The Benefits of Vitamin B6

A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause health problems such as anemia and skin disorders. Why is this vitamin so important? What are its benefits? In this article, we'll tell you all about it!
The Benefits of Vitamin B6

Last update: 27 November, 2020

Vitamin B6 belongs to the group of water-soluble vitamins. Therefore, it’s a vitamin that dissolves in water and can’t be stored in the body. The body excretes excess B6 through the urine and you must consume it regularly through your diet.

You can find it naturally in meat and fish. Furthermore, starchy foods, such as potatoes and certain fruits, also contain it. However, it’s a vitamin that’s included in dietary supplements in the form of pyridoxine.

A deficiency of this vitamin causes anemia, itchy rashes, scaly lips, cracks in the corners of the mouth, and tongue swelling. In addition, its deficit may be related to depression, confusion, and immune system malfunction.

The bodily functions of vitamin B6

Vitamin supplements.
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the prevention of diseases. Also, it’s crucial to protect cognitive health.

Enough evidence supports the fact that the consumption of this vitamin, within the recommended doses, causes positive effects in the body. Below, we’ll talk about the most important benefits:

  • B vitamins can lower the risk of heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels. However, supplementation with this vitamin doesn’t reduce the risk of disease if the dietary intake is correct, according to recent studies.
  • On the other hand, people with low B6 levels may be at an increased risk of certain cancers related to the digestive tract. An example is colorectal cancer, as a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology states.
  • Also, it’s been shown that individuals with healthy blood B6 levels have better memories. However, supplementation doesn’t seem effective to improve cognitive function in patients with dementia.
  • Also, experts speculate that there’s a possible influence of vitamin B6 in premenstrual syndrome. Some articles suggest that supplementation with this vitamin may reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, thus reducing mood swings, irritability, and lack of concentration.
  • Consuming this vitamin under medical supervision is recommended to reduce nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.

You should also read: Avitaminosis: The Lack of Vitamins

Vitamin B6 overdose

Overall, it’s very unlikely that a vitamin B6 overdose would lead to intoxication. Since it’s water-soluble and excreted in the urine, it’s difficult for it to reach high concentrations in the body in the absence of dietary supplements. However, uncontrolled supplementation could indeed lead to this situation.

This is a major health problem, which can damage the nervous system, making it difficult to control body movements. Moreover, it may also cause skin reactions, hypersensitivity to sunlight, nausea, and heartburn. Therefore, it’s very important to only take this supplement under the supervision of a medical professional. 

Drug interactions

Supplements that contain this vitamin may interact with certain drugs:

  • Some antibiotics, such as cycloserine, that are used to treat tuberculosis. This interaction can worsen seizures and damage nerve cells.
  • Drugs designed to treat epilepsy can lower the levels of this vitamin.
  • The ingestion of theophylline to treat asthma may also reduce B6 levels and cause seizures.

Bodily vitamin B6 needs

Some sources of vitamin B6.
You can get the vitamin B6 your body needs with a healthy, balanced diet. However, in some cases, it’s advisable to resort to supplementation.

Leaving aside the WHO recommendations for vitamin B6 intake in normal situations, an excess demand may occur in some cases. For example, this may happen in people who follow high protein diets, as this vitamin plays a role in protein breakdown. Moreover, it may be important to consume more of it in situations where you suffer from an uncontrolled glucose curve. Finally, it’s necessary to monitor the intake of this micronutrient in the case of anemia.

However, it’s noteworthy that recent studies on this vitamin call into question its antioxidant role and its relation with complex diseases. Currently, experts believe that both a deficit and excess of this vitamin can have negative consequences. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to confirm this.


Vitamin B6 has different functions in the body. Under normal conditions, you can get the amount you need through your diet. However, there may be instances where supplementation is necessary to correct a deficit or prevent disease.

Nevertheless, it’s important not to abuse multivitamins. Thus, you should consult your doctor or nutritionist before consuming one. In case you experience any side effects, such as nausea, experts recommend suspending the intake of the product.

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  • Bird RP., The emerging role of vitamin B6 in inflammation and carcinogénesis. Adv Food Nutr Res, 2018. 83: 151-194.
  • Zhang XH, Ma J, Smith-Warner SA, Lee JE, Giovannucci E. Vitamin B6 and colorectal cancer: current evidence and future directions. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(7):1005–1010. doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i7.1005