What is vitamin B6?

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Elizabeth Casparro, MPH,RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Vitamin B6 is an essential water-soluble nutrient that actually refers to a group of 6 compounds that are all converted to the same coenzyme (enzyme helper) in the liver: PLP. This coenzyme is essential for over 100 different enzymes, but most notably plays an active role in protein and amino acid metabolism. It is necessary for synthesis of nonessential amino acids (ones that we don't need to consume and can get from the essential amino acids), supports white blood cells and red blood cells, is needed for hemoglobin synthesis and is involved in hormone regulation.

Deficiency can lead to a certain type of anemia, convulsion, depression, confusion, reduced immune response and skin inflammation. However, too much can lead to irreversible nerve damage and possibly photosensitivity. Nevertheless, it is still sometimes used to treat infertility and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Luckily, it can be found in many food sources: meat, fish, poultry, whole grains (not enriched), banana, spinach, avocado, and potatoes.
Vitamin B6 helps the body produce antibodies to combat diseases. Also known as pyridoxine, it helps to maintain nerve function, the production of red blood cells and it contributes to healthy skin. B6 also helps the body process proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids and fats. Vitamin B6 is found in foods like meats, beans, nuts and eggs. It can also be taken in tablet form as a supplement if your body is deficient in levels of B6.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.