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. Although the body maintains a small pool of water soluble vitamins, they have to be taken regularly.
Lack of Vitamin B6 in the body is uncommon. It can occur in people with kidney failure, liver disease, or drinking problem.
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:
- Tuna and salmon
- Legumes (dried beans)
- Beef and pork
- Whole grains and fortified cereals
- Canned chickpeas
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 sex. 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
Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 218.
Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 26.
Review Date 2/2/2019
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.