Vitamin B6 deficiency and nutritional requirements


Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a B vitamin that is part of the complex of B vitamins needed to produce energy in the body. A vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a variety of health conditions. The entire B complex assist the mechanisms of protein and fat metabolism, and are also needed in order to maintain healthy hair, skin, eyes, and nervous system.

B6 is an important nutrient for the production of white blood cells, and has an effect on over 60 proteins. The mechanism of action for B-6 is to in the release of glucose from glycogen. It is also important in the body processes that produce hydrochloric stomach acids, which aid digestion.

 Action of Vitamin B6

In the skin, vitamin B6 stops acne by reducing sensitivity to the hormone testosterone. In addition, vitamin B6 is used in the synthesizing of both RNA and DNA, which also contributes to the prevention of acne. Vitamin B6 stabilized the electrolyte balance in the body and helps build healthy blood and prevent anemia by building red blood cells.

B6 and Acne

Research shoes that vitamin B6 can help reduce acne. Many people who have a deficiency of B6 also show symptoms of acne. Research on supplementation with B6 has shown moderate results in reducing acne flare-ups.

Natural sources of B6

Vitamin B6 is naturally found in a variety of foods, including meats, fish and vegetables. Sources include whole grains, peanuts, eggs, cheese, sunflower seeds, milk, fish, such as trout or tuna, wheat bran and brewer’s yeast. B6 can also be found in avocadoes, baked potatoes, watermelons, bananas, and plantains. Good vegetable sources are carrots, spinach, lima beans, soybeans, avocados, tomatoes and peas. Chicken breasts, pork loin and roast beef are good animal sources of B6.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin B6 can lead to a variety of medical conditions, including kidney stones and Alzheimer’s disease. Heart disease and nervous system problems are also indicated. Deficiency in pregnancy can lead to congenital abnormalities, such as spina bifida or cleft palate. Cervical dysplasia as well as nerve damage to the feet or hands have been linked to low levels of B vitamins. Because vitamin B6 is easily sourced from many common foods, a severe deficiency is uncommon, however alcoholics and others with inadequate nutrition are at risk. People with congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, or hyperthyroidism are at risk for a B6 deficiency. Some people are not able to metabolize pyridoxine, and those people need continued supplementation.

Nutritional Guidelines for taking vitamin B6

The National Institute of Health has set a U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6. They suggest 1.3 mg daily for adults between the age of 19 and 50. Over 50, the allowance is raised to 1.5. Pregnant and lactating women are advised to take 1.9 to 2 mg daily. The RDA for children is 0.1 for infants up to age seven months, and 0.3 to 0.5 up to age three. Teens are advised to add 1.0 to 1.2 mg daily to their diets. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests dosages as high as 50 mg daily to be included in a B-complex dosage.

Indicators of Vitamin B6 deficiency

One of the main indicators of a vitamin B6 deficiency is acne, other forms of skin conditions such as dermatitis, or cracked and sore lips. The mouth or tongue may be inflamed. The deficiency has been linked to depression, mental confusion, and loss of sleep.

Toxicity of Vitamin B6

Toxic levels of vitamin B6 can lead to damage in the nervous system. Symptoms can include tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. In utero, overdoses of B6 to the fetus can cause problems for the development of the nervous system. As B6 is sometimes advised for the treatment of morning sickness, pregnant women need to ensure they do not consume too much vitamin B6. When stopping regular doses over 50 mgs, care needs to be taken, and doses need to be tapered, as a rebound deficiency can develop otherwise. Overdoses of B6 can trigger acne, especially


People who have arthritis or kidney stones should take care when adding vitamin B6 to their diet. Other interactions include birth control pills, penicillamine (a treatment of Wilson’s disease) and those on levodopa therapy (a treatment for Parkinson’s disease).



Melanie Grimes
Melanie Grimes is a writer, medical editor and health educator. A classically trained homeopath, she has lectured internationally and been on faculty at Bastyr University, American Medical College of Homeopathy, and Seattle School of Homeopathy. She has been the editor of SImillimum, Journal of the Homeopathic Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and The American Homeopath, Journal of the North American Society of Homeopaths.

An award-winning screenwriter, Melanie has taught creative writing, and authored medical textbooks.
She writes about health, natural medicine, food as medicine, herbs, homeopathy, and travel. 

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