Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vitamin B6 and Your Health

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water-soluble vitamin that is required for a wide range of metabolic processes in your body. It is important for healthy blood formation, nerve function and normal brain activity.

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in a number of metabolic activities related to the release of energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. It is also necessary for the production of hemoglobin - the red pigment in red blood cells. Vitamin B6 also works with folic acid and vitamin B 12 in regulating homocysteine levels in the blood. High levels of homocysteine may be a risk factor for heart disease. Another important role of vitamin B6 is in the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to niacin and serotonin. Serotonin is a mood hormone – that makes us feel good.

Vitamin B6: Deficiency: Causes 
Vitamin B6 deficiency may result from inadequate dietary intake. This is most likely to occur in people who may have poor appetite or swallowing problems and are unable to eat enough to get the nutrition they need. People who live extensively on refined, processed foods may also be at increased risk for a vitamin B6 deficiency.

People who suffer from malabsorption, and those on certain prescription drugs, like Isoniazid, and women who use hormonal contraceptives (oral contraceptives) are also at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency: Symptoms 
Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency may include cracked or chopped lips, sore tongue, weakness, fatigue and depression. Anemia, and neurological problems, such as numbness and tingling of the hands and feet are also signs of vitamin B6 deficiency.

Prevention and Treatment of Vitamin B6 Deficiency 
Eating a diet rich in vitamin B6 will help to reduce the risk of deficiency in people who do not have other underlying conditions. In cases where the problem stems from other medical conditions, a supplement may be necessary. 

Food Sources of Vitamin B6 
Vitamin B6 is available from a wide range of foods, including potatoes, avocados, bananas, meat, fish, poultry and nuts. It is also found in vitamin B6 fortified cereals and other foods.

Recommended Intake for Vitamin B6 
The RDA for vitamin B6, which has been established by the National Academy of Sciences is between 1.3 and 1.7 milligrams per day for American adults. Pregnant and lactating women need slightly more.

Select a variety of whole foods daily and avoid highly processed foods in order to get the vitamin B6 you need for hundreds of metabolic processes that take place in your body every moment. Lack of this vitamin could have serious adverse effects on your mood, mental functions and your physical health.