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Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) deficiency is the most common in those of us who eat diets that are high in 'junk' or 'convenience' food. Food processing destroys up to 90 percent of vitamin B6. Many menstrual problems, including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), are linked to deficiencies of this vitamin.

The functions of vitamin B6

Pyridoxine is involved in a myriad of bodily functions (more than almost any other single nutrient). It is needed for:

The symptoms and signs of vitamin B6 deficiency

These include:

Therapeutic uses

Vitamin B6 is useful for the following:

Food sources of vitamin B6

The best food sources of vitamin B6 include: brewers or nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, carrots, legumes, soybeans, chicken, eggs, fish, organ meats, spinach, blackstrap molasses, and whole grains.

How much do you need?

Take as part of a vitamin B complex with equal amounts of B1 and B2. Doses of up to 100 to 200 mg per day are safe. It is not recommended that you take in excess of 500 mg per day.

Special notes

30 - 40% of the population may have problems converting vitamin B6 into P5P (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate), its main active form in the body. Those who are afflicted with illnesses may be unable to activate vitamin B6. For these people the activated form of vitamin B6 (P5P) should be taken.

Diets high in protein will increase the body's requirements for vitamin B6, as does the consumption of alcohol and oral contraceptives. Arthritis sufferers taking penicillamine will require vitamin B6 supplements.

Vitamin B6 is destroyed by canning, roasting, heat processing, water, alcohol, and estrogen.

Vitamin B6 should not be taken by anyone undergoing Levodopa treatment for Parkinson's disease.

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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Excess vitamin B6 can deplete other B vitamins, so always take it in balanced amounts. Therapeutic dosages should not be used long-term unless they are under a total of 100 - 200 mg daily (except with the supervision of a physician).

If taking doses larger than 50 mg for therapeutic benefit, the doses should be divided into 50 mg doses, which can be taken during the course of the day. This is important because the liver is unable to handle more than a 50 mg dose at a time.