Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 7 Health Benefits, Foods, & Daily Dose

Updated in September 2023

Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is a micronutrient that participates in several bodily functions. It is important for many metabolic reactions, mainly those related to amino acids and enzymes, which are proteins that help to regulate the body's chemical processes.

Vitamin B6 also regulates the development and functioning of the nervous system. It helps to protect neurons and is necessary for producing neurotransmitters, which are important substances that transmit information between neurons.

Vitamin B6 is present in many foods, like bananas, fish or chicken, but it is also naturally produced in the gut. This vitamin is also available in supplement form, which can be taken as prescribed by a doctor or registered dietitian to correct deficiencies. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 2

Health benefits

Vitamin B6 can provide many health benefits, such as:

1. Boosting energy levels

Vitamin B6 acts as a coenzyme in several metabolic reactions in the body. It helps to increase energy levels by facilitating the metabolism of amino acids, fats and proteins. This vitamin is also essential for the production of neurotransmitters, which are substances that are important for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

2. Relieving PMS symptoms

Some studies suggest that taking vitamin B6 can reduce the occurrence and severity of PMS symptoms, like changes in body temperature, irritability, decreased concentration and anxiety.

PMS is often triggered by the interaction of hormones produced by the ovaries with brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and GABA. Vitamin B6 participates in the metabolism of neurotransmitters and is therefore considered a coenzyme that aids in the production of serotonin. However, more studies are needed to further understand the possible benefits of vitamin B6 consumption for managing PMS.

3. Reducing depression and anxiety

Because vitamin B6 is related to neurotransmitter production, (e.g. for serotonin), some studies show that taking this vitamin may reduce the risk for depression and anxiety.

Other studies also suggest that a deficiency in B-vitamins may lead to higher levels of homocysteine. This is a substance that may increase the risk of depression and dementia.

4. Preventing cardiac disease

Some studies show that consuming some B-vitamins, like vitamin B6, can reduce the risk of heart disease. These vitamins can reduces inflammation and homocysteine levels, as well as inhibit the production of free radicals.

Other studies indicate that a deficiency in vitamin B6 can lead to hyperhomocysteinemia, which can lead to arterial damage. Therefore, optimal vitamin B6 levels may be essential for reducing homocysteine levels in the body, and decreasing the risk for cardiac disease.

However, more studies are needed to confirm this association between vitamin B6 and the risk for cardiovascular disease.

5. Boosting the immune system

Vitamin B6 is also necessary for regulating the immune system's response to various diseases, including inflammation and various types of cancer. This vitamin is able to mediate immune system signals and increase the body's natural defenses.

6. Improving nausea during pregnancy

Consuming vitamin B6 during pregnancy can help to improve nausea, morning sickness, and vomiting.  Pregnant women should aim to include foods that are rich in vitamin B6 into their daily diet.

7. Relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Consuming vitamin B6 can help to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, as this vitamin acts as a mediator during the body's inflammatory response.

How to consume

Vitamin B6 can be consumed through animal or plant sources of food. Vitamin B6 supplements may also be recommended to complement the treatment of some health conditions, such as kidney disease, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis.

Food with vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can be easily found in animal sources of food, such as chicken, eggs, fish and turkey. This vitamin is also present in plant-based sources of food, such as bananas, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.

When to take supplements

Vitamin B6 supplements are generally indicated for confirmed cases of vitamin B6 deficiency , which can occur due to malnutrition. Supplementation may also be recommended for conditions that inherently require increased levels of this vitamin, such as pregnancy, celiac disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

It is important to highlight that vitamin B6 supplements should only be used under the direction of a doctor or registered dietitian, as high levels of this supplement can be toxic.

Recommended dose

The daily recommended dose of vitamin B6 varies depending on the age and sex of the patient. Recommende doses are outlined in the table below: 


Recommended daily dose of vitamin B6

0 to 6 months

0.1 mg

7 to 12 months

0.3 mg

1 to 3 years

0.5 mg

4 to 8 years

0.6 mg

9 to 13 years

1 mg

Men between 14 and 50 years

1.3 mg

Men over 51 years of age

1.7 mg

Girls between 14 and 18 years

1.2 mg

Women between 19 and 50 years

1.3 mg

Women over 51 years of age

1.5 mg

Pregnant women

1.9 mg

Breastfeeding women

2.0 mg

A healthy and varied diet will provide you with adequate amounts of vitamin B6, and will lead to optimal functioning of the body. Supplementation is only indicated in cases of deficiency or for certain health conditions. 

Vitamin B6 deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency can arise in conditions in which the body requires an increased need for this vitamin. This can occur with pregnancy, kidney disease, alcoholism and use of oral contraceptives. A vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss and drowsiness. 

Vitamin B6 deficiency can also occur with conditions that are associated with reduced micronutrient absorption, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Excess vitamin B6

Excess vitamin B6 generally occurs due to prolonged use of supplements with dosages above 500 mg per day. High levels can lead to symptoms like weakness, loss of control of body movements, numbness in the feet and hands, nausea and sensitivity to sunlight.