Like all other B vitamins, vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, which can normally be easily covered through food in relation to the daily requirement. However, there are diseases such as HPU / KPU, in which a B6 deficiency quickly develops, since the vitamin is flushed out of the body through the urine.
Deficiencies can also quickly occur in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, since in this case the vitamins are difficult to absorb from food via the intestinal mucosa.
In these cases, a deficiency can quickly develop and the vitamin B6 should be taken as a dietary supplement, but more on that later.
The human body absorbs vitamin B6 through the intestinal mucosa of the upper small intestine. This happens with an absorption rate of approx. 70% via passive diffusion.
After the vitamin has been converted into the active form P5P (pyridoxal phosphate) in the body, most of it is stored in the liver.
Consequences of a B6 deficiency
If the body lacks this vitamin, it is quite common for the liver to malfunction, which has fatal consequences for the entire organism, because the liver’s main function, detoxification, can no longer work properly.
But a healthy vitamin B6 level is also essential for the nervous system, as it is responsible for the formation of new messenger substances in the nerve cells.
Vitamin B6 is also involved in the formation of the red blood pigment hemoglobin and bile acid, and important minerals such as iron, magnesium or calcium cannot be properly utilized without vitamin B6.
Important in the case of histamine intolerance: Vitamin B6 or the active form P5P is necessary to break down histamine in the body.
What are the functions of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal phosphate) in the human body?
- Aid in protein digestion
- Help with detoxification
- Formation of messenger substances in the nerve cells
- Assisting in the formation of hemoglobin
- Ensures normal homocysteine metabolism
- Serves as a catalyst in metabolism
- Regulates hormone activity
Typical symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency
In our latitudes, a B6 deficiency is quite rare, but as already mentioned at the beginning, it is very common, especially in autoimmune diseases ( Hashimoto’s thyroiditis ), HPU / KPU and inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease).
But pregnant women and young people who have increased protein consumption due to their growth phases should also ensure they eat a diet rich in vitamin B6. This also applies to smokers and alcoholics.
If there is actually a B6 deficiency in the body, multi-organ problems occur very often, since the vitamin is involved in more than 100 different metabolic processes. If these can no longer run correctly, the affected organs report their specific symptoms.
In particular, vegans and vegetarians should pay attention to a diet containing vitamin B6 and, under certain circumstances, consider whether a dietary supplement with this vitamin would make sense.
Due to the fact that vitamin B6 is water soluble, the body’s store of pyridoxine can be depleted within 2-6 weeks if not replenished. Once this point is reached, the following symptoms may occur:
- Pale complexion
- nausea and vomiting
- fatigue and weakness
- anxiety disorders
- loss of appetite
- lack of concentration
- learning disabilities
- difficulty breathing
- growth disorders
- sensitivity to light
- susceptibility to infection
- Indigestion, constipation, diarrhea
- coordination disorders
- Anemia (microcytic, hypochromic anemia)
- muscle cramps
What foods are rich in B6
According to the DGE, a daily intake of approx. 2mg of vitamin B6 is recommended. With the following foods, you can cover this need relatively quickly:
- beef liver
- chicken meat
- green beans
- Lamb’s lettuce
- plant germs
It is difficult to quantify the exact B6 content in the foods mentioned above, as this depends on the type of preparation as well as the quality and freshness of the food.
It should be remembered that the B6 content in frozen foods is usually up to 50% lower than in fresh foods. However, up to 30% of the vitamin is also lost when frying and cooking.
Too much B6 – What happens in the event of an overdose?
As with all supplements , it is possible to overdose on this vitamin. However, you really have to take a lot in tablet form. From 500mg per day there can and will be problems in the long run.
An overdose of B6 becomes noticeable in the form of nerve damage and usually comes with the following symptoms:
- signs of paralysis
- Numb feeling in hands and feet
- inflammatory skin reactions
- strong sensitivity to light
- skin rash
- Disturbances in tactile and temperature sensitivity
- skin discomfort
- memory disorders