Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of eight vitamins in the complex B group. Although it was discovered in 1932, scientists are still learning about it. Most people get enough B6 in their diet, but if you lack other complex B vitamins, such as folate and B12, you may be deficient in vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 deficiency is most common in people with liver, kidney, digestive or immune disorders, as well as smokers, obese people, alcoholics, and pregnant women. In your body, B6 is involved in more than 150 enzymes. This helps your body process your protein, carbs, and fats. B6 is also closely linked to the functions of your nervous system and your body.
Recently, B6 has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that it can play a role in helping to prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Vitamin B6 deficiency is one of the causes of a red, smelly rash called seborrheic dermatitis. The rash may appear on your head, face, neck, and upper chest. It is known for its oily, flaky texture and can cause swelling or white spots.
One reason that B6 deficiency can lead to skin rashes is that the vitamin helps to synthesize collagen, which is needed for healthy skin. In these cases, using B6 can remove the rash immediately.
Some people affected by seborrheic dermatitis may have higher B6 requirements. The B6 face cream has helped some people develop symptoms from seborrheic dermatitis.
Broken and Painful Lips
Cheilosis, characterized by painful, red, and swollen lips with cracked corners in the mouth, can result from B6 deficiency. Cracked areas can bleed and become infected.
In addition to being extremely painful, having cracked and painful lips can make tasks like eating and talking difficult. Correcting B6 deficiency with a vitamin-rich diet or supplement can eliminate these symptoms.
Significantly, deficiency of riboflavin, folate, iron, and other nutrients can also cause this condition, as it can be sunny, dry, or windy and other external factors.
Sore, Glossy Tongue
If you have B6 deficiency, your tongue may be swollen, sore, smooth, swollen, or red. This is called glossitis. The glossy, smooth surface of the language is due to the loss of paper. That’s the bumps on your tongue. Glossitis can cause problems with chewing, swallowing, and talking.
Replacing B6 to treat glossitis, as long as death is the only cause. Deficiency of other nutrients, including folate and B12, can also lead to this condition. Adequate nutrition for all these vitamins may be needed when glossitis is removed.
B6 deficiency can affect your emotions, sometimes contributing to depression, anxiety, irritability, and growing feelings of pain. That is because B6 is involved in the production of many neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Both serotonin and GABA help control anxiety, depression, and feelings of pain.
The role of B6 in combating such emotional problems is explored in a variety of contexts. For example, in about half of people with autism, supplementation with B6 helps reduce behavioral problems, perhaps because it helps produce neurotransmitters.
Studies also suggest that taking 50-80 mg of B6 supplements daily can help with premenstrual syndromes (PMS) symptoms, such as weakness, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
One possible reason B6 can help with PMS is that it helps make serotonin, which raises your mood. Scientists are doing more research to find out if women who experience PMS are more likely to be deficient in vitamins and minerals.
Weak Immune System
Effective immune systems are key to preventing infections, inflammation, and various cancers. Deficiency of nutrients, including B6, can affect the immune system. Specifically, B6 deficiency can lead to reduced production of antibodies needed to fight infections.
B6 deficiency can also reduce your body’s production of white blood cells, including T cells. These cells control the body’s function, helping them to respond properly. Additionally, B6 helps your body make a protein called interleukin-2, which helps regulate the actions of white blood cells.
People with autoimmune diseases (where the immune system responds to them), can increase the destruction of B6, which increases the need for vitamins.
Fatigue and Low Energy
Vitamin B6 deficiency can leave you feeling overwhelmed and lazy. The main reason is the role of vitamin B6 in helping to make hemoglobin. That protein in your red blood cells helps carry oxygen throughout your body.
When your cells do not get enough oxygen because of too little hemoglobin, it is called anemia. That can make you feel tired and weak.
There have been selected cases of B6-related anemia were taking the inactive vitamin form of pyridoxine hydrochloride (HCl) did not help. However, the introduction of the highly active B6 form, called pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP), resolved the anemia.
You can buy any type of B6 as a supplement, but pyridoxine HCl is more common and usually less expensive than PLP. In addition to feeling tired due to anemia, B6 deficiency can also contribute to fatigue due to its role in making the hormone that promotes sleep melatonin.
Balance and Pain in the Hands and Feet
B6 deficiency can cause nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms may include fever, shooting, and pain in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Some describe it as the feeling of “pins and needles”. Emotional damage can also lead to confusion, balance problems, and difficulty walking.
In addition, taking too often an inactive form of B6 (pyridoxine HCl) in supplements can also cause neuropathy. This is possible because large amounts of inactive B6 can compete and block the active PLP form of B6 in your body.
Emotional problems caused by B6 deficiency are reversed by an insufficient B6 diet. On the other hand, neurological problems from B6 toxicity can be difficult to treat.
Fainting occurs for a variety of reasons, including B6 deficiency. Without enough B6, you do not make enough GABA silence the neurotransmitter, so your brain can be overwhelmed.
Fainting can cause symptoms such as muscle aches, rolling eyes, and thickened arms or legs. Sometimes people have a sudden, uncontrollable (convulsion) or loss of consciousness.
B6 deficiency is well-known to cause seizures in newborns. The first cases were identified in the 1950s when children were fed infant formula with insufficient B6.
Recently, reports of B6 deficiency have been reported in adults. These cases were often found in pregnancy, alcoholism, drug use, or liver disease. Correction of B6 deficiency has been shown to be very effective in treating related coma.
Homocysteine is a product produced during the digestion of proteins. Deficiency of B6, as well as folate and B12, can lead to an unusually high level of homocysteine, as these B vitamins are needed to help process homocysteine.
Elevated levels of homocysteine have been linked to a number of health problems, most notably heart disease and stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. When homocysteine is elevated, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves.
Fortunately, your homocysteine level can be tested with a simple blood test. Generally, high homocysteine can be reduced by taking supplements B6, B12, and folate.
Just keep in mind that other factors, such as your eating habits and physical activity, are also involved in diseases linked to high homocysteine and should be addressed.
What causes B6 deficiency?
Vitamin B6 deficiency is usually caused by pyridoxine-inactivating drugs (eg, isoniazid), protein-energy undernutrition, malabsorption, alcoholism, or excessive loss. Deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy, seborrheic dermatitis, glossitis, and cheilosis, and, in adults, depression, confusion, and seizures.
What happens if you have too little vitamin B6?
People who don't get enough vitamin B6 can have a range of symptoms, including anemia, itchy rashes, scaly skin on the lips, cracks at the corners of the mouth, and a swollen tongue. Other symptoms of very low vitamin B6 levels include depression, confusion, and a weak immune system.
What blocks B6 absorption?
Certain conditions can increase the risk of developing a deficiency by interfering with the absorption of vitamin B6: Kidney disease. Autoimmune intestinal disorders like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. Autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
How long does it take to recover from vitamin B6 deficiency?
Very high doses, 200 mg or more per day, of vitamin B6, can cause neurological disorders, such as loss of feeling in the legs and imbalance. Stopping high doses usually leads to complete recovery within 6 months.