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Vitamin B6 and your healthShould you pick a single vitamin that has more functions in the body than any other, you wouldn't go wrong if you'd opt for vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride; also pyridoxal and pyridoxamine, all three forms being equally active). It is cofactor in well over 100 different enzymes, which makes it part of a large number of key body processes and functions, from metabolism to immune-system functioning, detoxication and neurological function. Vitamin B6 is necessary for proper absorption of vitamin B12, as well as for tryptophan-to-niacin (vitamin B2) conversion.
Since vitamin B6 can be found in sufficient quantities in a variety of foods, serious deficiency is unlikely. However, mild to moderate deficiencies do exist, with women and the elderly being more at risk. Also, its absorption and use by the body can be significantly reduced by excessive intake of protein, alcohol, yellow food dyes and oral contraceptives.
List of possible deficiency symptoms is long, and includes numbness in the extremities, dermatitis, anemia, kidney stones, irritability and depression.
Vitamin B6 toxicity for most people occurs with doses exceeding 150mg a day. List of toxicity and possible negative effects is even longer, including severe deficiency of the key minerals (magnesium and/or calcium), depression, low blood sugar, disturbed thyroid function, neural degeneration, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis, and more.
Daily vitamin B6 DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes, the most recent set of dietary recommendations set by the government) for an average healthy adult is 1.3mg.
Best natural B6 food sources are bananas, other fruits, seeds, meat and whole grains.