Jess says: Like many doctors, I was taught to mainly think about thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin B12 when considering low B vitamin levels in patients. Vitamin B6 has emerged as being just as critical for our overall health. It is particularly important for regulating the brain and mood. Vitamin B6 is a necessary cofactor for making serotonin (our happy hormone), dopamine (helps motivation) and GABA (calms the nervous system), all of which are important neurotransmitters in the brain. Consider supplementing with a good multivitamin, if you suspect your levels may be low.
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin (carried in the bloodstream and eliminated in the urine) that is often unwittingly destroyed in food, when cooked or heated. It is a critical vitamin for the brain and nervous system, helping make myelin, a protective fat around our nerves. It is also very important for making blood, improving protein metabolism and boosting our immune function.
B6 is important for the immune system and inflammation. Vitamin B6 has been shown to be low in inflammatory conditions. A deficiency increases the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular (heart disease and stroke) and some cancers.1 When vitamin B6 was given to critically ill patients over two weeks, there was a significant improvement in their immune system cells.2
Vitamin B6 has also been shown to be a powerful antioxidant and may reduce homocysteine levels, a powerful amino acid that affects our heart and blood vessels.3
B6 is essential for forming neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and GABA in our brain, that regulate our mood. Low vitamin B6 levels have been associated with depression.4 The combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation has been shown to help treat symptoms of severe stress.5
Patients at risk of Vitamin B6 deficiency are those with a poor diet and women taking…
- Ueland PM, McCann A, Midttun Ø, Ulvik A. Inflammation, vitamin B6 and related pathways Mol Aspects Med. 2017 Feb;53:10-27. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2016.08.001. Epub 2016 Sep 1. PMID: 27593095.
- Cheng CH, Chang SJ, Lee BJ, Lin KL, Huang YC. Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;60(10):1207-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602439. Epub 2006 May 3. PMID: 16670691.
- Biselli PM, Sanches de Alvarenga MP, Abbud-Filho M, Ferreira-Baptista MA, Galbiatti AL, Goto MT, Cardoso MA, Eberlin MN, Haddad R, Goloni-Bertollo EM, Pavarino-Bertelli EC. Effect of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 intake and MTHFR C677T polymorphism on homocysteine concentrations of renal transplant recipients Transplant Proc. 2007 Dec;39(10):3163-5. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2007.08.098. PMID: 18089344.
- Hvas AM, Juul S, Bech P, Nexø E. Vitamin B6 level is associated with symptoms of depression Psychother Psychosom. 2004 Nov-Dec;73(6):340-3. doi: 10.1159/000080386. PMID: 15479988.
- Pouteau E, Kabir-Ahmadi M, Noah L, Mazur A, Dye L, Hellhammer J, Pickering G, Dubray C. Superiority of magnesium and vitamin B6 over magnesium alone on severe stress in healthy adults with low magnesemia: A randomized, single-blind clinical trial PLoS One. 2018 Dec 18;13(12):e0208454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208454. PMID: 30562392; PMCID: PMC6298677.