Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water so the body cannot store them. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a regular supply of these vitamins in your diet.
Vitamin B6 helps the body to:
- Make antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases.
- Maintain normal nerve function.
- Make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the red blood cells to the tissues. A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a form of anemia.
- Break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
- Keep blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges.
Vitamin B6 is found in:
- Legumes (dried beans)
- Beef and pork
- Whole grains and fortified cereals
Fortified breads and cereals may also contain vitamin B6. Fortified means that a vitamin or mineral has been added to the food.
Large doses of vitamin B6 can cause:
- Difficulty coordinating movement
- Sensory changes
Deficiency of this vitamin can cause:
- Mouth and tongue sores also known as glossitis
- Peripheral neuropathy
(Vitamin B6 deficiency is not common in the United States.)
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflects how much of each vitamin people should receive on a daily basis. The RDA for vitamins may be used to help create goals for each person.
How much of each vitamin is needed depends on a person's age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy and illnesses, are also important. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin B6:
- 0 to 6 months: 0.1* milligrams per day (mg/day)
- 7 to 12 months: 0.3* mg/day
*Adequate intake (AI)
- 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg/day
- 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg/day
- 9 to 13 years: 1.0 mg/day
Adolescents and Adults
- Males age 14 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day
- Males over 50 years: 1.7 mg/day
- Females age 14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg/day
- Females age 19 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day
- Females over 50 years: 1.5 mg/day
- Females of all ages 1.9 mg/day during pregnancy and 2.0 mg/day during lactation
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.
Pyridoxal; Pyridoxine; Pyridoxamine
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1998. PMID: 23193625 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23193625.
Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 225.
Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 26.
Update Date 2/2/2015
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.