What is Vitamin B-6?

nuts vitamins B6Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin. It is known to exist in three chemical forms- pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. It was a compound that was discovered in the 1930’s on nutrition studies on rats. The three forms of vitamin B6 are precursors of PLP (pyridoxal 5′-phosphate), an activated compound which plays a vital role as an essential part of a large number of essential enzymes found in the human body.

Vitamin B6 performs a variety of functions in the body. This vitamin is needed by more than a hundred different enzymes that is involved in protein metabolism. This vitamin is also essential in the metabolism of red blood cells. Not only that, the body’s immune system as well as the nervous system need vitamin B6 in order to function more efficiently. Vitamin B6 is also needed by the body in order to convert an amino acid, tryptophan, into niacin which is another vitamin.

Hemoglobin Production

The body needs vitamin B6 in order to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin in the red blood cells is needed in order to carry oxygen into the tissues. Not only that vitamin B6 also helps increase the capacity of hemoglobin to carry oxygen. That is why lack of this vitamin can result in a form of anemia.

Vitamin B6 And The Immune System

Although the immune system also requires a number of essential vitamins and minerals in order to function efficiently, vitamin B6 plays a significant role in this function as well. Its role is in helping maintain the health of the lymphoid organs like the spleen, thymus and the lymph nodes which is responsible in producing the white blood cells that fight infection in the body. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can also decrease antibody production as well as suppress the body’s immune response.

Vitamin B6 and Blood Glucose

Vitamin B6 also helps in maintaining a normal blood glucose level in the body. When the body experiences a low caloric intake, it needs vitamin B6 in order to help convert the stored carbohydrates and other nutrients into glucose in order to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Although a deficiency of vitamin B6 would certainly limit this function, more of it would also not enhance it in well-nourished individuals.

Sources of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can be sourced from a variety of foods. It can be found in vegetables, beans, meat, fortified cereals, fruits, poultry and fish. The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg for men as well as women. Older people may need more of the vitamin with males 51 years old and above needing 1.7 mg daily while females at the same age requiring about 1.5 mg of vitamin B6 daily. Pregnant women may need to take a regular daily dose of 1.9 mg of vitamin B6 with lactating mothers requiring even more at 2.0 mg of the said vitamin a day.