Suggested store
1851, Rue Sherbrooke Est Bureau 110, Montréal, QC

Three forms of vitamin B6 are found in food: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. Vitamin B6 is water soluble, and so cannot be stored in body fat. It is absorbed through the intestines. Much of the body’s vitamin B6 is stored in its muscles.

Roles

What does vitamin B6 do? 

Vitamin B6 plays a role in: 

  • Preventing cardiovascular illness;
  • Producing insulin;
  • Producing histamine (a substance involved in allergic reactions);
  • Producing and digesting amino acids (the building blocks of proteins);
  • Synthesizing hemoglobin (a molecule that transports oxygen to red blood cells).

A form of vitamin B6 is used to treat symptoms for a number of health issues, such as gestational diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, depression, and asthma. 

Needs

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin B6: 

By Age Group
Recommended Dietary Allowance in mg/Day
Infants
0 to 6 months
0,1
7 to 12 months
0,3
Children
1 to 3 years
0,5
4 to 8 years
0,6
Preteens
9 to 13 years
1,0
Teenage boys
Age 14 to 18 years
1,3
Teenage girls
Age 14 to 18 ans
1,2
Adults
Age 19 and over
1,3
Pregnant women
Ages 14 to 18
1,9
Ages 19 to 50
1,9
Nursing mothers
Ages 14 to 18
2,0
Ages 19 to 50
2,0

Source: DRI, Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements 2006, p.182.

Sources

The best source of vitamin B6 is enriched, ready-to-serve cereals. Balanced meals composed mainly of meat, fish, or poultry; white potatoes and other starchy vegetables; and fruit (except citrus) also contain vitamin B6. Beef liver and offal and highly enriched soy-based meat substitutes are also excellent sources of this vitamin. 

Foods
Portion Size
Vitamin B6
Roast turkey drumstick
100g (3½oz)
1,3mg
Baked yellowfin tuna
100g (3½oz)
1,0mg
Sautéed or braised beef liver
100g (3½oz)
1,0mg
Baked skipjack tuna
100g (3½oz)
1,0mg
Sautéed lamb or veal liver
100g (3½oz)
0,9-1,0mg
Poached or grilled Atlantic salmon (pink or chum)
100g (3½oz)
0,6-0,9mg
Dehydrated salt Atlantic cod
100g (3½oz)
0,9mg
Steamed or boiled octopus
100g (3½oz)
0,7mg
Baked potato with peel
1 medium (175g)
0,6mg
Canned chickpeas
125ml (1/2 cup)
0,6mg
Dry roasted pistachios
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,5mg
Roast chicken, meat only
100g (3½oz)
0,5mg
Flaxseed
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,4mg
Banana
1 medium
0,4mg
Dried or cooked shitake mushrooms
4 to 10 mushrooms (40g ou 125ml)
0,1-0,4mg
100% bran breakfast cereals (e.g., All-Bran)
30g
0,3mg
Whole, roast, grilled, or dehydrated sesame seeds
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,3mg
Dry or oil-roasted sunflower seeds
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,3mg
Cooked or uncooked prunes
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,2-0,3mg
Dry-roasted, unbleached hazelnuts and filberts
60ml (1/4 cup)
0,2mg

Source: Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, versions 2001b and 2005; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Deficiency

Minor vitamin B6 deficiency is relatively common. It appears in newborns whose diets lack the vitamin. It is also found in some women who take oral contraceptives, alcoholics, and smokers. Deficiency is not observed unless daily intake is 0.5 mg/day or less. 

Some illnesses may reduce the amount of vitamin B6 found in the blood, such as: 

  • Asthma;
  • Kidney disease;
  • Diabetes;
  • Sickle-cell anemia;
  • Hodgkin’s disease (cancer of the lymph nodes).

Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency: 


  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis;
  • Cracked lips;
  • Nausea and diarrhea;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Depression and confusion (extreme cases);
  • Epileptic seizures (extreme cases).

Adverse effects

No harmful effects have been tied to excessive vitamin B6 intake from food sources. However, excessive intake of more than 200 mg/day resulting from a pyridoxine supplement used to treat a number of complaints such as carpal tunnel syndrome, painful neuropathy, premenstrual syndrome, asthma, sickle-cell anemia, and epileptic seizures may trigger certain symptoms. 

Signs of excess vitamin B6: 

  • Skin lesions;
  • Sensory neuropathy.

Interactions

Natural health products or vitamin supplements: 

  • none; 

Drugs that may result in vitamin B6 deficiency: 

  • Medication for tuberculosis;
  • Some oral contraceptives;
  • Some medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, hypertension, depression, and some antibiotics;
  • Vitamin B6 decreases the therapeutic effect of some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy;
  • Combining vitamin B6 and amiodarone increases photosensitivity (sensitivity to light).

Additional information

Speak with your pharmacist if you plan to take vitamin B6 supplements. Your pharmacist can help you choose the solution that’s best for you based on your health and any drugs you take. 

Other names

Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal, Pyridoxamine