The Vitamin Breakdown! – Vitamin B6

Aaaand welcome all and one back to the Vitamin breakdown! For those who have cared to have a wee look at the previous posts, you’ll see that these run downs aim to give you a breakdown of the multiple functions the vitamin alphabet plays in our body.

Alrighty, with that all said, let’s crack on. We’ve been studying the B-vitamins. A water-soluble bunch, meaning they can’t be stored in the body and as such, need to be digested on the regular. At the end of each of the vitamin breakdown posts there is a list of the source foods that provide the vitamin discussed.

Vitamin B6 is naturally present in many foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin B6 refers to a group of chemically similar compounds which can be interconverted in biological systems. It is the generic name for six compounds (vitamers) with vitamin B6 activity:

1. Pyridoxine, an alcohol

2. Pyridoxal, an aldehyde

3. Pyridoxamine, which contains an amino group; and their respective 5’-phosphate esters.

5. Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP)

6. Pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate (PMP). PLP & PMP are the active coenzyme forms of vitamin B6 which will be explained a tab bit further.

Vitamin B6 plays a host of roles within the body and is an incredibly important to have in the daily diet. For one example, B6 has a significant impact on the body supporting and managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are two important factors for preventing heart disease. We’ll now go into a bit deeper on some of vitamin B6’s roles within the body..


Vitamins are substances needed in small amounts for normal body functions that the body cannot synthesize in adequate amounts. In many cases vitamins act as cofactors that are needed in order to allow enzymes to perform their important work of facilitating metabolism in the body. In this case the vitamins are called coenzyme vitamins.

An example of coenzyme vitamins include Vitamin B6 in the form of pyridoxal 5’-phosphate. It performs a wide variety of functions in the body and is extremely versatile, with involvement in more than 100 enzyme reactions reactions in the metabolism of mostly protein (but more specifically amino acids), glucose and lipids.


Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) allows the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates. Vitamin B6 does this by being involved in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis.

Gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose in the body from substances other than carbohydrate. Glycogenolysis on the the other hand is the breakdown of glycogen , the primary carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscle cells, into glucose. This is to provide immediate energy for functions such as muscle contraction and to maintain blood glucose levels during fasting.

Vampire Bait

Vitamin B6 has a pretty significant impact on blood quality and flow around the body. It contributes to normal red blood cell formation as well as the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin B6 is needed to create haemoglobin in the blood, which is transported by red blood cells throughout the body to help bring oxygen to cells and to mobilise iron. The main function of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues, and to exchange the oxygen for carbon dioxide, and then carry the carbon dioxide back to the lungs and where it is exchanged for oxygen.

B6 also works to maintain healthy blood vessels. It is needed to regulate levels of a compound called homocysteine within the blood. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid acquired from eating protein sources, especially meat. High levels of homocysteine in the blood is linked to inflammation and the development of heart disease and blood vessel disease, which may contribute to a heart attack.

Without enough vitamin B6, homocysteine builds up in the body and damages blood vessel linings. This can set the stage for dangerous plaque buildup, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Brain Function

The B6 vitamin benefits include helping proper brain development and brain function. Vitamin B6 also plays a role in cognitive development through the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters and in maintaining normal levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood. A build up of homocysteine can cause damage to neurons of the central nervous system.

Studies looking at the possible protective role of vitamin B6 in preventing or improving mood and cognitive function in the elderly, including Alzheimer’s disease, have not found a short-term benefit. Studies have however shown that a vitamin B6 deficiency could influence memory function and contribute to cognitive impairment, Alzheimers and dementia as someone ages.

Mental Health

B6 has been associated with increasing mood and being needed to prevent depression, pain, fatigue and anxiety.

Vitamin B6 has a significant impact on the central production of both serotonin and GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, similar to the role of some prescription antidepressant medications. It is believed to be effective in treating mood disorders and certain brain diseases that can develop as a result of deficiencies in neurotransmitter function.


Vitamin B6 as several significant effects on hormonal balances within the body. As discussed, B6 plays an important role in making serotonin, but it also helps produce norepinephrine. Both act as neurotransmitters and hormones in the body. As two hormones they are known as “happy hormones” that help to control mood, energy and concentration.

Other studies suggest that vitamin B6 supplementation might improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in some women although the research does remain inconclusive.

Vitamin B6 also helps the body to make melatonin, which is an important hormone that helps us to fall asleep. Melatonin is responsible for allowing us to regulate our own internal clock, so we know when it’s time to wake up and have energy, and also when it’s time to wind down and fall asleep for the night.

Dose & Pregnancy

The NHS says that the recommended adult daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.4mg a day for men and 1.2mg a day for women.

NHS guidelines state B6 supplementation in pregnancy is not necessary and high doses might lead to harm. Saying this however there are some suggestions that B6 can help with combating the feelings of nausea. You should be able to get all the vitamin B6 you need from your diet however and additional supplementation shouldn’t be considered without discussion with your doctor.

Food Sources

Sources of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are:

Meat (pork, poultry) and offal





Whole grains (oatmeal, rice)

Fortified cereals and breads

Starchy vegetables like potatoes

Legumes like peanuts, soya beans,

Fresh fruit except citrus

Ok, well thanks once again for reading. Please give a like and a comment! Until next time.

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