PDR Health

Vitamin B6

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in three major chemical forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. It is involved in more body functions than almost any other single nutrient. Vitamin B6 is part of the vitamin B complex group, which includes thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin and folic acid. These vitamins are essential for many biochemical reactions in the body

What Does Vitamin B6 Do?

Vitamin B6 plays a role in more than 100 enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. For example, it helps the body make haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Vitamin B6 is also needed for proper brain development during pregnancy and infancy as well as for immune system function. It helps the body break down proteins

What Foods Provide Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found naturally in many foods, especially meats, poultry, fish, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and non-citrus fruits. Pyridoxine, the main form of vitamin B6 in supplements and fortified foods, is added to cereals, grain products, and some brands of soy-based infant formula

How Much Vitamin B6 Do I Need?

The amount of vitamin B6 you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg).

– Infants birth to 6 months: 0.1 mg

– Infants 7 to 12 months: 0.3 mg

– Children 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg

– Children 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg

– Children 9 to 13 years: 1.0 mg

– Teens 14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg

– Adults 19 years and older: 1.3 mg

– Pregnant teens and women: 1.9 mg

– Breastfeeding teens and women: 2.0 mg

What Happens if I Don’t Get Enough Vitamin B6?

It can cause anemia and skin rashes in infants and children. In adults, a vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to depression, confusion, and a weak immune system.

Vitamin B6 is found in many foods, so it is unlikely that you will develop a vitamin B6 deficiency unless you have another health condition that affects how your body absorbs or uses vitamin B6. If you take certain medications or have kidney disease, you may be at risk for a vitamin B6 deficiency.


Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is readily excreted in the urine. Only a small amount is stored in the liver. The half-life of pyridoxine is about 25 days, but that of pyridoxal and 4-pyridoxic acid is only about 10 hours.

Plasma levels of vitamin B6 increase during pregnancy and lactation and decrease with age.


Vitamin B6 can interact with certain medications, and this can lead to a vitamin B6 deficiency. If you take any of the following medications, you may need to supplement with vitamin B6:

– Isoniazid (INH)

– Levodopa

– Penicillamine

– Cycloserine

– Tetracyclines

– Hydralazine

If you have kidney disease, you may also be at risk for a vitamin B6 deficiency because your body may not be able to eliminate pyridoxine efficiently.

Mechanism of Action

Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme for more than 100 enzymes involved in metabolism, including those involved in the synthesis of amino acids and nucleic acids, the metabolism of glucose and lipids, and the synthesis of hemoglobin. Pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP) is the biologically active form of vitamin B6 and functions as a coenzyme in many reactions, including transamination, decarboxylation, dehydrogenation, and racemization reactions.


Vitamin B6 has been studied for its role in many conditions, including heart disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and morning sickness. However, most of these studies have been small and inconclusive. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of vitamin B6 for these conditions.

How is it supplied?

Vitamin B6 is available in oral and injectable forms. It is also available as a topical cream. Vitamin B6 supplements are usually in the form of pyridoxine hydrochloride.