Becoming Aware of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin.  It is one of the best-studied of all B vitamins and has one of the greatest varieties of chemical forms, including pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, pyridoxine phosphate, pyridoxal phosphate, and pyridoxamine phosphate. First researched in the mid-1930’s, the vitamin was originally referred to as “antidermatitis factor,” because skin inflammation (dermatitis) seemed to increase when foods with B6 were eliminated from the diet.

Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions take place, and much of your body’s chemistry depends upon enzymes. Because vitamin B6 is involved with more than 100 enzymatic reactions, its function in your body is diverse and far-reaching.

Vitamin B6 can:

  • Synthesize essential molecules: Your body uses vitamin B6 to produce a vast array of important molecules. Many of the building blocks of protein, called amino acids, require adequate supplies of B6 for synthesis. Nucleic acids used to make DNA in your genes also require vitamin B6. Because amino acids and nucleic acids are such critical parts of new cells, vitamin B6 is an essential part of creating virtually all new cells in your body. Heme (the protein center of your red blood cells) and phospholipids (your cell membrane components that allow messaging between cells) also depend on vitamin B6 for their creation. Vitamin B6 also helps your body make hemoglobin to transport oxygen in your blood.
  • Process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins: Your body depends on vitamin B6 to process carbohydrates. Vitamin B6 is especially important in helping break down glycogen (a special form of starch) stored in your muscle cells and to a lesser extent in your liver. Carbohydrate processing plays a key role in physical performance, especially in endurance athletic events. It also helps maintain normal blood sugar every day. Vitamin B6 also ensures that you metabolize fats and proteins efficiently.
  • Support your nervous system: Vitamin B6 supports many aspects of neurological activity. It is the key nutrient in creating an important group of messaging molecules called amines, which are often made from parts of proteins called amino acids. Your nervous system relies on amines for transmitting messages from one nerve to the next, so they’re known as neurotransmitters. Some of the amine-derived neurotransmitters that require vitamin B6 for their production include serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and GABA. The key role of vitamin B6 in your nervous system also makes it a mood enhancer and results in many nerve-related symptoms when B6 is deficient. These symptoms can include convulsions and seizures in the case of severe deficiency.
  • Support hormonal balance and detoxification: The movement of sulfur-containing molecules around your body is especially important for hormonal balance and elimination of toxic substances through your liver. Because vitamin B6 is able to remove sulfur groups from other molecules, it helps your body maintain flexibility in handling sufur-containing compounds. Vitamin B6 plays a similar role with respect to methyl-containing molecules in a process called methylation. The term “methyl group” refers to a chemical structure that has only one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. Many important chemical events in your body are made possible by the transfer of methyl groups from one place to another. For example, genes in your body can be switched on and turned off in this way. This is particularly important in cancer prevention since one of the genes that can be switched on and off is the tumor suppressor gene, p53.  Cells can use the process to send messages back and forth.   Attaching methyl groups to toxic substances is one way of making them less toxic and encouraging their elimination from your body. It is also a way of ensuring that substances like homocysteine, which can build up excessively in your blood and lead to risk of cardiovascular disease, are kept within a healthy range. Vitamin B6 works with folate and vitamin B12, help prevent homocysteine build-up in your blood.
  • Protect your cardiovascular health: Methylation is also important to cardiovascular health, because it can change a potentially dangerous molecule called homocysteine into benign substances. Because homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls, accelerating the progression of atherosclerosis, high homocysteine levels mean a significantly increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Eating foods rich in vitamin B6 can help keep homocysteine levels low. In addition, diets high in vitamin B6-rich foods are associated with overall lower rates of heart disease, even when homocysteine levels are normal, most likely because of all the other beneficial activities of this vitamin.
  • Prevent chronic inflammation: Ample intake of vitamin B6 decreases chronic inflammation, which can lead to health problems like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, all of which share a component of chronic, unwanted inflammation.

  • Support cellular regeneration: Because of its key role in producing new cells, vitamin B6 is especially important for the healthy function of body tissue that regenerates itself quickly. Your skin is this type of tissue, and it is one of the first to show problems when B6 is deficient. Many skin disorders are associated with B6 deficiency, including eczema and seborrheic dermatitis. The critical role of vitamin B6 in the formation of red blood cells means that B6 deficiency can also result in symptoms of anemia, malaise, and fatigue. When anemia is exclusively related to B6 deficiency, it is usually classified as hypochromic, microcytic (pernicious) anemia.
  • Fight disease: Vitamin B6 helps

    your body make antibodies to fight disease. It especially helps s

    upport immune system function in older people.

The Daily Value (DV) for vitamin B6 is 2 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. In addition to dietary insufficiency, smoking and the use of many prescription medications can contribute to vitamin B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 can interact with certain medications, and several types of medications might adversely affect vitamin B6 levels. If you take prescription medications on a regular basis, you should discuss your vitamin B6 status with your health care provider. Imbalances in nervous system activity have been shown to result from high levels of supplemental vitamin B6 intake. These imbalances do not seem to occur until supplementation exceeds 2 grams per day. The National Academy of Sciences has set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin B6 of 100 milligrams for adults 19 years and older.

As a member of the B vitamin family, B6 has key interactions with many of its family members. B6 is essential for making niacin from the amino acid tryptophan. Riboflavin and niacin are both needed to convert vitamin B6 into its various chemical forms, and imbalances in thiamine metabolism create imbalances in vitamin B6 metabolism. B6 deficiency can also reduce your body’s absorption of vitamin B12.

Good sources of vitamin B6 include brewer’s yeast, dulsepotatoes, pistachios, sunflower seeds, spinach, bananas, lentils, avocados, sweet potatoes, winter squash, yams, green peas, sesame seeds, bell peppers, turnip greens, summer squash, shiitake mushrooms, collard greens, chickpeas, garlic, leeks, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, hazelnuts, kale, pineapples, and carrots.

Although historically described as one of the most stable of the B vitamins, large amounts of vitamin B6 are lost during most forms of cooking and processing. Loss of B6 from canning of vegetables is approximately 60-80%; from canning of fruits, about 38%; from freezing of fruits, about 15%; and from conversion of grains to grain products, between 50-95%.

When food is heated in the context of simple home cooking, the acidity of the food often determines how much B6 is lost or retained. In general, the more acidic the food, the poorer the B6 retention. Also, in the context of the home kitchen, the freezing of foods high in B6 can result in the loss of approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the total B6 content. Because some foods high in B6 are typically not eaten raw, a good solution to these processing problems is to consume plentiful amounts of foods high in B6.

Food Sources of Vitamin B6

Food

Serving Size

Calories

Amount (mg)

DV

Brewer’s Yeast

2 Tbsp

45.0

9.6

480%

Dulse

1/3 cup

18

0.63

31.5%

Potatoes

1 baked

160.9

0.54

27.0%

Pistachios

1 ounce raw

159.0

0.48

24.0%

Sunflower Seeds

¼ cup raw

204.4

0.47

23.5%

Spinach

1 cup cooked

41.4

0.44

22.0%

Banana

1 each

105.0

0.43

21.5%

Lentils

1 cup cooked

230.0

0.40

20.0%

Avocado

1 cup

233.6

0.38

19.0%

Sweet Potato

1 cup baked

102.6

0.33

16.5%

Winter Squash

1 cup baked

75.8

0.33

16.5%

Yam

1 cup baked

157.8

0.31

15.5%

Rice Bran

1 Tbsp

23.0

0.30

15.0%

Green Peas

1 cup raw

115.7

0.30

15.0%

Sesame Seeds

¼ cup raw

206

0.28

14.0%

Bell Peppers

1 cup raw

28.5

0.27

13.5%

Turnip Greens

1 cup cooked

28.8

0.26

13.0%

Summer Squash

1 cup raw

18.1

0.25

12.5%

Shiitake Mushrooms

87 g

29.6

0.25

12.5%

Collard Greens

1 cup cooked

49.4

0.24

12.0%

Chickpeas

1 cup cooked

269

0.23

11.5%

Garlic

1 ounce

26.8

0.22

11.0%

Leeks

1 cup raw

54.3

0.21

10.5%

Cauliflower

1 cup raw

26.8

0.20

10.0%

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup raw

37.8

0.19

9.5%

Onions

1 cup raw

64.0

0.19

9.5%

Hazelnuts (Filberts)

¼ cup whole

212.0

0.19

9.5%

Kale

1 cup cooked

36.4

0.18

9.0%

Pineapple

1 cup

82.5

0.18

9.0%

Carrots

1 cup

50.0

0.17

8.5%

Broccoli

1 cup raw

30.9

0.16

8.0%

Chard

1 cup cooked

35.0

0.15

7.5%

Tomatoes

1 cup raw

32.4

0.14

7.0%

Mustard Greens

1 cup cooked

21.0

0.14

7.0%

Bok Choy

1 cup, shredded

9.0

0.14

7.0%

Green Beans

1 cup raw

31.0

0.14

7.0%

Asparagus

1 cup raw

26.8

0.12

6.0%

Cantaloupe

1 cup

54.4

0.12

6.0%

Chili Powder

2 tsp

15.0

0.11

5.5%

Sage

2 tsp

13.0

0.11

5.5%

Grapes

1 cup

61.6

0.10

5.0%

Garlic Powder

2 tsp

21.0

0.10

5.0%

Blackstrap Molasses

2 tsp

32.1

0.10

5.0%

Paprika

2 tsp

13.0

0.10

5.0%

Cayenne Pepper

2 tsp

11.4

0.09

4.5%

Watercress

2 cups raw

7.0

0.09

4.5%

Cabbage

1 cup raw

17.5

0.09

4.5%

Turmeric

2 tsp

15.6

0.08

4.0%

Strawberries

1 cup, sliced

53.0

0.08

4.0%

Tofu, firm

81 grams

117.0

0.08

4.0%

Eggplant

1 cup raw

19.7

0.07

3.5%

Romaine Lettuce

2 cups

16.0

0.07

3.5%

Watermelon

1 cup

46.0

0.07

3.5%

Beets

1 cup, raw

58.0

0.07

3.5%

Basil

2 tsp

7.0

0.06

3.0%

Figs

8 ounces

37.0

0.06

3.0%

Oats

1/3 cup

202.0

0.06

3.0%


This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

Advertisements

45 thoughts on “Becoming Aware of Vitamin B6

  1. Pingback: Ravishing Rapini | Humane Living

  2. Pingback: Noticing Sources of Niacin | Humane Living

  3. Pingback: Speaking Highly of Spinach | Humane Living

  4. Pingback: Regarding Riboflavin | Humane Living

  5. Pingback: Betting on Bok Choy | Humane Living

  6. Pingback: Thinking About Thiamine | Humane Living

  7. Pingback: Wheting Your Appetite for Watercress | Humane Living

  8. Pingback: Turning Your Health Around With Turnip Greens | Humane Living

  9. Pingback: Mustering Enthusiasm for Mustard Greens | Humane Living

  10. Pingback: Connecting With the Soul of the American South: Collards | Humane Living

  11. Pingback: Being Kind to Your Body With Kale | Humane Living

  12. Pingback: Selecting a B12 Source | Humane Living

  13. Pingback: Securing Nutrients with Squash | Humane Living

  14. Pingback: Germinating Brown Rice | Humane Living

  15. Pingback: Lowering Health Risks with Lentils | Humane Living

  16. Pingback: Fighting Free Radicals | Humane Living

  17. Pingback: Understanding ANDI Scores | Humane Living

  18. Pingback: Finding Vitality with Vitamins | Humane Living

  19. Pingback: Planting the Seeds of Change | Humane Living

  20. Pingback: Celebrating the Fungus Among Us | Humane Living

  21. Pingback: Finding Fabulous Fruit | Humane Living

  22. Pingback: Stemming Disease and Promoting Budding Health | Humane Living

  23. Pingback: Rooting for Your Health | Humane Living

  24. Pingback: Bringing Home Brussels Sprouts | Humane Living

  25. Pingback: Choosing Chard | Humane Living

  26. Pingback: Finding Foods with Folate | Humane Living

  27. Pingback: Foraging for Chicory Greens | Humane Living

  28. Pingback: Comprehending the Importance of Choline | Humane Living

  29. Pingback: Connecting With Chlorella | Humane Living

  30. Pingback: Making the Argument for Arugula | Humane Living

  31. Pingback: Radiating Good Health With Radishes | Humane Living

  32. Pingback: Basking in the Glory of Basil | Humane Living

  33. Pingback: Snipping Sprigs of Spearmint | Humane Living

  34. Pingback: Sprouting Beans | Humane Living

  35. Pingback: Acquiring a Taste for Cilantro | Humane Living

  36. Pingback: Nourishing Your Body With Napa Cabbage | Humane Living

  37. Pingback: Cashing in on Cabbage | Humane Living

  38. Pingback: Eating for Happiness | Humane Living

  39. Pingback: Balancing Essential Fatty Acids | Humane Living

  40. Pingback: Picking Peppers | Humane Living

  41. Pingback: Putting Potatoes on the Menu | Humane Living

  42. Pingback: Letting Yourself Love Leaf Lettuce | Humane Living

  43. Pingback: Getting to Know Knol-Kohl (Kholrabi) | Humane Living

  44. Pingback: Relishing Romaine Lettuce | Humane Living

  45. Pingback: Branching Out With Broccoli | Humane Living

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s