Health Benefits of Vitamin B6

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 23, 2022
3 min read

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of eight B vitamins that your body needs to stay healthy.

This nutrient is an essential part of nearly 200 chemical reactions in your body, and it’s necessary for processes like brain development and transporting oxygen through your bloodstream. Vitamin B6 also helps you maintain a healthy nervous and immune system.

Because vitamin B6 affects so many systems in your body, it has many benefits to you health, including:

Better circulation. Homocysteine is one of 21 amino acids in your body. High levels of homocysteine in your bloodstream can lead to heart problems. Vitamin B6 helps maintain a normal amount of this amino acid in your blood.

A stronger immune system. Vitamin B6 helps chemical reactions in the immune system, helping it work better. Eating foods rich in vitamin B6 will help your body guard against infection. Studies conducted with older adults have linked low levels of vitamin B6 with poor immune response.

Less morning sickness. Studies have found that taking vitamin B6 may help ease nausea during pregnancy, though it doesn’t help with vomiting.

Better mood. Your body needs vitamin B6 to make serotonin, a hormone that elevates your mood. Some studies have shown that not having enough vitamin B6 in your diet can contribute to depression

Help with PMS. There is evidence to suggest taking vitamin B6 supplements can ease some of the effects of premenstrual syndrome, including:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Lower cancer risk. Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B6 in your blood might also help reduce your chances of cancer. If you already have cancer, Studies have shown that vitamin B6 may slow tumor growth.

Better brain function. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline. Vitamin B6 helps the body regulate levels of homocysteine in the blood.

Taking vitamin B6 as a supplement is generally considered safe, as long as you’re taking the recommended dosage. Adults shouldn’t take more than 100 milligrams of a vitamin B6 supplement per day.

Taking too much can cause:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Numbness
  • A lack of muscle control or coordination
  • Lesions
  • A hard time sensing pain or extreme temperatures

Vitamin B6 can be found naturally in many foods and is available as an additive or supplement.

Foods rich in vitamin B6 include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Kale
  • Nuts

Americans get most of their vitamin B6 from:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Fortified cereals
  • Non-citrus fruits.

For adults under 50, the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6 is 1.3 milligrams. Men over 50 should get 1.7 and women over 50 should get 1.5.

Pregnant people should aim for 1.9 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day.

Eating a healthy, varied diet will provide most people with the right amount of vitamin B6. Severe vitamin B6 deficiency is rare. But people with certain conditions, including kidney disease, malabsorption syndrome, and drinking problems might need vitamin B6 supplements.

Additionally, people keeping a strict vegetarian diet may need to take a vitamin B6 supplement or eat foods fortified with it.