Vitamin B6 is included in multivitamins for its role in protein and glucose metabolism, hemoglobin formation, and more.
Vitamin B6 is a crucial player in over 100 essential chemical reactions in the body, and is best known for:
- Protein and glucose metabolism. B6 is needed to produce and utilize proteins and glycogen (stored form of energy).
- Helping form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.
First discovered in 1934, vitamin B6 has since been classified as one of the body’s essential nutrients. The vitamin takes on many different forms, among which pyridoxine is most commonly used for supplementation.
Vitamin B6 helps the body facilitate over 100 different reactions that are needed for:
- breaking down protein that we eat and using it for energy and other processes
- Producing neurotransmitters (More on B6 as a nootropic)
- Synthesis of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells
- Regulation of homocysteine1
Fortunately, large stores of vitamin B6 are found in a variety of foods, including meats, bananas, chickpeas, and potatoes, and the large majority of people meet the recommend dietary intakes for this essential nutrient.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B6
|0 – 12 months||0.1 – 0.3 mg||0.1 – 0.3 mg|
|1 – 8 years||0.5 – 0.6 mg||0.5 – 0.6 mg|
|9 – 13 years||1 mg||1 mg|
|14 – 18 years||1.3 mg||1.2 mg (1.9 mg for pregnancy, 2 mg for breast-feeding)|
|19+||1.3 mg||mg (1.9 mg for pregnancy, 2 mg for breast-feeding)|
Foods High in Vitamin B6
|Food||Serving Size||Amount per serving (mg)|
|Wild tuna||3 ounces||0.87|
|Chicken breast||3 ounces||0.46|
|Sweet potato||½ cup||0.29|
How Vitamin B6 Supports General Health
Catalyzing biochemical processes
In the form of aspyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), vitamin B6 helps facilitate a number of important biological processes, including :2
- Breaking down protein. PLP is needed to break down dietary protein into amino acids, which then be used for energy, for producing glucose or fats, or for making other amino acids.
- Synthesizing neurotransmitters. PLP helps produce vital neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA).3
- Hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin is a core part of red blood cells, and PLP helps produce the component of red blood cells that holds iron, known as heme.4 Adequate amounts of hemoglobin are essential for healthy oxygen flow throughout the body. A low count of vitamin B6 impairs hemoglobin synthesis and likely results in the development of a blood disorder called anemia.5
- Glucose metabolism. Vitamin B6 not only promotes gluconeogenesis, the process of making glucose in the body, but also helps draw out glucose from the body’s glycogen stores.
Vitamin B6’s Benefits as a Multivitamin
Most people get plenty of vitamin B6 from their diets and deficiency is relatively rare. However, it is still added to multivitamins to make sure your levels meet the recommended daily intake.
In addition to its vital role in essential bodily processes, there is some research evidence that increased vitamin B6 intake is correlated with a reduced chance of developing coronary artery and heart conditions. As such, taking a multivimtain with B6 can also help protect you from these cardiovascular disorders. 6 7 8 9
- Multivitamins generally include 10 – 50 mg of vitamin B6
Supplements in Review Says
- Vitamin B6 2 mg as part of a multivitamin.
Vitamin B6 is essential to good health. Vitamin B6 participates in over 100 essential reactions in the body, warranting its inclusion in multivitamin products.
A dose of 2 mg is enough to meet your daily needs. Although doses as high as 100 mg have been taken with no side effects, the body only really needs about 2 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
- Mayer EL, et al. Homocysteine and coronary atherosclerosis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1996;27:517-27. ↩
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998. ↩
- Clayton PT. B6-responsive disorders: a model of vitamin dependency. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2006;29(2-3):317-26. ↩
- Najean Y. Role of pyridoxine in the synthesis of hemoglobin. Pathol Biol. 1961 Oct;9:1947-50. ↩
- Dawson DW, et al. Pyridoxine-responsive hypochromic anemia. A report of two case. Lancet. 1961 Jul 1;2(7192):10-4. ↩
- Rimm EB, et al. Folate and vitamin B6 from diet and supplements in relation to risk of coronary heart disease among women. JAMA. 1998;279(5):359-64. ↩
- Ishihara J, et al. Intake of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 and the risk of CHD: the Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study Cohort I. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008;27(1):127-36. ↩
- Folsom AR, et al. Prospective study of coronary heart disease incidence in relation to fasting total homocysteine, related genetic polymorphisms, and B vitamins: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Circulation. 1998;98(3):204-10. ↩
- Robinson K, et al. Low circulating folate and vitamin B6 concentrations: risk factors for stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary artery disease. European COMAC Group. Circulation. 1998;97(5):437-43. ↩