Vitamin B6 is also called as pyridoxine and is a water soluble vitamin. It breaks down the protein that we consume thus enabling the muscles to absorb the energy. The body needs Vitamin B6 for about more than 100 enzyme reactions that are involved and required for metabolism. It plays an important role in developing the brain as well as the immune system. In addition to the above functions, Vitamin B6 is essential for the body because it makes the antibodies that are needed to fight diseases, helps to maintain normal nerve function, make haemoglobin, carry oxygen through the red blood cells to the tissues by participating in the synthesis of hormones and red blood cells, and keep the blood sugar levels within the normal range.
Vitamin B6 intake depends upon the age, gender, illnesses and whether the individual is pregnant. It also depends on the amount of protein consumed. Generally, an infant should consume about 0.1 mg per day; an adult male should consume about 1.3 -1.7 mg of Vitamin B6 daily; females need a consumption of about 1.3 -1.5 mg and pregnant women require about 1.9 - 2 mg of Vitamin B6 regularly.
If one does not replenish the required amount of Vitamin B6 it causes confusion, depression, irritability, sores in the tongue and mouth, anaemia, itchy rashes, scaly skin on the lips, cracks at the corners of the mouth, swollen mouth and weak immune system. Deficiency of Vitamin B6 may lead to extremely sensitive hearing or seizures.
As Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin, it gets dissolved easily in the body. Hence this needs constant replenishment. Generally fortified cereals and breads contain Vitamin B6. Natural and rich sources of Vitamin B6 are found in foods like fish, chicken, bananas, meat, whole grain products, nuts, vegetables, legumes, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, plantains and winter quash.
Many multivitamins contain Vitamin B6. They are usually available in dietary supplements in the form of pyridoxine. They are available at the chemists in the form of tablets and should be consumed only on the advice of the physician.
Lack of Vitamin B6 during pregnancy may lead to abnormal heart rhythm, skin reactions, gastrointestinal effects, vomiting, lump in the throat, abdominal discomfort, sedation, breast soreness or enlargement, persistent bleeding, etc. Also it lowers blood pressure and may affect the blood sugar levels.