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Pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6) 

Other name(s):

vitamin B-6, pyridoxal phosphate, pyridoxamine, pyridoxol, pyridoxyl-5-phosphate

General description

Pyridoxine is also known as vitamin B-6. It’s a water-soluble vitamin. Like the other B vitamins, it helps make energy in your body. B-6 was isolated in 1938. It’s needed for more than 60 enzymes to work in the body. It’s a vital part of making non-essential amino acids.

Pyridoxine is needed to help make neurotransmitters. These include gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. This vitamin is needed to help convert stored energy (glycogen) to blood sugar (glucose). Low levels of pyridoxine can lead to numbness or tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy) and seizures. This vitamin is needed for red blood cells to form. It’s needed for iron to convert into hemoglobin. Low levels of pyridoxine can cause anemia and many other health problems.

Medically valid uses

Pyridoxine is used to treat:

  • Drug-induced or diet-related deficiency

  • Metabolic and or genetic problems, such as pyridoxine-dependent convulsions and pyridoxine-responsive anemia

  • Some genetic problems of metabolism

  • Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Unsubstantiated claims

There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.

Pyridoxine may treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It may also help prevent water retention. It acts as a diuretic, especially in PMS. It may also slow the aging process. It may also lower cholesterol levels. It also may help to prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines.

Recommended intake

Pyridoxine is measured in milligrams (mg). It comes as an oral tablet. Doses range from 25–100 mg. It also comes as an oral timed-release tablet. The RDA is the Recommended Dietary Allowance.

Age group

RDA

Maximum daily intake

Infants (0–6 months)

0.1 mg

n/a

Infants (7–12 months)

0.3 mg

n/a

Children (1–3 years)

0.5 mg

30 mg

Children (4–8 years)

0.6 mg

40 mg

Children (9–13 years)

1 mg

60 mg

Males (14–18 years)

1.3 mg

80 mg

Females (14–18 years)

1.2 mg

80 mg

Males (19–50 years)

1.3 mg

100 mg

Females (19–50 years)

1.3 mg

100 mg

Males (51 years and older)

1.7 mg

100 mg

Females (51 years and older)

1.5 mg

100 mg

Pregnant women

1.9 mg

100 mg

Lactating women

2 mg

100 mg

Food source

Nutrient content per 100 grams

Brewer's yeast

3.78 mg

Rice

3.59 mg

Sunflower seeds

3.59 mg

Soybeans

2.0 mg

Lentils

1.69 mg

Salmon

0.97 mg

Tuna

0.89 mg

Bran

0.85 mg

Carrots

0.65 mg

Avocado

0.6 mg

Canning vegetables may destroy more than half of the pyridoxine. This is due to the heating process. Freezing vegetables may destroy up to 1/3 of it.

The vitamin doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But it’s unstable in light, especially in ultraviolet light. It’s best to store it at room temperature. Keep it in light-resistant containers. Don’t freeze it.

You may need more pyridoxine if you have any of these:

  • A high-protein diet

  • Asthma

  • Breast cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Sickle cell anemia

You may also need more if:

  • You drink moderate to large amounts of alcohol

  • You smoke

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to take supplements. But you should talk to your healthcare provider before doing so.

There are 4 problems linked with pyridoxine deficiency. These include:

  • Seizures in babies

  • Dermatitis

  • Anemia (microcytic and hypochromic)

  • Peripheral neuropathy

If you take pyridoxine during pregnancy for nausea and vomiting, your infant may be deficient in it. This can cause seizures in your infant. The seizures may start within a few hours to months after birth. They can be treated with pyridoxine.

If you get anemia from a deficiency, you’ll have smaller than normal red blood cell with less than normal amounts of hemoglobin. In this type of anemia, your iron levels are normal or high. This means that iron isn’t being made into hemoglobin.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

High doses of pyridoxine supplements can cause numbness or tingling loss of control of body movements. This is called sensory neuropathy. This may lead to changes in your gait.

Pyridoxine keeps levodopa from working as well as it should. This is a medicine used to treat Parkinson’s disease.  It makes your body break down the medicine more quickly. This may not happen if you’re taking both levodopa and carbidopa.

Some other medicines get in the way of pyridoxine. You may need supplements if you’re taking isoniazid, cycloserine, or penicillamine.

Some studies say that high doses of the vitamin decrease how well antiepileptic medicines work. This includes medicines such as valproic acid, phenobarbital, primidone, and phenytoin. But this effect is not certain.

Online Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Godsey
Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019