Vitamin B6 also known as pyridoxine primarily has importance in amino acid metabolism. From dietary sources Vitamin B6 converted in the body to its active form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (PLP)
Functions of Vitamin B6
PLP plays a central role in the metabolism and interconversion of amino acids and the synthesis of new proteins. For example, collagen synthesis is dependent on vitamin B6.
Maintenance of normal blood sugar levels
Vitamin B6 is vital for conversion of protein and carbohydrates stores into glucose to support blood sugar between meals.
Vitamin B6 plays a central role in fat metabolism. It is important for synthesis of lipids that form the myelin sheath surrounding and protecting nerves.
Vitamin B6 is essential for conversion of tryptofan to niacin.
Red blood cells function
Vitamin B6 is important in hemoglobin synthesis and oxygen transport by red blood cells.
Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and nor epinephrine.
Foods with Vitamin B6
Bananas, red meat, organ meats, poultry, fish, whole grain, cereals, legumes,
Enteric bacteria can make vitamin B6 in healthy persons.
About 96% of dietary vitamin B6 is absorbed. Infants need three times as much vitamin B6 as adults. Needs increase with increased protein intake, decrease with fatty acids, or decrease with other B-complex vitamins. High protein intake may deplete vitamin B6 levels.
Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency
- Convulsions in infants
- Muscular twitching
- Painful fissures and cracks on the angle of mouth and on the lips
- Sore throat
- Burning, tingling in hands and feet
- Difficulty in walking
- Reddened, greasy, Painful itchy patches on the skin
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Impaired immunity
The vitamin is widely distributed throughout the diet; deficiency is rare, except in alcoholics, individuals taken isoniazid without B6 supplementation, women taking oral contraceptives, and persons who have schizophrenia.
Increased risk of vitamin B6 deficiency
Alcoholism, use of certain medication (hydralazine, isoniazid, oral contraceptives, and penicillamine) elderly status, pregnancy, schizophrenia, and tuberculosis with isoniazid treatment and no vitamin replacement
Signs of excess
Sensory neuropathy with gait changes and peripheral sensation and muscle incoordination
Use of Vitamin B6 in prevention and therapy
Skin disorders – vitamin B6 may be of benefit in skin eruptions and rashes, including acne and seborrheic dermatitis.
Food allergy – vitamin B6 can reduce sensitivity and allergy to food additives and preservatives.
Atherosclerosis – vitamin B6 has multiple beneficial actions in the preservation and treatment of coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease.
Bronchial asthma – treatment with vitamin B6 can reduce severity and frequency of asthmatic episodes in children and adults.
Anaemia – vitamin B6 can be beneficial in certain forms of anaemia.
Pregnancy associated nausea and vomiting – vitamin B6 may reduce symptoms
Immunity – supplemental vitamin B6, particularly in people with marginal intakes, helps boost immunity and increase resistance to infection.