Also known as:
What does it do?
Vitamin B6 is the master vitamin in the processing of amino
acids—the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. Vitamin
B6 helps to make and take apart many amino acids and is also needed to
make serotonin, melatonin,
and dopamine. Vitamin B6 also aids in the formation of several
neurotransmitters and is therefore an essential nutrient in the regulation
of mental processes and possibly mood. To some extent, vitamin B6 lowers homocysteine
levels—a substance that has been linked to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis,
A link between vitamin B6
deficiency and carpal
tunnel syndrome has been reported in some, but not all,
Where is it found?
Potatoes, bananas, raisin bran cereal, lentils, liver, turkey, and tuna
are all good sources of vitamin B6.
likely to be deficient? Vitamin B6 deficiencies, although very rare,
cause impaired immunity, skin lesions, and mental confusion. A marginal
deficiency sometimes occurs in alcoholics, patients with kidney failure,
and women using oral
contraceptives. Many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that most
diets do not provide optimal amounts of this vitamin.
How much is usually
taken? The most common supplemental intake is 10–25 mg per day;
however, higher amounts (200–500 mg per day) may be recommended for
Are there any side effects or interactions? Although side
effects from vitamin B6 supplements are rare, at very high levels (200 mg
or more per day) this vitamin can eventually damage sensory nerves,
leading to numbness in the hands and feet as well as difficulty walking.
Vitamin B6 supplementation should be stopped if any of these symptoms
begin to develop.
Pregnant and lactating
women should not take more than 100 mg of vitamin B6. For other adults,
vitamin B6 is usually safe in amounts of 200–300 mg per day, although occasional problems have
been reported in this range.
Any adult taking more than 100–200 mg of vitamin B6 for more than a few
months should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor. Side effects from
vitamin B6 are dependent on the level of intake. No one should ever take
more than 500 mg per day,
even with clinical supervision.
vitamin B6 increases the bioavailability of magnesium,
these nutrients are sometimes taken together.