Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the water soluble, B-complex vitamins. Acting as a coenzyme, it is an extremely versatile nutrient that is involved in more than a hundred various biochemical processes in the body. In fact, vitamin B6 is involved in more processes in the body than any other vitamin. Some of vitamin B6’s most important health benefits include:
- Like the other B vitamins, vitamin B6 is critical for helping the body to convert protein, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy.
- It helps to the body process and absorb amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are needed for the proper function of nearly every biological process in the body.
- Vitamin B6 contributes to a strong and healthy immune system.
- Pyridoxine is necessary for a healthy and normally functioning brain and nervous system. It is especially important for the health of nerve cells.
- It helps the body to create red and white blood cells. Vitamin B6 also contributes to cardiovascular health by helping to inhibit the formation of cholesterol deposits.
- It helps to convert the amino acid tryptophan into vitamin B3 (niacin) and serotonin (an important chemical for healthy brain function).
- Pyridoxine is used by the body for creating various, important chemicals, such as insulin, hemoglobin, neurotransmitters, enzymes, adrenaline, histamine, and dopamine.
- It is also required for the body to be able to absorb vitamin B12 (cobalamin).
Function of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6, a water-soluble B vitamin, actually refers to a number of various compounds, including pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine, as well the phosphate derivatives of these compounds. The phosphate compounds are the most active in the bodily processes related to metabolizing amino acids and proteins. Pyridoxal 5-phosphate is the type of vitamin B6 that is the most critical for these types of processes.
Pyridoxine functions in the body as a coenzyme. As a B vitamin it is involved in metabolizing macro-nutrients, and converting them into energy that can be used by the body. It is also necessary for the body to be able to produce insulin, and red and white blood cells. It is one of the most vital nutrients needed for maintaining the health of both muscle and nerve cells, and is necessary for the production of of DNA and RNA.
Vitamin B6 can mostly be found in the liver and the muscles. The liver uses pyridoxine to create pyridoxal phosphate. Pyridoxal phosphate functions as a coenzyme. Coenzymes are needed by the body to metabolize glycogen and amino acids. Pyridoxal phosphate is also critical for the creation of certain, important neurotransmitters, like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Pryridoxal 5-phosphate and pyridoxamine 5-phosphate are the main forms of vitamin B6 that come from animal food sources. Pyridoxine and pyridoxine 5-phosphate, on the other hand, more often come from plant-based food sources. Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin B6 include liver and other organ meats, (fortified) whole grain products, spinach, bananas, and various nuts and legumes. Vitamin B6 is one of the most widely occurring nutrients, and some is found in almost every food. The amount of pyridoxine that is required by the body is proportional to how much protein is ingested.
Because pyridoxine can be found in most foods, the risk of suffering from a vitamin B6 deficiency is rather rare, particularly in developed nations. However, the risk of a deficiency increases when the intestines are not adequately absorbing nutrients. This can occur in those who have chronic alcoholism or those suffering from chronic diarrhea.