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Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Documented Vitamin B6 deficiency
+3 (Strong Evidence)


  • Pyridoxine is found in a great many different kinds of foods, including whole grains, legumes, vegetables (carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes), milk, cheese, eggs, fish, liver, meats. Its active form is called pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
  • The primary role of vitamin B6 is to act as a catalyst for enzymes involved in cell metabolism. It plays a role in synthesis of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, hemoglobin; and in the formation of myelin, a protective, oil-rich sheath around many nerves.
  • Pyridoxine supports the immune system by helping to produce antibodies and T cells. It is required for metabolism of all three kinds of major nutrients: amino acids (protein), carbohydrates, and lipids.
  • Because B6 use is widespread in cells throughout the body, deficiencies affect many organ systems, including nerves, skin, mucous membranes and circulation. Especially in children, the developing brain may be affected as well. While deficiencies are unusual, the elderly and patients with renal failure, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease or alcoholism are at increased risk.
  • Pyridoxine deficiencies are also more likely to develop in patients on certain medications, notably cycloserine, penicillamine and, to a lesser extent, hydralazine and isoniazid. These medications constitute an indication for taking a pyridoxine supplement and having levels monitored.


  • Adverse effects have never been seen with food sources, but vitamin B6 overdose is possible with supplements. Overdose may cause seemingly unrelated symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, skin discomfort, allergic reactions, breast soreness, and even light sensitivity. Leg numbness and impairment of position and vibration sense can occur. Despite being water-soluble, with excess vitamin being excreted in the urine, high-dose vitamin B6 supplementation over extended periods can cause pain and numbness. Symptoms are usually reversible with discontinuation of the supplement, the earlier the better.
  • Intravenous vitamin B6, folic acid (B9) and vitamin B12, followed by large doses of the oral form, may increase failure rates after stenting of blocked coronary arteries, so supplementation with these vitamins is not recommended following coronary artery stenting.

DOSAGE: Recommended daily doses depend on gender, age, and pregnancy or nursing status:

  • Males 19-50 years: 1.3 mg; over 50 years: 1.7 mg.
  • Females 19-50 years: 1.3 – 1.7 mg; over 50 years: 1.5 mg.
  • During pregnancy: 1.9 mg; during nursing: 2 mg.

CONCLUSION: If you elect to try Pyridoxine, remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.

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