If you want to know more about the symptoms and complaints of a vitamin B6 deficiency, how to measure it and what to do about it, read on
Functions of vitamin B6
Pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, plays an important role in, among other things:
- Energy supply
- Formation of red blood cells
- Functioning of the nervous system.
Symptoms of deficiency
One of the main tasks of vitamin B6 is to ensure that glucose in the form of glycogen can be stored in the liver as an energy supply, which can then be used at times of shortage to maintain blood sugar levels. A disruption in this process due to a vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to hypoglycemia and feeling faint.
A vitamin B6 deficiency may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing blood homocysteine levels and may contribute to chronic dormant inflammation in the body.
Other symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency may include:
- Age-related cognitive decline
- Kidney stones
- Morning sickness in pregnancy
In the Netherlands there is generally no need to worry since vitamin B6 deficiencies are rare. However, variation in vitamin B6 status or requirement may occur due to differences in bioavailability or interference with medication.
Vitamin B6 can be found in many different products, good sources are for example:
- Cereal products
- Wheat germs
Vitamin B6 is also found in smaller amounts in vegetables, milk and cheese. Cooking or heating food has a negative effect on its bioavailability and can lead to a loss of 40% compared to the raw version.
Vitamin B6 can be found in both animal and vegetable products. In animal products it is already present in a form that can be directly absorbed and used by the body. In vegetable products it is mostly bound, and we are dependent on our intestinal flora to release it. After absorption it is transported to the liver to be converted into the bioactive form with the help of riboflavin or vitamin B2. The absorption rate of B6 from plant sources is highly dependent on a person's gut flora, liver health and vitamin B2 status. This can cause large variations in vitamin B6 status, especially in vegetarians and vegans.
For adults the recommended daily allowance is set at 1.5 mg with a safe upper limit of 25 mg/day. The requirement of vitamin B6 can be influenced by high protein consumption, for instance in the form of protein powders by athletes, and riboflavin (vitamin B2) or molybdenum status. Apart from diet, pill use, high estrogen levels, inflammation, and the use of corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drugs can also result in an increased need for vitamin B6 or interfere with its absorption and use. For inadequate intake of vitamin B6 from food, a supplement may help if symptoms of possible deficiency do not subside.
Determine vitamin B6 status
The vitamin B6 status can easily be determined in the blood. In the urine the breakdown products can be determined by means of an organic acid test. Increased levels of xanthurenate, kynurenate, or quinolinate can indicate a vitamin B6 deficiency. The first signs of a deficiency are shown by an increase in xanthurenate and the last by an increase in quinolinate.
Wwhat to do in case of a shortage
In case of a deficiency it is advisable to first look at the diet and to make adjustments if necessary. If symptoms remain or if the vitamin B6 level in the blood remains too low, take a supplement of pyridoxal-5-phosphate. Start with a lower dose of 5-10 mg and if necessary increase to a maximum of 25 mg/day.
It's not possible to get too much vitamin B6 through food alone. This can only be done by taking (high) dosed supplements. Symptoms of high doses of vitamin B6 are of a neurological nature, usually in the form of tingling or numb hands and feet. These symptoms are reversible as soon as the high intake is stopped. However, there is no unambiguous scientific research into a safe upper limit. In Europe this has been set at 25 mg/day, while in the United States it is 100 mg/day. In Europe, therefore, there is little need to worry about possible exceedances of intake.
Order the blood test for vitamin b6 separately or as an extra to another test.
We put together a combination of important micro-nutrients that are related and can be tested in the blood,
- Vitamin D3
- Active B12 HoloTC
- Vitamin B6
- Folic acid intracellular