Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex group. The vitamin is needed to metabolize proteins and is important for a healthy immune system, nerves, bones and arteries. Vitamin B6 is a complex of three similar molecules: Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal and Pyridoxamine. All are present in foods and converted into pyridoxal-5-phosphate, the most active coenzyme form.
Vitamin B6's primary functions are in protein metabolism, transferring amino acid and sulfur groups. Roles in synthesis of heme (for hemoglobin), niacin, neurotransmitters, connective tissues, eicosanoids and sphingolipids in nerve sheaths are also essential. Vitamin B6 also participates in the utilization of glycogen and immune function.
Early vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms are primarily peripheral neuropathy, weakness, irritability, depression, insomnia and anxiety. More severe deficiency leads to dermatitis, nausea, vomiting and convulsions. Carpal tunnel syndrome, premenstrual tension syndrome and atherosclerosis may also be related to vitamin B6 deficiency. Sideroblastic anemia is indicative of vitamin B6 deficiency. Homocysteine levels in serum may be elevated by a vitamin B6 deficiency.
Prescription that may deplete your nutritional status
- Anti-inflammatories (steroids - Prednisone, Medrol, Aristocort & Decadron)
- Diuretics (Thiazide Diuretics - HCTZ, Enduron, Diuril, Lozol, Zaroxolyn, Hygroton and others)
- Cardiovascular Drugs (antihypertensives - catapres, aldomet)
- Antibiotics (Tetracyclines)
- Female Hormones (Estrogen/Hormone replacement, Oral contraceptives)
Dietary sources rich in vitamin B6 include:
- Nutritional supplements
- Wheat Germ
- Nutritional Yeasts
- Fortified Cereal Products