Vitamin B6 deficiency

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the water-soluble B-complex vitamins. It has major and important roles in the body; without any of the B vitamins, our bodies would be in serious trouble. As a whole, the B vitamins are somewhat responsible for the metabolic processes that go on in each and every cell of the body. Furthermore, each B vitamin, for example vitamin B6, has its own special functions in addition to that. When the body doesn’t have enough vitamin B6, a state of deficiency can develop.

Role of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in many of the chemical reactions going on in the body. It is needed for heme formation, which carries oxygen in the blood; it plays a role in brain functions; vitamin B6 helps reduce stress, lower cholesterol, and prevent dental cavities; it is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and also for myelin formation.

Food Sources
Food sources of vitamin B6 include meats, whole grain products, vegetables, bananas, wheat germ, yeast, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Raw foods are a better source of this vitamin. Because it is present in so many foods, it is difficult to become deficient in the vitamin.

Causes of Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin B6, however uncommon, can occur in those with uremia, alcoholism, cirrhosis, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, congestive heart failure, and in those taking certain medications. Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) have also said to be a cause of acquiring vitamin B6 deficiency in women. It can also happen because processing and cooking can cause the loss of this nutrient from foods, so people aren’t getting as much of it as they should be. Those with depression tend to have lower than normal levels of vitamin B6 since it is so closely associated with mood disorders, due to its link to serotonin.

Signs and Symptoms of Deficiency
Signs and symptoms of deficiency are pellagra, which is characterized by dermatitis, glossitis, cheilosis, depression, confusion, EEG abnormalities, and seizures. Anemia can also develop as a result of vitamin B6 deficiency. Other symptoms associated with a deficiency in vitamin B6 are insomnia, irritability, weakness, paranoia, lack of sex drive, water retention, rapid weight gain or weight loss, problems with metabolizing sugars, walking problems, and cracked skin at the corners of the mouth.

Treatment of Deficiency
Fortunately, treatment for vitamin B6 deficiency is very easily obtained. It is simply to take an oral tablet of 10-20 milligrams per day. However, doses up to 100 mg may be a more successful treatment for some people. Even higher than that, those with an inherited tendency to vitamin B6 deficiency can take up to 600 mg daily.

Recommended Intake
Depending on a person’s age and gender, the recommended daily intake will slightly vary.
Infants 0-6 months 0.1 mg
Infants 7-12 months 0.3 mg
Children 1-3 years 0.5 mg
Children 4-8 years 0.6 mg
Males 9-13 years 1.0 mg
Males 14-18 years 1.3 mg
Males 19-50 years 1.3 mg
Males 50 + years 1.7 mg
Females 9-13 years 1.0 mg
Females 14-18 years 1.2 mg
Females 19-50 years 1.3 mg
Females 50 + years 1.5 mg
Pregnant women 1.9 mg
Lactating women    2.0 mg

Talk With Your Healthcare Provider
If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of a vitamin B6 deficiency, schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor. It is not a good idea to take matters into your own hands and diagnose what you think might be a deficiency, and then buy an over-the-counter supplement for treatment. The best way to go about it is get the advice of your doctor.

Last updated on Nov 12th, 2010 and filed under Vitamins and Minerals. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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