Vitamin B6

Facts & Recommendations

Vitamin B6 is naturally occurring in three forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. It is commonly named pyridoxine.

This vitamin plays a role in protein metabolism as well as in cognitive development through the synthesis of neurotransmitters and in maintaining normal levels of homocysteine.

Sources

Fish, (organ) meat, starchy vegetables (like potatoes), fruits, cereals, milk and cheese.

Bioavailability

The bioavailability of vitamin B6 from a mixed diet is estimated at about 75% and from dietary supplement at 90%.

Properties

The water-soluble vitamin B6 is, likewise all other B vitamins, extremely sensitive to light and to heat.
When possible, avoid prolonged cooking of food rich in vitamin B6 in order to preserve it.

Pyridoxine is absorbed through the small intestine and primarily stored in the liver, but in very small amounts. Since its half-life is short, a continuous nutritional supply of this vitamin is necessary.

It is involved in the utilisation of magnesium.

The most commonly forms used in dietary supplements is pyridoxine in the form of pyridoxine hydrochloride.

Functions 

Part of vitamin B6 role in the body is to produce norepinephrine and serotonin, two essential neurotransmitters which are involved in several metabolic functions. It plays a role as a coenzyme in haemoglobin biosynthesis too.

Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity too. During pregnancy it can hence help to attenuate nausea and vomiting which most likely result from the excessive production of the gestational hormons hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), estrogen and progesterone.

You will also benefit in other ways from vitamin B6: it supports the immune system, reduces fatigue and contributes to a normal red blood cell formation. It is a relevant point since the blood volume significantly increase during pregnancy (about 50%).

In association with folic acid and vitamin B12, pyridoxine regulates the homocysteine level in blood (homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino-acid which at high concentration in blood is associated with cardiovascular disease). 

Consequences of a vitamin B6 deficiency

As for vitamin B1, nutritional deficiency for vitamin B6 is uncommon.

However, a reduction of vitamin B6 blood concentration at the beginning of pregnancy has been observed.

Furthermore, excessive vomiting in pregnancy can cause pyridoxine depletion, in which case prenatal vitamins containing pyridoxine and other B vitamins may be beneficial.

Vitamin B6 deficiency during pregnancy can affect foetal brain development, as well as weight gain and growth in infancy.

Some diseases such as renal disease, celiac and Crohn’s disease, as well as ulcerative colitis can specifically lead to a B6 deficiency because the absorption of pyridoxine is impaired.

Suboptimal vitamin B6 status is associated with diseases that particularly afflict the elderly population such as impaired cognitive function, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. These may be related to the elevated homocysteine concentrations associated to vitamin B6 deficiency.

Recommendations

Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplementation helps reducing the severity of nausea during pregnancy.

The Duo vitamin B1 und vitamin B6 has proven to be even more efficient when taken together.

Nausema®, combining both vitamins and vitamin B12, has been specially developed to help relieving the discomfort of the so-called morning sickness.

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