Top 8 Benefits of Vitamin B6

Jul 21, 2022 Vitamins & Supplements

Top 8 Benefits of Vitamin B6

Quick Health Scoop

  • Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of eight vitamins in the B vitamin
  • The B vitamins often work together to help provide the energy the body needs by converting food into cellular energy.
  • As a water-soluble nutrient, vitamin B6 benefits the body by helping to support a healthy brain and nervous system.

Certain groups of people, including pregnant women, face a higher risk of low levels of vitamin B6, which left untreated, can lead to vitamin B6 deficiencyΔ.

While you might know vitamin “superstars” (hello, Vitamin C!), you might not be as familiar with some of the other key nutrients, like Vitamin B6.

For instance, did you know that the B vitamin family actually consists of eight B vitamins? They often work together in the body to assist with biological functions that support metabolism and provide the body’s energy from the food we eat. The B  vitamins include: 

They often work together performing different but important functions in the body. What’s missing from the above list?

Meet Vitamin B6 (also called pyridoxine).

Naturally found in a variety of foods, Vitamin B6 plays a variety of important roles in the body. Since your body can’t produce vitamin B6, you need to get it either from food or vitamin supplements. Food sources of vitamin B6 include fish, meat, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, non-citrus fruit, legumes, and fortified breakfast cereal. [1,2]

What is vitamin B6 good for? As vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 reactions in the body, the benefits of vitamin B6 include supporting protein metabolism and supporting a healthy brain and nervous system.  Learn more about the benefits of vitamin B6 and how it supports the human body.

What Does Vitamin B6 Do For The Body?

As a water-soluble nutrient, vitamin B6 is stored in your body in small amounts to use what’s needed, but then you eliminate any excess through the urine. [3]

What is vitamin B6 good for? This key nutrient helps more than 100 enzymes in performing various jobs in the body, such as breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; playing a role in cognitive development; maintaining normal homocysteine levels (an amino acid in the blood) and supporting nervous system function and brain health. [1,4] This key nutrient also helps make red blood cells, supports the body’s immune system, and helps make non-essential amino acids (protein’s building blocks). [5]

How much vitamin B6 do you need every day? While the daily amount of vitamin B6 depends on your age, sex, and life stage, health professionals recommend that most adults get between 1.3-1.7 mg/day, with pregnant and breastfeeding women and teens needing a little more (between 1.9-2.0 mg/day, respectively). [6]

Most people get adequate Vitamin B6 through food, as approximately 11% of the U.S. population has an inadequate daily intake of this vitamin.[10] Therefore, a deficiency in this specific nutrient is rare, compared to some other key nutrients. However, if you’re deficient in other B vitamins (such as vitamin B12 and Folate), you’re more likely to also be deficient in vitamin B6 [7].

While vitamin B6 deficiencyΔ is rare, certain groups of people face a higher risk of being deficient, including excess alcohol consumption, pregnant women, obese people, smokers, and people with certain conditions [2,6]. These people should speak with their healthcare practitioner about whether a Vitamin B6 supplement is right for them.

Because pregnant women may not be getting enough vitamin B6 through their diet, they are more at risk at developing a vitamin B6 deficiencyΔ, and it’s especially important they get adequate intake of this key nutrient through their diet or a prenatal supplement. Why? Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the healthy brain development and immune function of the baby during pregnancy and infancy. [9]

Health Benefits of Vitamin B6

What body functions does Vitamin B6 benefit from? Among other health benefits, Vitamin B6 plays an important role in a variety of biological functions. [1,3,4,6]

  1. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the normal function of the nervous system.
  2. Vitamin B6 supports the healthy functioning of the immune system.
  3. Vitamin B6 helps convert food into cellular energy. By metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from the food you eat, it helps fuel your body with the energy it needs throughout the day. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 your body requires.
  4. Vitamin B6 is necessary for red blood cell formation. It produces hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the red blood cells to the body’s tissues.
  5. Vitamin B6 helps regulate the metabolism of homocysteine (a byproduct created during protein digestion).
  6. Vitamin B6 helps maintain normal blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body.
  7. Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system. That’s why this nutrient (along with other B vitamins such as Folate and Vitamin B12) is included in prenatal vitamins for pregnant women and teens.
  8. Vitamin B6 regulates your mood. This B vitamin supports the production of SAM-e, which plays an important role in neurotransmitter function and mood health.

Bottom Line

The B vitamins often work together to help provide the energy the body needs by converting the food you eat into cellular energy. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of these eight vitamins. What is vitamin B6 good for? Among its many benefits, this water-soluble nutrient plays a vital role in keeping your brain and nervous system healthy. Most people get adequate vitamin B6 intake through their diet, since it’s naturally in a variety of animal- and plant-based foods. Good sources of foods rich in vitamin B6 include fish, meat, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, non-citrus fruit, legumes, and fortified breakfast cereal. Because certain groups of people, including pregnant women, face a higher risk of vitamin B6 deficiency, they may benefit from a Vitamin B6 supplement. If you don’t get enough of this important nutrient, talk to your doctor about taking a Vitamin B supplement.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

Δ Approximately 11% of the U.S. population has an inadequate daily intake of Vitamin B6 [4].

Approximately 6% of older adults have deficient levels of vitamin B12 and over 20% have low levels [7]; the prevalence of folate deficiency was >20% in many countries with lower income economies but was typically <5% in countries with higher income economies [8].

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References 

  1. National Institutes of Health. “Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: Vitamin B6.” June 30, 2022. Accessed on: June 27, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/#h3
  2. S. Department of Agriculture. “Food Data Central.” 2022. Accessed on: June 30, 2022.
  3. “Vitamins.” 2022. Accessed on: June 30, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002399.htm
  4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Vitamin B6.” 2022. Accessed on: June 30, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b6/
  5. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “What Are B-Vitamins?” April 21, 2022. Accessed on: July 1, 2022. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/what-are-b-vitamins-and-folate
  6. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. “Vitamin B6.” June 2024. Accessed on: June 30, 2022. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6#RDA
  7. S. Department of Agriculture. “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.” 2015. Accessed on: June 28, 2022. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf
  8. “9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency.” June 22, 2018. Accessed on: June 30, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b6-deficiency-symptoms#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10
  9. National Institutes of Health. “Fact Sheet for Consumers: Vitamin B6.” January 15, 2021. Accessed on: June 30, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer/#h5
  10. Reider, Carroll A et al. “Inadequacy of Immune Health Nutrients: Intakes in US Adults, the 2005-2016 NHANES.” Nutrients vol. 12,6 1735. 10 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12061735.

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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Sandra Zagorin, MS, RD

Science and Health Educator

As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.

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