Top 9 Health Benefits Of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) [with food sources, dosage and more]

Vitamin B6 is a star when it comes to improving your mood, maintaining a healthy heart, and more!

Did you know that vitamin B6 can have an impact on your mood, appetite, sleep, and thoughts? It is also referred to as pyridoxine. This article will give you an insight into some of the most important benefits that come with consuming Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine.

Does this article have a lot of science in it? Nope! 

We have added a glossary at the bottom of the page to give you an overview of this article.

What Is Vitamin B6 and What Does it Do?

Vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin, is a generic term for a group of vitamins with similar functions (vitamers)- pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL), pyridoxamine (PM), pyridoxine phosphate (PNP), pyridoxal phosphate (PLP), and pyridoxamine phosphate (PMP). 

You can find it throughout the body tissues; you can also find evidence of the numerous benefits of Vitamin B6 and its role in many metabolic activities. 

Deficiency of vitamin B6 can cause anemia, disturbances in the central nervous system, oral and dermal lesions, etc.

Did you know?

28-36% of the overall population uses vitamin supplements containing Vitamin B6 

Health Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

A few benefits of Vitamin B6 are:

1.Vitamin B6 for pregnancy

Ginger and vitamin B6 are often used to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It was also observed that pyridoxine is much more effective than ginger when given for a more extended period (60 days) [1]. 

Vitamin B6 supplementation as oral lozenges or capsules has also shown a decrease in dental decay in pregnant women [2].

Vitamin B6 supplementation may also help treat some cases of anemia, improve dental health, and also may have a significant effect on birth weight [2,3]

2. May improve mood and reduce depression

Pyridoxal phosphate is the cofactor of over 100 different enzymatic reactions, including those involved in synthesizing and breaking down neurotransmitters [4].

It is involved in the formation of serotonin- the hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of happiness, and well-being; dopamine- which helps you feel pleasure; and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps ease anxiousness and produce a calming effect [4].

Several studies have shown that deficiency of Vitamin B6 might cause depression, especially in older adults [5, 6, 7, 8].

Thus vitamin B6 is essential in regulating mood and reducing the risk of depression.

3. May support healthy hair

Vitamin B6 can support hair growth due to its role in protein metabolism. It can also help prevent chemotherapy-induced patchy hair loss (alopecia) [9]

A study evaluated the effectiveness of vitamin B6 in preventing hair loss and concluded that – intramuscular administration of B6 for a period of 20 to 30 days each, once every 6 months, improved hair condition and reduced hair loss in women [10].

4. Helps prevent and treat anemia

Hemoglobin is an important protein that helps exchange gases between blood and tissues. When your hemoglobin concentration is low, your cells might not get enough oxygen which can lead to weakness.

Pregnant women and even menstruating women are at a high risk of vitamin B6 deficiency. One of the main benefits of vitamin B6 is that it can help prevent and might even treat certain types of anemia due to its role in hemoglobin formation [11, 12].

5. May decrease Alzheimer’s risk and promote brain function

The deficiency of pyridoxal phosphate in the brain can lead to epilepsy [13]. 

It can also lead to increased homocysteine levels in the plasma, which can lead to Alzheimer’s [14].

In infants with seizures that can’t be controlled by medicines or infants with any inborn metabolism defects, treatment with pyridoxine or pyridoxal phosphate can be life-saving [13].

Vitamin B6 supplementation for individuals at risk might slow down cognitive decline. But more research is needed to prove such claims.

6. May promote cardiovascular health

Studies show that a low vitamin B6 level in the plasma is associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease [15].

Vitamin B6 can reduce the homocysteine levels in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) [16]. 

That being said, a recent study showed the ineffectiveness of B6 supplementation in reducing cardiovascular risk. A good amount of research is still needed to understand the exact mechanism by which vitamin B6 lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease [17].

7. May decrease the risk of cancer

Many animal and epidemiological studies have shown that the availability of vitamin B6 modifies cancer risk. Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with increased cancer risk, especially in older adults and alcoholics [18].

A few studies have also shown that a higher dietary intake of vitamin B6 and high pyridoxal phosphate levels can reduce cancer risk, probably by decreasing cell proliferation and enhancing immune response [19, 20].

However, few other studies mentioned no relation between vitamin B6 and cancer or pyridoxal phosphate levels and cancer. More randomized trials are needed to assess the exact role of vitamin B6 in preventing cancer [21,22]. 

8. May help maintain eye health

High homocysteine levels are associated with many eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, retinopathy, cataract, retinal vessel atherosclerosis, optic atrophy (damage of parts of neurons in the eye), etc. [23]. 

Getting enough vitamin B6 can reduce the plasma homocysteine levels and help prevent such eye damage [24].

9. May reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

Low plasma vitamin B6 levels are also associated with severity in symptoms and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis [25].

While a few studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplementation decreases inflammation and thus the disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis, few state that supplementation with vitamin B6 does not reduce inflammation [26,27].

While the contra-indicatory results of these studies might be due to differences in study period and dosages, high doses of vitamin B6 supplementation might reduce inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, vitamin B6 can also help in 

  • Reducing PMS symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, irritability, depression, and tiredness
  • Protecting from air pollution! B vitamins, including vitamin B6, can help protect you from very fine particle pollutants in the air by reducing the impact of pollution on your epigenome (chemicals that alter your genome).

How to Get Vitamin B6 Naturally?

Vitamin B6 is largely present in animal foods, mainly meat and in the form of pyridoxal phosphate. This is because the largest store of pyridoxal phosphate is in muscle tissue in animals [4]. 

In plant-based foods, vitamin B6 is mainly present as pyridoxine, pyridoxine phosphate, and pyridoxine glucoside. Pyridoxine glucoside is not that bioavailable because it needs to be broken down before it is made available [4]. 

When foods like soya meat substitutes are fortified with vitamin B6, the form of vitamin B6 is mostly pyridoxine [4]. 

Vitamin B6 in human breast milk is present in the form of pyridoxal and pyridoxal phosphate [4]. 

Animal sources of vitamin B6 are [28]

Food Source Amount of Vitamin B6 (in mg/100g)
Beef liver 1.03
Tuna (yellowfin) 0.93
Chicken liver 0.75
Salmon (Sockeye) 0.73
Chicken 0.51

Plant sources of vitamin B6 are [28]

Food Source Amount of Vitamin B6 (in mg/100g)
Pistachio 0.96
Walnut 0.8
Black gram, whole 0.53
Chickpeas, canned 0.5
Banana 0.44
Beans 0.31

Vitamin B6 Daily Requirements

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 for all ages is listed below [29

Age group RDA of Vitamin B6
Birth to 6 months 0.1 mg*
Infants (7-12 months) 0.3 mg*
Toddler (1-3 years) 0.5 mg
Children (4-8 years) 0.6 mg
Pre-teens (9-13 years) 1.0 mg
Teens – boys (14-18 years) 1.3 mg
Teens – girls (14-18 years) 1.2 mg
Adults (19-50 years) 1.3 mg
Older Adults – Male (50+ years) 1.7 mg
Older Adults – Female (50+ years) 1.5 mg

*Adequate Intake (AI).

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 for pregnant and lactating women of any age group is 1.9 mg and 2.0 mg respectively.

The average B6 intake in adults is about 2 mg/day in men and 1.5 mg/day in women [29].

Vitamin B6 Toxicity

The Tolerable Upper Intake levels (TUL) for Vitamin B6 are [29

Age group TUL 
Toddler (1-3 years) 30 mg
Children (4-8 years) 40 mg
Pre-teens (9-13 years) 60 mg
Teens (14-18 years) 80 mg
Adults (19+ years) 100 mg

Consuming Vitamin B6 in excess, i.e., more than TUL, causes toxicity. 

Toxicity of Vitamin B6 is not possible from food sources. Consuming oral doses of 100 mg of pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine is excreted unchanged in the urine [30]. 

However, those overdosing on vitamin B6 supplements (1-6g/day for 12- 40 months) might show symptoms like severe and progressive neuropathy characterized by loss of control of body movements [29].

The most common symptoms associated with vitamin B6 toxicity are also seen in its deficiency and include:[30]

  • Peripheral sensory neuropathy (numbness in extremities)
  • Loss of control of body movements
  • Loss of equilibrium
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pains
  • Muscle twitch
  • Abnormal increase in sensitivity to stimuli of sense etc.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

While high amounts of Vitamin B6 can lead to toxicity, deficiency of Vitamin B6 is associated with [11,29

  • Microcytic anemia (abnormally small and pale RBCs)
  • Dermatitis with scaling on the lips and cracks at corners of the mouth
  • Swollen tongue
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Swollen tongue
  • Lowered immunity
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Isolated vitamin B6 deficiency is uncommon but can be seen with other vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 and folic acid [29].

Groups at risk of vitamin B6 deficiency are

  • Alcoholics
  • Those with Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis
  • Those with kidney or liver disease
  • People with autoimmune inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • People with obesity

Vitamin B6 Supplements

Though you can get vitamin B6 from your diet, sometimes it might not be easy to get vitamin B6 through diet alone. If you suspect you have a vitamin B6 deficiency, you should consult a doctor and dietitian and take a multivitamin supplement or a stand-alone B6 supplement.

Vitamin B6 is mostly available in combination with other B vitamins as syrups or multivitamin tablets (including sublingual and chewable tablets) or capsules. It is also available as a stand-alone supplement.

The most common form of vitamin B6 used in multivitamins is pyridoxine (pyridoxine hydrochloride) or sometimes pyridoxal phosphate [29].

How to choose a vitamin B6 supplement?

  1. While picking a supplement, always ensure it is third-party tested.
  2. Look out for artificial colors and dyes
  3. Watch out for harmful fillers.
  4. Good brands will add labels of hypoallergenic, Non- GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian/vegan, etc.
  5. Look at the dosage of the vitamin.
  6. Make sure you get the most bioavailable form of Vitamin B6. 

Most supplements use inactivated pyridoxine. But some sources suggest that supplements that use the activated form (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) are better.

Always be on the lookout for additional ingredients since they could trigger allergic reactions if you are allergic to some substances.

Interactions of Vitamin B6 with Medications

A few drugs that can decrease absorption or increase the excretion of Vitamin B6 are [29

  • Antiepileptic drugs like phenytoin (Dilantin®), valproic acid (Stavzor®, Depakene®), and carbamazepine (Carbatrol®, Tegretol®, Epitol®, etc) 
  • Cycloserine (Seromycin®)
  • Theophylline (Aquaphyllin®, Theolair®, Truxophyllin®, Elixophyllin®, etc.)

Wrapping Up

Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin that the body needs for many functions. It is used in the body to make red blood cells and helps the body to metabolize macronutrients like carbohydrates and proteins. 

It is also important for maintaining eye health, cardiovascular health, reducing PMS symptoms, etc.

Without B6, we would not be able to convert food into energy, make antibodies, or make red blood cells. 

Most people get enough B6 in their diet without having to take a supplement. But if you are concerned about your Vitamin B6 levels, please get in touch with your physician or health care provider. 

What next?

Learn more about 

  1. The importance of nutrition
  2. Holistic health care- The 3 dimensions


Q: How much b6 for progesterone?

A: Increasing the amount of vitamin B6 taken each day to about 200-500 mg/day can increase your progesterone levels. That being said, it is best to work with your healthcare provider to get the required dose of vitamin B6 for optimal benefits.

Q: How long does it take for vitamin B6 to work?

A: It totally depends on the benefits of vitamin B6 you are looking for. 

B6 can help treat morning sickness even in durations less than 1 week. If you are considering taking vitamin B6 for PMS, it might take a bit longer- about 3 months to see a noticeable change.

Q: Can you take B6 on an empty stomach?

A: Vitamin B6, like any other B- vitamin, is an energy-boosting vitamin. So the best time to take B6 is in the morning on an empty stomach. But taking B6 on an empty stomach might cause nausea in some people. So better take it with a little food if you have a sensitive stomach.


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