Pyridoxine: What is the purpose of vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is one of the micro-nutrients essential for the proper functioning of the body. As the latter is not able to synthesize or store it, it is essential to provide it with enough of it via food. Also known as pyridoxine, B6 is involved in a wide range of metabolic reactions, particularly in the production of red blood cells and proteins.

Characteristics of vitamin B6 :

  • Water-soluble vitamin belonging to group B
  • There are 7 active and interconvertible forms of vitamin B6 in the body
  • Mostly found in fatty fish, offal and meat
  • Plays a very important role in the synthesis of amino acids, neurotransmitters and red blood cells
  • In excess, pyridoxine is neurotoxic

Why eat foods rich in vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6: benefits and roles in the body

Renewal of red blood cells

Pyridoxine is involved in the synthesis and renewal of red blood cells. A significant lack of this vitamin can lead to megaloblastic anemia.

Immune system

Pyridoxine ensures the balance of the immune system, the production of white blood cells and the health of lymphoid organs. A good supply of this vitamin helps the body to defend itself against infections and external pathogens.

Protein metabolism

Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis and degradation of amino acids and proteins. It is particularly active in the metabolism of tryptophan, since it allows it to be transformed into vitamin B3.

Production of hormones and neurotransmitters

In the body, B6 also allows the production of neurotransmitters and essential hormones: serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenaline, etc. Thus, it promotes exchanges between the different neurons and hormonal balance.

Foods rich in vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is found mainly in foods of animal origin, here is a classification of the 20 foods that are richest in it:

Foodstuffs Portions of food (mg)
Turkey 100 g 1.3 mg
Tuna 100 g 1.0 mg
Stir-fried or braised beef liver 100 g 1.0 mg
Bonito 100 g 1.0 mg
Lamb or veal liver, sautéed 100 g 0.9-1.0 mg
Atlantic Salmon 100 g 0.6-0.9 mg
Atlantic cod, dehydrated and salted 100 g 0,9 g
Steamed or boiled octopus 100 g 0.7 mg
Potato with skin on, baked in the oven 1 average (175 g) 0.6 mg
Canned chickpeas 1/2 cup 0.6 mg
Chicken, meat only, roasted 100 g 0.5 mg
Dry roasted pistachios 1/4 cup 0.4 mg
Atlantic or Pacific halibut, grilled 100 g 0.4 mg
Grilled swordfish 100 g 0.4 mg
Banana 1 medium fruit 0.4 mg
Dried or cooked shiitake mushrooms 4 to 10 mushrooms (40 g) 0.1-0.4 mg
Canned prune juice 125 ml 0.3 mg
Whole sesame seeds, roasted or dehydrated 1/4 cup 0.3 mg
Sunflower seeds roasted dry or in oil 1/4 cup 0.3 mg
Dehydrated prunes, cooked or uncooked 1/4 cup 0.2-0.3 mg

How to use vitamin B6 properly?

Use of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 requirements

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Babies 0-6 months 0.1 mg**
Babies 7-12 months 0.3 mg**
Babies 1-3 years old 0.5 mg
Children 4-8 years old 0.6 mg
Boys 9-13 years old 1.0 mg
Girls 9-13 years old 1.0 mg
Boys 14-18 years old 1.3 mg
Girls 14-18 years old 1.2 mg
Men 19-50 years old 1.3 mg
Women 19-50 years old 1.3 mg
Men 50 years and over 1.7 mg
Women 50 years and over 1.5 mg
Pregnant women 1.9 mg
Nursing Women 2.0 mg

* Adequate contributions

Vitamin B6 dietary supplements

There are many food supplements rich in vitamin B6. They are generally indicated to promote vitality, hormonal balance, memory or to fight against temporary fatigue. In more specific cases it may be recommended in rheumatoid arthritis, chronic alcoholism or to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. The dosage varies according to the problem and the context, seek the advice of a health professional.

Vitamin B6 and pregnancy

Dietary supplements containing vitamin B6 could avoid the risk of preeclampsia, promote the proper development of the fetus’ nervous system or reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. However, there is no scientific evidence to definitively validate these hypotheses. In view of the harmful consequences that an excess of vitamin B6 can have on the body, it is recommended to consult a doctor before taking pyridoxine during pregnancy.

Adverse reactions to pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 deficiency

As vitamin B6 is found in most foods, it is extremely rare to find deficiencies in the healthy population. There are rare cases of pyridoxine deficiency in undernourished people, kidney failure and alcoholics. It results in glossitis (inflammation of the tongue), intense fatigue, a feeling of depression, skin disorders, so-called megaloblastic anemia, etc.

Excess vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 in high doses is neurotoxic, causes memory problems and affects the nervous system quite seriously. It is recommended not to exceed the daily dose of 6 mg pyridoxine.

Interactions with other B-group vitamins

To be properly assimilated, pyridoxine requires the presence of all other B-group vitamins in adequate amounts. Vitamin B6 considerably increases the assimilation and action of vitamin B12 and magnesium in the body, it is interesting to combine these molecules.

However, it can interact with some treatments and reduce their effectiveness. This is the case with Levodopa, a treatment used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Chemical properties

The crude formula of pyridoxine is C8H11NO3, its molecular weight is 169.1778 g/mol. It is a water-soluble vitamin. It is one of the most well-known forms of vitamin B6. This vitamin, which is very widespread in the body and in food, has 7 active and interconvertible forms. Among them, the most important are pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxine phosphate and pyridoxal phosphate.

Vitamin B6 acts as a cofactor in many metabolic reactions. It plays a very important role in the synthesis of red blood cells and protein molecules.

History of the event

History of the nutrient

Vitamin B6 was identified in 1935 by Gyorgy, at the time no one knew precisely its role in the body. Four years later in 1939, it was synthesized and named pyridoxine for the first time. Since then, scientists have continued to discover its essential roles in various metabolic pathways.