August 29, 2016
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Vitamins and Calcium Supplements (cont.)

Medical Editor:

Vitamin B6

What is vitamin B6, and what does it do?

Vitamin B6 is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. It comes in three forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. It serves numerous functions in your body, including

  • red blood cell metabolism,
  • making hemoglobin,
  • assisting in the proper functioning of the nervous system,
  • assisting in the proper functioning of the immune system,
  • protein metabolism, and
  • synthesis of serotonin and norepinephrine.

How much vitamin B6 do I need to consume?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6 is:

Age Males Females Pregnancy Lactation
1 to 3 yrs 0.5 mg 0.5 mg N/A N/A
4 to 8 yrs 0.6 mg 0.6 mg N/A N/A
9 to 13 yrs 1.0 mg 1.0 mg N/A N/A
14 to 18 yrs 1.3 mg 1.2 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
19 to 50 yrs 1.3 mg 1.3 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
51+ yrs 1.7 mg 1.5 mg N/A N/A

There is insufficient information to establish an RDA for vitamin B6 for infants. In this case, an Adequate Intake (AI) has been established:

Age Males and Females
0 to 6 months 0.1 mg/day
7 to 12 months 0.3 mg/day

What are sources of vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found naturally in many foods and can also be found in foods that are fortified with it:

Food Amount Vitamin B6
Avocado, raw, California 1 oz 0.08 mg
Banana 1 medium 0.43 mg
Cereal, 100% fortified ¾ cup 2 mg
Chicken breast, meat only 3 oz 0.52 mg
Garbanzo beans ½ cup 0.51 mg
Lima beans, frozen, cooked ½ cup 0.10 mg
Oatmeal, instant, fortified 1 packet 0.42 mg
Peanut butter, smooth 1 tablespoon 0.09 mg
Pistachio nuts, dry roasted 1 oz (47 nuts) 0.36 mg
Pork loin, cooked 3 oz 0.42 mg
Potato, with skin 1 medium 0.47 mg
Roast beef, eye of round, cooked 3 oz 0.42 mg
Salmon, Sockeye, cooked 3 oz 0.19 mg
Soybeans, green ½ cup 0.05 mg
Spinach, frozen, cooked ½ cup 0.14 mg
Sunflower seeds, kernels 1 oz 0.23 mg
Tomato juice, canned 8 oz 0.27 mg
Trout, rainbow, cooked 3 oz 0.29 mg
Tuna, canned in water 3 oz 0.18 mg
Walnuts, English/Persian 1 oz 0.15 mg
Wheat bran ¼ cup 0.18 mg
Yogurt, plain, skim milk 8 oz 0.12 mg

Do I need to take a vitamin B6 supplement?

Vitamin B6 is available as pyridoxine hydrochloride in supplements. The requirements for vitamin B6 can easily be met with a well-balanced diet. When your diet is limited in variety, you may need to take a supplement. Older adults and alcoholics are people whose diets may be lacking and require supplementation. Studies have shown that supplementing with large doses of vitamin B6 can increase the immune response in critically ill patients.

What happens if I don't have enough vitamin B6?

In the early 1950s, an error in the manufacturing of baby formula lead to vitamin B6 deficiencies and caused seizures in the infants who were deficient in it. Other symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency are depression, confusion, sores or ulcers on the mouth, ulcers at the corners of the mouth, confusion, and irritability.

Is there such a thing as too much vitamin B6?

There are no documented health problems associated with consuming vitamin B6 from food sources. There have been problems associated with excess supplementation of vitamin B6. Large doses, above 1,000 mg/day, have been shown to cause sensory neuropathy. Symptoms of this include difficulty walking and pain and numbness of the extremities. There have even been some reported cases of this with doses under 500 mg/day. Even though this is a water-soluble vitamin, limits had to be set on how much can be safely consumed.

The Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) for vitamin B6 was set for the general population:

Age Males and Females
1 to 3 years 30 mg/day
4 to 8 years 40 mg/day
9 to 13 years 60 mg
14 to 18 years 80 mg
19+ years 100 mg
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2015


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