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Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the family of eight B vitamins that our bodies need to stay healthy.
It is water soluble, which means that it cannot be stored in our bodies, so we need to get enough in our diets every day.1
Vitamin B6 is needed for:2,3
You can get all the vitamin B6 you need from a healthy balanced diet.4 Rich sources include seafood, lean meat, chickpeas, poultry, potatoes and bananas.5
A lack of vitamin B6 is rare in healthy, younger adults, but can be more common in elderly people who may have poor eating habits. Symptoms include numbness in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy) and anaemia.6
Vitamin B6 is needed for healthy nervous and psychological function, helping to support the neurons transmitting messages around the brain.7
It’s critical for releasing energy from our food – it helps our bodies keep blood glucose levels steady, and is needed by more than 100 enzymes that process the proteins, carbohydrates and fat we eat.8,9
Vitamin B6 also helps make haemoglobin, used by red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body and supports healthy immune function.10
The reference nutrient intake (RNI) is 1.2mg a day for women and 1.5mg for men.11
Food sources of vitamin B6 include:13
Vitamin B6 deficiency is rare in healthy adults and children, but older people (particularly those with poor diets or malnutrition) are more at risk.14
A lack of vitamin B6 can lead to a condition called peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
Other symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:15
Taking more than 200mg a day of vitamin B6 for long periods is known to trigger peripheral neuropathy. This can be permanent, so make sure you never consume too much.16
High doses of vitamin B6 can also cause sores on the skin, sensitivity to sunlight, and digestive troubles, including heartburn and nausea.17
Just as with adults, a healthy, balanced diet should provide all the vitamin B6 your child needs.18
Chances are, you get enough vitamin B6 from your diet. However, it’s thought to be safe to take at normal doses during pregnancy.19
Vitamin B6 supplements can help maintain normal levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Raised levels of homocysteine have been linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.20
Before taking any supplements or minerals, it’s best to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients through your diet first. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 4 August 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.