B6 Vitamin Food Sources:

Vitamin B6 for a Healthy Body

By Dr. Ben Kim

Vitamin B6 is commonly referred to as pyridoxine. It is a water-soluble B vitamin that comes in six different forms. The most active form in your body is called PLP, short for pyridoxal 5'-phosphate. The biological features of vitamin B6 described in this article refer mainly to PLP.

What Does Vitamin B6 Do in Your Body?

  • Reduces homocysteine levels, which lowers your risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, and many degenerative diseases.
  • Helps to form serotonin and other chemicals that are essential to the health of your nervous system.
  • Helps to produce vitamin B3, also known as niacin.
  • Helps to form hemoglobin, a key component of your red blood cells.
  • Helps to dampen the effects of steriod hormones like estrogen and testosterone in your body, which can potentially decrease your risk of sex hormone-sensitive cancers like breast and prostate cancers.

Here are some healthy, whole food sources of vitamin B6:

Whole FoodsServingVitamin B6 (mg)
Potato, baked, with skin1 medium0.70
Banana1 medium0.68
Salmon3 ounces0.48
Chicken, light meat without skin3 ounces0.46
Spinach, cooked1 cup0.44
Avocado1/2 medium0.42
Turkey, without skin3 ounces0.39
Hamburger3 ounces0.39
Fish3 ounces0.29
Collard Greens1/2 cup0.17
Brown Rice1/2 cup0.13
Green Peas1/2 cup0.11

An excellent whole food supplement source of vitamin B6 is Dr. Kim's Greens.

Signs of Deficiency

  • Depression and/or Nervousness
  • Tingling hands
  • Inflammation of tongue
  • Sores in and around the mouth
  • Cracks or ulcers of the skin at the corners of the mouth

Consuming alcohol on a regular basis increases your risk of vitamin B6 deficiency.

The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need, since vitamin B6 is necessary for a number of steps in the metabolism of amino acids that make up protein. Keep this point in mind in considering the following chart of recommended daily allowances:

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin B6 - 1998

Life Stage  AgeMales (mg/day) Females (mg/day) 
Infants0-6 months0.10.1
Infants7-12 months0.30.3
Children1-3 years0.50.5
Children4-8 years0.60.6
Children9-13 years1.01.0
Adolescents 14-18 years1.31.2
Adults19-50 years1.31.3
Adults51 years and older1.71.5
Pregnancyall ages-1.9
Breastfeedingall ages-2.0

Because vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that does not get stored in your fat tissues, there is little chance that you can consume toxic levels of vitamin B6 from whole foods. It is, however, possible to consume toxic levels of B6 in supplement form. I believe that you should completely stay away from synthetic supplements that contain B6.

Diagnostic Test for Vitamin B6
As of February 23, 2005, I do not know of a reliable diagnostic test to assess your vitamin B6 status.

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