Vitamin B6 is one of eight B vitamins and is essential for your metabolism, cardiovascular health, and much more. But because vitamin B6 is water-soluble, and not fat-soluble, it’s regularly flushed out of the body, and therefore needs to be consumed daily.
Here are eight health benefits of vitamin B6 and how to get enough of it in your diet.
1. Vitamin B6 helps turn food into energy
Along with other B vitamins, B6 assists the body in converting food into energy. It helps metabolize carbohydrates and works with enzymes to break down proteins into amino acids — compounds that help our body grow and function properly.
2. Vitamin B6 supports heart health
“Vitamin B6 works with two other B vitamins — B12 and folic acid — to reduce levels of homocysteine,” says Megan Wong, a registered dietitian at AlgaeCal, a calcium supplement company.
Hyperhomocysteinemia occurs when there are high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. High amounts of homocysteine can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis, a disease that causes plaque to build up in the arteries.
According to a 2015 report published in the Nutrition Journal, hyperhomocysteinemia can occur when someone is deficient in vitamin B6. But, with the right levels of B6 in combination with B12 and folic acid (B9), homocysteine levels can lower by up to a third. It’s important to note that despite lowered homocysteine levels, patients do not see an effect on vascular outcomes. Therefore, B-vitamins may play a more preventative role in heart health.
3. Vitamin B6 promotes healthy brain function
An increase in homocysteine levels can also speed up cognitive decline, says Wong. This uptick can lead to an increased risk of neurological conditions such as dementia.
In addition to regulating homocysteine levels, B6 plays a role in the synthesis of important neurotransmitters — chemical messengers used by the brain and nervous system. Some of the neurotransmitters B6 helps synthesize include:
- Dopamine: responsible for reward-seeking, motivation, and movement
- Serotonin: stabilizes mood, causes feelings of well-being and happiness.
- Melatonin: plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythm and ability to fall asleep
- Noradrenaline: produces the ‘fight or flight’ response in our body when we perceive danger
4. Vitamin B6 may help morning sickness
During pregnancy, anyone experiencing morning sickness is often prescribed a combination tablet of doxylamine — an antihistamine — and vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 has been shown to help with nausea while the doxylamine may reduce vomiting. A typical dose of the combination tablet is 10 mg to 25 mg, three times a day.
5. Vitamin B6 may treat seizures in newborns
Children diagnosed with pyridoxine‐dependent epilepsy (PDE) require between 15 to 500 mg of vitamin B6 a day for life. PDE is a rare, genetic condition that occurs within a few days of being…