Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, called essential because our body does not know how to make it, or how to store it, and therefore it must be supplied daily through food.
It plays an important role in the metabolism of amino acids and proteins, which is why it is called the muscle vitamin.
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It was in 1934 that Hungarian scientist Paul Gyorgy, while searching for a cure for a skin disease through tests on rats, isolated vitamin B6.
It would then take 5 years for it to be synthesized and given the scientific name of pyridoxine. The other two forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal and pyridoxamine) were identified in 1945.
We will discover later that the muscle vitamin is also essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin (happiness hormone), melatonin (sleep hormone) or dopamine (pleasure hormone)!
Vitamin B6 is present in many foods, but it is found in greater amounts in offal, mainly in the liver of beef, chicken, veal or lamb (0.7 to 1.2 mg/100 g).
It is also found in poultry such as chicken or turkey (0.6 mg/100 g)…, as well as in fish: tuna, salmon, cod, octopus (0.5 to 0.7 mg/100 g).
Oil seeds are also very well supplied with vitamin B6, especially pistachios (1.4 mg/100 g), flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds…
Legumes, especially chickpeas (0.5 mg/100 g) and lentils (0.45 mg/100 g), as well as whole grains: brown rice (0.23 mg/100 g), whole wheat (0.17 mg/100 g), quinoa (0.17 mg/100 g), sorghum (0.2 mg/100 g), wheat bran (0.2 mg/100 g)
Vegetables can also be interesting sources of vitamin B6, with potatoes (0.3 mg/100 g), dried shiitake mushrooms (1 mg/100 g) or palm hearts (0.8 mg/100 g).
Among fruits, banana is the richest (0.6 mg/100 g), even richer when dried (1.3 mg/100 g).
You can effectively supplement your intake of vitamin B6 by regularly consuming brewer’s yeast (4 mg/100 g) or wheat germ (2.3 mg/100 g).
And breakfast cereals, when fortified, are also a very good source of vitamin B6 with a content of between 1.2 and 3.3 mg/100 g.
Benefits and virtues
Taken in association with vitamin B9 and vitamin B12, vitamin B6 would help reduce the level of homocysteine in the blood, an amino acid whose excess would be responsible for the formation of atherosclerosis, which is linked to increased cardiovascular risk.
According to several studies, there is an undeniable relationship between hyperhomocysteinemia and myocardial infarction or stroke.
Another large study, published in the Nurses’ Health Study, shows that women who receive a vitamin B6 (4.6 mg/day) and B9 supplement have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Several double-blind studies conducted in women in the pre-menstrual phase show a clearer improvement of symptoms (intestinal swelling, irritability, anxiety, etc.) than with a placebo.
It is the role of vitamin B6 in the production of neurotransmitters (serotonin, melatonin, dopamine) that is responsible for this effect in PMS.
Nausea of pregnancy
A first study conducted in 1995 demonstrated the effectiveness of vitamin B6 supplements in improving nausea during pregnancy.
These results were corroborated by two other studies conducted in 2003 and 2004 that showed an improvement in nausea but also in frequent vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Hair and Nail Beauty
It is thanks to its role in the production of cysteine, one of the main constituents of the famous keratin, essential for the quality of dandruff, that vitamin B6 is so important for the beauty and health of hair and nails.
It is then in the form of pyridoxine that vitamin B6 is administered.
The recommended nutritional intake of vitamin B6 is 1.8 mg per day for men and 1.5 mg per day for women. Deficiencies are rare and are only seen in cases of alcoholism or severe kidney failure.
When too high a dose is administered, neurological or memory disorders may occur.
For use as a dietary supplement, the usual prescribed doses are 35 to 140 mg per day.
30 mg per day is recommended for the treatment of nausea in pregnancy.
Be careful, however, with too high a dose (more than 500 mg), vitamin B6 can have the opposite effect and cause nausea and vomiting. These doses are however difficult to achieve unless there is a dosing error.
For the prevention of cardiovascular risks, 4.6 mg per day combined with vitamin B9 is recommended.
Side effects and contraindications
In the case of levodopa-based treatment of Parkinson’s disease, vitamin B6 supplementation is contraindicated, as it may reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.
Estrogens and oral contraceptives increase the need for vitamin B6.
Anti-tuberculosis treatments based on isoniazid can cause a vitamin B6 deficiency. Therefore, the prescription of vitamin B6 in pyridoxine form is recommended as a supplement.
Let’s go further… new scientific discoveries…
In a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the University of Colombia discovered a way to reduce the harmful effect of air pollution on cardiovascular diseases by using a cocktail of group B vitamins (B6, B9 and B12).
According to Professor Jia Zhong, the study’s principal investigator, “Environmental pollution is one of the most common air pollutants and has a negative effect on heart function and the immune system,” and he even states that his study “provides evidence that vitamin B supplementation can mitigate its acute effects on heart dysfunction and inflammatory markers.
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