Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B6 In Your Diet?
Vitamin B6 is an extremely important dietary nutrient, being one of the major members of the vitamin B complex family. Vitamin B6 plays a central role in normal metabolic processes, thus affecting eyesight, blood pressure, liver function, digestion, skin appearance, physical energy, the ageing process, the immune system and more besides. In particular, it is used by the body to create haemoglobin, the red pigment in the blood that enables the transportation of oxygen and nutrients around the body.
Maintaining a healthy vitamin B6 intake is therefore essential for us to gain the full benefit of the food we eat, to maintain balanced blood sugar and sustain overall health. Studies have also indicated important specific health benefits:
Counteracts the symptoms of anxiety and depression1
Offsets the development of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related dementia2
Lowers the risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol and inflammation3
Reduces the severity of behavioural conditions in children4
How Much Should you take?
The daily Nutritional Recommended Value (NRV) for vitamin B6 increases as you grow older.
Children: Babies don’t need more than 0.3 mg per day, infants up to age 8 need 0.5 – 0.6 mg, and older children up to the age of around 14 benefit from at least 0.6 -1 mg of vitamin B6 each day.
Adults 14-50: In adolescence and young adulthood, men and women both benefit from around 1.3 mg of B6 per day, ingested in food or supplements. The exception is women while pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant women should consider increasing their intake to 1.9 mg to accommodate the needs of their growing baby, and up it again to 2 mg while they breastfeed.
Adults 51+: Men aged over 50 should increase their intake to 1.7 mg per day, while women of the same age can get by with 1.5 mg.
Are you Vitamin B6 Deficient?
As you need more vitamin B6 the older you get, it is possible to become deficient, although this is quite rare in the UK. People with vitamin B6 deficiency may notice worsened anxiety, depression or irritability, fatigue, or muscle cramps. Sufferers of anaemia could experience worsening of their symptoms, and women with B6 deficiency could get more severe PMT.
Can you take too much?
You can potentially have too much vitamin B6, whether through over supplementation or by eating too many B6 rich foods. Some fruit smoothies and energy drinks are now ‘enhanced’ with added vitamins, so it makes sense to check the ingredients of a product and keep a rough tab on your total intake. This isn’t something to overly worry about. As B6 is water-soluble, in most cases your body simply removes the excess vitamins and flushes it out through the urine. It almost never becomes toxic, although in rare occasions some people experience temporary muscle fatigue and disorientation after taking extremely high doses.
Sources of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is readily available in supplement form, alongside other essential nutrients in the vitamin B complex. It is also found in many different foods. Before purchasing a health supplement we strongly recommend you look at natural sources first, using supplements to enhance a healthy balanced diet – rather than to substitute for it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, all the foods that are regularly recommended for their health benefits also contain a nice big dose of vitamin B6! Boost your natural intake with the following foods:
Poultry white meat: A single chicken breast can contain 45% of your vitamin B6 NRV.
Beef: Tuck into a small steak for 30% or more of your NRV.
Tuna: Up to 30% NRV per can.
Pulses & grains: Vegetarians and vegans can also benefit from dietary vitamin B6. Pinto beans and chickpeas are especially high in content (one can of pinto beans contains 30% NRV, while a can of chickpeas packs 15% NRV). Many whole grains, such as quinoa and buckwheat are also high in vitamin B6.
Avocado: An impressive 30% NRV per fruit
Seeds: Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds all contain generous doses of vitamin B6, making it possible to up your intake by taking a nutritious snack.
Vitamin B6 Supplements From Hellenia
It isn’t always possible to include all the B6 you need in your diet, especially if you want to use it for therapeutic reasons. Supplements are a safe and affordable way to do this.
We have several high quality vitamin B6 supplements to choose from. A good general option is our Multivitamin & mineral one a day tablet; a comprehensive vitamin and mineral formula containing all your daily requirements of important nutrients. Alternatively, our Vitamin B complex tablets contain all the B6 you need, along with the full NRV of B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B12 and Pantothenic Acid. Each supplement is manufactured in the UK from sustainably sourced minerals, using a process that maintains the full value of each dietary supplement. The supplements are water-soluble, allowing your body to quickly absorb the minerals and utilise them to sustain itself on a daily basis.