Vitamin B6

In this article, we’re going to cover some really vitamin B6 which is very important for mental and emotional health: Vitamin B6 is a nutrient that should be tested if you’re dealing with any kind of mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, this vitamin, as well as vitamin B3, is typically overlooked by conventional medicine. And if you are able to get lab tests done, the reference ranges given on the lab reports are generally based on a sick population rather than on optimal levels.

The good news is that integrative doctors will often test these vitamins and will work toward helping you achieve healthy, optimal levels. Doing so may go a long way toward improving your mental and emotional health.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (also called Pyridoxine) is a very important nutrient for good mental and emotional health. It’s actually required for over 100 different enzyme reactions in the body, including ones affecting neurotransmitters. (1)

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

A Vitamin B6 deficiency can result in a variety of signs and symptoms, such as (1,2): 

  • Cognitive issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Itchy skin rashes
  • Inflammation around the mouth -especially at the corners
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Seizures

A condition to test for if you suspect low B6 levels is a condition called Pyroluria. Pyroluria is one cause of Vitamin B6 deficiency. Another cause is simply not getting enough through diet. Food sources include: poultry, fish, organ meats, potatoes, grains, legumes, and non-citrus fruits. (1)

Other conditions that may lead to low Vitamin B6 include chronic alcoholism, obesity, low protein intake, pregnancy, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, and autoimmune conditions. Certain drugs may also block absorption. (1)

Generally, if you’re deficient in Vitamin B6, you’ll also be deficient in folate and Vitamin B12. (1)

Vitamin B6 Excess

Although rare, vitamin B6 can also be taken in excess from supplementation. Taking too much Vitamin B6 can result in:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Movement disorders
  • Neuropathy (decreased ability to feel touch, temperature, and vibration)
  • Sensitivity to sunlight

But this is from taking B6 in amounts over 100mg/dl. It’s dose-dependent, so taking higher amounts leads to worse symptoms. (1)

Testing Niacin and Vitamin B6 Levels

If you’re interested in testing these two nutrients, Vitamin B6 is usually tested using a blood test. Niacin, on the other hand, needs to be tested indirectly.

Integrative practitioners use something called an Organic Acids Test. This test includes markers of vitamin and mineral levels, showing you which ones you may need to focus on in your diet. It can also help you know wether or not to supplement. The OAT is a home urine test, you so can complete the OAT test from the comfort of your home.

Dr. Goldman offers lab testing for Niacin and Vitamin B6. Click here to order a lab test.

References
Brown MJ, Ameer MA, Beier K. Vitamin B6 Deficiency. [Updated 2021 Feb 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470579/
Brown MJ, Ameer MA, Beier K. Vitamin B6 Deficiency. [Updated 2021 Feb 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470579/

Dr. Laurie Goldman is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and functional medicine practitioner who’s been in private practice since 1999. She founded Clear Path Wellness to help her patients reach their maximum state of mental and physical health using a personalized, comprehensive approach powered by the principles of functional medicine, which treats the whole person, not just symptoms.   

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B Vitamins Vitamin B6 What You Need To Know