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Vitamin B6


What is vitamin B6?

What does Vitamin B6 do?


Additional benefits

How much do you need and daily recommended dosage

Foods that contain and supply vitamin B6

Buying Vitamin B6 supplements

How to take vitamin B6 supplements

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What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is probably involved in more bodily processes than any other vitamin or mineral. Referred to as "the workhorse of nutrients", it performs more than 100 jobs innumerable times a day.

Another name for vitamin B6 is pyridoxine. In supplement form, it is available as pyridoxine hydrochloride or pyridoxal-5-phosphate (p-5-p). Either form satisfies most needs but some nutritionally oriented doctors prefer p-5-p because it may be better absorbed.


What does Vitamin B6 do?


  • helps prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes
  • helps to lift depression
  • eases insomnia
  • treats carpal tunnel syndrome
  • may lessen PMS symptoms
  • helps relieve asthma attacks 

Vitamin B6 and carpal tunnel syndrome

After I was involved in a car accident, I ended up with severe pain and tingling in my arms, hands and fingers.  I was diagnosed with advanced carpal tunnel syndrome.  The accident probably didn't cause it, but it sure aggravated it and fast.  I refused to have surgery (most people I know who had it only had horror stories to tell) and I didn't want pain killers. 

It was so bad, I was afraid to drive because I couldn't feel my hands, the pain woke me up many nights and kept me up for hours, taking a shower and getting dressed had become quite a chore (try buttoning a blouse/shirt or doing your bra when you can't feel your fingers!), I dropped stuff, what a nightmare!  So I dug out my herbal books and read that Vitamin B6 could help relieve the symptoms. 

I've found that taking one Vitamin B6 - 50mg - with lunch and dinner every day TOTALLY relieved my symptoms.  I thought I had found a miracle cure for my problem.  The relief lasted about a month or two and then the pain and tingling came back.  So I stopped taking my B6 supplement for a while.  Yes, I had to deal with the pain all over again.  Then a few weeks later, I started taking B6 supplements again.  The pain and tingling went away again.  Since my car accident in September 2003, I have been taking vitamin B6 on and off regularly and today I barely have any symptoms at all of the carpal tunnel syndrome.  It really does work!


Getting enough vitamin B6 from your diet or supplements may help prevent heart disease.


Additional benefits

Vitamin B6 is involved in the process of clearing excess estrogen from the body, so it may be helpful to relieve PMS symptoms.

It may be useful in reducing the likelihood of having epileptic seizures as well as reducing depression.

Vitamin B6 maintains nerve health. People with diabetes who are at risk for nerve damage can benefit from B6. It is also effective in easing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome which involves nerve inflammation in the wrist causing pain and tingling in the fingers, hands and arms.

For people with asthma, vitamin B6 may reduce the intensity and frequency of attacks.


How much do you need and what is the recommended daily dosage for Vitamin B6?

The RNI for vitamin B6 is about 1.3 mg a day for women and men under 50, and 1.5 mg a day for women and 1.7 mg a day for men over 50.  Doses up to 100 mg a day are generally safe, even for long-term use.  Therapeutic doses are higher.  

Mild deficiencies of B6 vitamin may increase the risk of heart attack and vascular diseases.  Symptoms of severe deficiency, which is rare, are skin disorders such as dermatitis, sores around the mouth, and acne.  Neurological signs include insomnia, depression, and in extreme cases, seizures and brain wave abnormalities.

If you get too much -  High doses of vitamin B6 (more than 2,000 mg a day) can cause nerve damage when taken for long periods.  In rare cases, prolonged use at 200-300 mg per day can produce the same effect.  Fortunately, nerve damage is completely reversible once you stop taking the vitamin.  If you're using B6 for nerve pain, talk to your doctor if you experience any new numbness or tingling and stop taking the vitamin.  

Foods that supply vitamin B6

  • fish
  • poultry
  • chickpeas
  • potatoes
  • avocados
  • bananas 


Buying Vitamin B6 supplements


How to take Vitamin B6 supplements

`You can keep homocysteine (heart health) in check with just 3 mg of B6 a day, but a daily dose of 50 mg is often recommended.  Higher doses are needed for therapeutic uses.

For PMS:  100 mg of B6 a day

Carpal tunnel syndrome:  try 50 mg of B6 or P-5-P three times a day

Asthma:  take 50 mg of B6 twice a day

Vitamin B6 is best absorbed in doses of no more than 100 mg at one time.  When taking higher doses, this more gradual intake will also decrease your chances of nerve damage.


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