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Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 ensures your nervous system functions properly and helps metabolise food.

What are its health benefits?

Like the other B vitamins, vitamin B6 is used in the processing and metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It’s involved in the process of making the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), serotonin and norepinephrine.

B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is especially important for women because it balances hormonal changes and moods. Other functions include:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Aiding new cell growth
  • Assisting in the prevention of dandruff, eczema and psoriasis
  • It may help ease nausea during pregnancy
  • It is also reportedly effective for people who have a type of anaemia, and those with certain metabolic disorders.

Do you have a deficiency?

Although most people take in adequate amounts of vitamin B6 from various foods, a deficiency can occur in people who are battling with the following conditions, amongst others:

  • Problems with absorbing nutrients
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure complications
  • Alcoholism
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Liver scarring

Symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency can include mood swings, depression, loss of sex drive and numbness in the feet.

If you’re pregnant or taking birth control, you may need to boost your B6 levels and if you’re over 60, you’re at greater risk of developing a vitamin B6 deficiency.

Note that certain food dyes and medications interfere with vitamin B6 levels, so the body ends up with less of the nutrient available for use. 

Find it in these foods

To diminish your chance of a vitamin B6 deficiency, be sure to eat vitamin B6 rich foods. These include:

  • Dark-green vegetables
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Nuts
  • Bananas
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Kidneys
  • Oats
  • Avocados

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

A typical dosage is 2mg per day for an adult man and 1.6mg per day for an adult woman, but this increases with age. However, consult with your Clicks pharmacist first regarding the right dosage of daily oral supplements to make up for a vitamin B6 deficiency.

Know the overdose risks

Vitamin B6 does not usually cause any problems when taken at the correct dose. If you take too many tablets for a long time, you may develop problems with your nervous system, such as tingling feelings, shooting pains, numbness, and not being able to feel pain or temperature. Other vitamin B6 side effects can include nausea, vomiting and stomach pain.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015