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Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): An Essential Vitamin

Pyridoxine or Vitamin B-6 is an essential vitamin that’s composed of 6 compounds (vitamers)
Pyridoxine B6 Essential Vitamin

Overview

​​Pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin needed for a wide range of metabolic, physiological, and developmental processes in the body. It’s a potent antioxidant and is beneficial to numerous health conditions, including PMS, nausea during pregnancy, and high homocysteine levels.  

Key Benefits

  • Promotes cardiovascular health
  • Supports healthy blood pressure
  • Helps lower homocysteine levels
  • Helps maintain the central nervous system 
  • Helps reduce muscle spasms and leg cramps
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Promotes brain health
  • Supports mood
  • Supports the reversal of anemia
  • Helps reduce PMS symptoms
  • Helps reduce nausea during pregnancy
  • Supports immunity

History of Usage

Pyridoxine or B6, an essential vitamin that was discovered in 1934 by Paul György and colleagues, and the active compound was first isolated by Samuel Lepovsky (1901–1984) of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1938.  The following year, Leslie Harris, Karl Folkers, Richard Kuhn, and his associates independently showed that vitamin B(6) was a pyridine derivative, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dihydroxy-methyl-2-methyl-pyridine. 

György proposed the term pyridoxine for this derivative. In 1942, Esmond Snell invented a microbiological growth assay that led to the identification of pyridoxamine, the animated product of pyridoxine, and pyridoxal, the formyl derivative of pyridoxine. Further research revealed that pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxine have nearly equal activity in animals and owe their vitamin activity to the organism’s ability to convert them into the enzymatically active form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate. Pyridoxal-5-phosphate is involved in many enzyme systems, particularly in the metabolic utilization and transformation of amino acids.

Biochemistry

Coenzyme Vitamin B6 participates in over 100 enzyme reactions, the majority of which have to do with protein metabolism. It has a wide range of functions in the body and is extremely versatile. It is particularly important for brain and nervous system functions. Furthermore, it is water-soluble and sensitive to oxygen and ultraviolet light. 

B6 is necessary for creating the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which regulate emotions. It is involved in the production of body proteins and structural compounds, red blood cells, prostaglandins, and chemical transmitters in the nervous system. It is also essential to maintaining a healthy immune system and hormonal balance. High levels of homocysteine, hypertension and high cholesterol can all be prevented with the help of vitamin B6. It also maintains a proper balance of sodium and phosphorus in the body, helps form antibodies, and helps build blocks of protein.

A deficiency of vitamin B6 can result in nervousness, insomnia, skin eruptions, loss of muscular control, anemia, mouth disorders, muscular weakness, dermatitis, arm and leg cramps, loss of hair, slow learning, and water retention.

In adults ages 18 to 50, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 1.3 milligrams. According to NLM, the RDA for men over 50 is 1.7 mg, and the RDA for women over 50 is 1.5 mg. 0.2 mg of vitamin B6 can be found in a cup of cooked kidney beans, while a large orange only has about 0.1 mg. 

Recent Trends

At a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% over the years 2021-2026, the global Vitamin B6 market is expected to reach $817.6 million in 2026, up from a 2020 valuation of $447.2 million.

Nutritional supplements, therapeutic products like capsules, tablets, and ampoules are some of the most common uses of vitamin B6.

Food fortification, nutritional supplements, and therapeutic products such as capsules, tablets, and ampoules are the most common uses of vitamin B6. It is also included in the B-complex vitamins that are widely used in the enrichment of cereals. 

Most supplements contain inactivated pyridoxine, but the activated pyridoxal-5-phosphate, (abbreviated as PLP) form may be better.

Precautions

  • Taking 250 mg of vitamin B6 can result in: ataxia (a lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements), dizziness, skin lesions, heartburn and nausea, photosensitivity, numbness, and/or reduced ability to feel pain or extreme temperatures. But these symptoms can occur in individuals who take as little as 100 mg a day.
  • Individuals who take the following drugs should not take vitamin B6 supplements: altretamine, barbiturates, anticonvulsants, and levodopa. 
References
  1. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Cholin. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.
  2. Hellmann H, Mooney S. Vitamin B6: a molecule for human health? Molecules. 2010 Jan 20;15(1):442-59. doi: 10.3390/molecules15010442. PMID: 20110903; PMCID: PMC6257116.
  3. Smith AD, Smith SM, de Jager CA, Whitbread P, Johnston C, Agacinski G, Oulhaj A, Bradley KM, Jacoby R, Refsum H. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2010 Sep 8;5(9). pii: e12244.
  4. Kelland, K. “B vitamins found to halve brain shrinkage in old.” Reuters Health Information. Medline Plus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_103100.html
  5. Vutyavanich T, Wongtra-ngan S, Ruangsri R. Pyridoxine for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Sep;173(3 Pt 1):881-4. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)90359-3. PMID: 7573262.
  6. Simpson JL, Bailey LB, Pietrzik K, Shane B, Holzgreve W. Micronutrients and women of reproductive potential: required dietary intake and consequences of dietary deficiency or excess. Part I–Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2010 Dec;23(12):1323-43. doi: 10.3109/14767051003678234. Epub 2010 Apr 7. PMID: 20373888.
  7. Lin PT, Cheng CH, Liaw YP, Lee BJ, Lee TW, Huang YC. Low pyridoxal 5′-phosphate is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease. Nutrition. 2006 Nov-Dec;22(11-12):1146-51. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2006.08.013. Epub 2006 Oct 10. PMID: 17045461.
  8. Rosenberg IH. A history of the isolation and identification of vitamin B(6). Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;61(3):236-8. doi: 10.1159/000343113. Epub 2012 Nov 26. PMID: 23183295.
  9. Hadtstein F, Vrolijk M. Vitamin B-6-Induced Neuropathy: Exploring the Mechanisms of Pyridoxine Toxicity. Adv Nutr. 2021 Oct 1;12(5):1911-1929. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmab033. PMID: 33912895; PMCID: PMC8483950.
  10. Spinneker A, Sola R, Lemmen V, Castillo MJ, Pietrzik K, González-Gross M. Vitamin B6 status, deficiency and its consequences–an overview. Nutr Hosp. 2007 Jan-Feb;22(1):7-24. PMID: 17260529.
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