Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 - also called pyridoxine - is a water-soluble vitamin and belongs to the group of B vitamins. Strictly speaking, the term vitamin B6 includes three substances, namely pyridoxol, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. Vitamin B6 must be supplied to the body from the outside, however, it is contained in many foods, so that a vitamin B6 deficiency rarely occurs.

Vitamin B6: effect on growth

Vitamin B6 is crucial in the body involved in the construction and remodeling of proteins. It is an important coenzyme for the metabolism of amino acids. Coenzymes, as part of enzymes together with them, ensure that biochemical reactions are faster.

In the amino acid metabolism, amino acids are converted into the body's own substances. These include, among others, the messengers serotonin, histamine and dopamine. While histamine plays a role in the body's allergic reactions, serotonin and dopamine are important in feeling well-being.

As with amino acid metabolism, vitamin B6 is also involved in the metabolism of the central nervous system. In addition, this vitamin also plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin - the red blood pigment and bile acid - and is also indispensable for the immune system.

Finally, vitamin B6 is also important for the growth and development of our body. Therefore, in addition to an adequate supply of folic acid and vitamin B12, it is important to ensure a sufficiently high dosage of vitamin B6 during pregnancy.

Therapeutic use of vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is mainly used to treat skin diseases and nausea. In case of nausea during pregnancy, a daily dose of about 20 milligrams is recommended; if travel sickness, the dose may be higher. Likewise vitamin B6 is attributed to a relief of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as well as the Kapaltunnelsyndrom.

In addition, vitamin B6 can also be used to strengthen the immune system, with poor concentration or learning disabilities, as well as sleep disorders, nightmares or depression. In general, vitamin B6 should only be used for therapeutic purposes after consultation with the attending physician.

Foods with vitamin B6

The daily requirement for vitamin B6 is around 1.5 to 2 milligrams. Since vitamin B6 is particularly important for the amino acid metabolism, the daily requirement, however, depends heavily on the supply of proteins. The more proteins that are consumed, the more vitamin B6 is needed. For example, strength athletes have an increased need for vitamin B6. In addition, however, women who are pregnant or who take birth control pills and older people need more vitamin B6 than the average person.

Vitamin B6 is found in many animal and plant foods - especially vitamin B6 is found in offal, certain fish species and whole grains. For example, two milligrams of vitamin B6 are included in:

  • 175 grams of soybeans
  • 200 grams of oatmeal
  • 200 grams of beef liver
  • 250 grams of whole grain rice
  • 450 grams of veal
  • 2 kilograms of fruit (especially bananas)

In addition, dairy products, fish (especially sardines and mackerel), poultry and pork, and potatoes, nuts and avocados are also good sources of vitamin B6.

How high the vitamin B6 content actually is in the particular food also depends heavily on its preparation. For example, when cooking or frying meat, about 30 percent of the original vitamin B6 content is lost. For frozen foods, the loss can even be up to 50 percent.

Vitamin B6 deficiency: recognize symptoms

A lack of vitamin B6 can have serious consequences, because vitamin B6 is involved in the body in the formation of many other substances. Thus, vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a number of other deficiency symptoms.

Because vitamin B6 is found in many foods, vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively rare. Particularly affected by such a deficiency are persons taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, antispasmodics or tuberculosis drugs.

Even a slight vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to the following symptoms:

  • acne
  • Inflammatory changes of the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
  • Fatigue and poor performance
  • Bowel problems such as diarrhea, but also nausea and vomiting
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • stunted growth
  • photosensitivity

In women, vitamin B6 deficiency can also increase menstrual cramps.

If there is a strong vitamin B6 deficiency, it can lead to dysfunction of the liver and the nervous system. In addition, important minerals such as magnesium, iron or calcium can no longer be utilized by the body.

Overdose of vitamin B6

If high doses of vitamin B6 are taken over a longer period of time, overdose can occur. Chronic overdose is said to be more than 500 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. This amount can not be achieved naturally, ie through ingestion of food, but only through the intake of dietary supplements.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends as a guideline for an additional intake of vitamin B6 above NEM even a maximum of 3.5 milligrams per day.

As a result of overdosage of vitamin B6, nerve damage can occur over time. These are manifested, for example, by signs of paralysis, loss of reflex, disturbances in the sense of temperature, or insensitivity in the extremities. In addition, it can also lead to an inflammatory reaction of the skin (dermatitis).

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