deficiency syndromes. And much to our respite, Mother Nature has blessed us with a bountiful amount of natural food sources laden with vitamin B6 that suffices our daily requirements.
Following are the food sources high in vitamin B6:
Vegetable sources include potato, sweet potato, bitter gourd, bitter melon, carrot, spinach, green peas, plantain, and avocado.
Fruit Sources include banana, papaya, orange, cantaloupe, durian and plum.
Legumes include chickpeas, soybeans, beans, tempeh and lentils.
Nuts and seeds include pistachio, sunflower seeds and Chinese chestnuts.
Grain products and cereals include waffles, wheat bran, fortified cereals and oatmeal.
Dairy products include milk and ricotta cheese.
Animal sources include eggs and chicken and other forms of meat, and fishes like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel etc.
Deficiency syndromes due to vitamin B6 is quite uncommon but a severe lack of this significant vitamin may cause electroencephalographic abnormalities, microcytic anaemia, glossitis (swollen tongue), dermatitis with cheilosis (scaling on the lips and cracks at the corners of the mouth), conjunctivitis, intertrigo, depression, confusion, and weakened immune function. Kids and infants having a lack of vitamin B6 develop abnormally acute hearing, irritability and convulsive seizures.
In certain severe cases, vitamin B6 deficiency syndromes may occur in people suffering from chronic renal insufficiency, end-stage renal diseases, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, alcoholism and homocystinuria.
Although lack of vitamin B6 causes a lot of deficiency syndromes, it is also not beneficial to overload your body with too much od vitamin B6 foods or supplements. The Recommended Dietary Intake of this essential nutrient is 100 mg per day for adults. Anything more than the recommended amount can cause severe and progressive sensory neuropathy characterized by ataxia (loss of control of bodily movements), painful disfiguring dermatological lesions, photosensitivity, and gastric issues, like loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, tingling, sleepiness and heartburn.
Hence, it can be concluded that Vitamin B6 is a quintessential nutrient necessary for the treatment of umpteen number of ailments including neural disorders, hyperlipidaemia, heart problems, skin infections, headaches, and insomnia. Hence, it is strongly advocated to use it within the prescribed quantity to steer clear of harmful side effects and enjoy the health benefits.