Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for a wide variety of chemical reactions, including the metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. It is also essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which is why low levels of this vitamin can lead to anemia. Side effects that have been reported with this supplement include nausea, abdominal pain, and headaches.
What Is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for many different chemical reactions in the body. It is claimed to be beneficial for a variety of different uses (although some uses are more credible than others).
The main role of vitamin B6 in the body is to work as a coenzyme in numerous different chemical reactions. This means that vitamin B6 helps enzymes to work properly. It is important for a wide variety of reactions, including the metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.
Vitamin B6 is also important for the formation of hemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. This is why low vitamin B6 can lead to anemia.
Low vitamin B6 can increase levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can cause problems if it builds up to high levels. In particular, it is thought that high homocysteine may contribute to problems such as cardiovascular disease or blood clots. Vitamin B6 decreases homocysteine levels after meals (but does not really affect fasting homocysteine levels). Low levels of vitamin B6 may also increase levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory molecule that may be related to heart disease and several other medical conditions.
The vitamin may also have antioxidant properties. In addition, it may decrease kidney stone formation by decreasing the amount of oxalate (a component of some types of kidney stones) excreted in the urine. It is also thought that vitamin B6 may increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is why some people think it may be useful for treating depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed October 13, 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: vitamin B6 (8/24/2007). NIH Web site. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb6.asp. Accessed October 13, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline (2000). Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/books/0309065542/html/. Accessed October 13, 2008.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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