Vitamin B6: Benefits, Sources, Deficiencies

Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine; it is a water-soluble vitamin that was discovered by a Hungarian physician, Paul Gyorg, in 1934. Extracted from rice bran, it was used to treat a skin condition in rats called dermatitis acrodynia.

Later, Vitamin B6 was found to exist in two different forms, namely, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine, by Esmond E. Snell, who created the term pyridoxine.

A particular compound known as the Pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP) was found to be present in all forms of Vitamin B6, which serves as a cofactor of numerous enzymes present in the body. This function is carried out in the form of pyridoxal phosphate, which is an active form found in food.

Plasma PLP is a very common way of measuring the Vitamin B6 levels in the body. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has made use of a plasma PLP level of 20 nmol/L for calculating the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).

Benefits of Vitamin B6

B vitamins lend support to the adrenal glands’ functions that help to calm and uphold a healthy nervous system. They are extremely essential for key metabolic processes in the body. 

Vitamin B6 contributes to the production of neurotransmitters (a brain chemical substance), in which the chemicals let the brain and nerve cells communicate with one another in order to ensure that the metabolic processes such as fat and protein metabolism run efficiently. Proper functioning of metabolism is particularly important for older people.

Vitamin B6 is capable of curing a variety of health issues such as nerve compression (trapped nerve or pinched nerve), an arm condition that causes numbness, tingling, and other symptoms, or even premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

It also helps alleviate the symptoms of memory loss, asthma, kidney stone, cancer and arteriosclerosis. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is a chronic condition affecting millions of children today, has been cured by treatment with Vitamin B6.

Over-dosage of Vitamin B6 can prove to be toxic over a period of time and can result in conditions like immense nerve damage, or numbness and tingling to an extent that may eventually be irreversible

If you experience any of the above-mentioned signs or a certain unusual numbness develops in the body, you should immediately discontinue the dosage. 

Over-consumption of Vitamin B6 can also result in oversensitivity to sunlight, which in turn may lead to skin rashes and numbness, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and liver function issues.

Sources of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is readily available in meat products, vegetables, seeds and nuts, herbs, spices, legumes, molasses, animal liver. 

Almost every type of animal meat contains a good amount of vitamin B6. This includes chicken, mutton, beef, pork and even ham. A three-ounce serving of meat provides 1⁄2 mg. of Vitamin B6. Include a substantial amount of meat in your daily diet to reap more of the benefits of Vitamin B6.

Most green vegetables such as broccoli, celery, peas, and spinach are high in Vitamin B6 content. Additionally, asparagus, yams, turnips and potatoes also contain a good amount of B6. 

As far as fruits are concerned, bananas are rich in vitamin B6. Approximately 100 gm. of banana contains 0.3 mg of Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 is also present in seeds and nuts of all types. Sunflower or sesame seeds, which contain plenty of vitamin B6, can be used as a garnish for all your dishes. 

Similarly, cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, etc. contain not only Vitamin B6, but are packed with a lot of additional nutritive elements.

A variety of herbs and spices also contain a great amount of Vitamin B6. Though they are used in smaller quantities, regular consumption of spices and herbs will ensure that your diet is rich in Vitamin B6. 

Whole grain products incorporated in pizzas, waffles, hot dogs and burger buns can be highly beneficial in ensuring that you consume enough Vitamin B6.

Deficiency of Vitamin B6

Since Vitamin B6 can be found in all foods, a deficiency is very rare. There is, however, a possibility of a secondary deficiency occurring in the form of anaemia or seizures in small children

Once a diagnosis of Vitamin B6 deficiency has been made, the doctor would recommend treatment of oral dosage of Vitamin B6 tablets. 

The common symptoms indicating a deficiency include depression or confusion in grownups.

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