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Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine
An overview of vitamin B6
What is vitamin B6?This is another of the eight vitamins that make up the vitamin B-complex group. Technically, it is also called pyridoxine. The truth however, is that pyridoxine is just one of the six compounds that exhibit vitamin B6 properties. The vitamin is found in many foods.
What are the functions of vitamin B6 in the body?One of the functions is that it acts as a coenzyme where it supports over a hundred enzymatic reactions. Some of these include:
- Metabolism of proteins
- Metabolism of amino acid
- Metabolism of fats
- Metabolism of carbohydrates
- Synthesis of neurotransmitters
- Controls levels of homocysteine. This is amino acid that increases the risk of heart disease when too high in the body.
- Supports the production of lymphocytes
- Promotes the formation of hemoglobin
- Helps in the absorption of vitamin B12
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiencyThis deficiency is not very common. However, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center there are many people with mild deficiencies. While this may not cause overt symptoms, they may lead to persistent feeling of not being in your optimal health. One study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) may not be meeting the actual requirements of vitamin B6 for various groups of people. Low B6 levels usually affect the amounts of other vitamins in the B group. This is especially the case with folic acid (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12. Some of these symptoms include:
- Recall problems
- Poor focus and concentration
- General muscle weakness
- Anemia (microcytic in type)
- Skin problems
- Peeling and cracking lips
- Swollen and inflamed tongue
- Susceptibility to infections due to reduced immunity
- Seizures may occur mostly in children
Who is at a risk of vitamin B6 deficiency?
- People suffering from any type or stage of kidney disease. According to a study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition of 1987 showed that patients suffering from renal disease usually present with symptoms similar to those of vitamin B6 deficiency.
- Malabsorption disorders. This include inflammatory bowel diseases such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease
- Genetic abnormality in the management of homocysteine in the body where there is excess loss of this amino acid in the urine.
- Certain medications used in the treatment of convulsive disorders
- People suffering from autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Although many alcoholics don’t feed very well, the alcohol they take also lead to the production of a substance called acetaldehyde which interferes with the functions of pyridoxine.
- The elderly
- Severe and prolonged malnutrition
Sources of vitamin B6It is available in many foods of both plant and animal origin. Nutritional supplements are also available where the vitamin is usually one of the ingredients in a multivitamin or a vitamin-mineral supplement. It is also available as a vitamin B6 standalone supplement. Plant-based sources include:
- Whole grain flour
- Wheat germ
- Brown rice
- Boiled potatoes
How vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supports your healthThere are many benefits associated with vitamin B6. A few are discussed below.
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Reduces inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Supports normal glucose metabolism in the body
- Lowers the risk of cancer
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- It helps women reduce symptoms of morning sickness
- Helps in the management of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Other benefits of vitamin B5These include:
- Counteracts side effects of certain medication used in psychoses
- Supports serotonin production (reduces depression)
- Helps athletes and other sports people cope better
- Helps some autistic patients
- Helps in some serious forms of seizures.
- Supports a healthy pregnancy