Although there are eight different B vitamins, some get more attention than others. And while vitamin B12 is often spotlighted for its role in keeping blood and nerve cells healthy, vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, tends to fly under the radar.
Like most of the B vitamins, B6 is essential, which means your body can’t synthesize it — you have to get this vital micronutrient from your diet. Are you getting all that your body needs? That’s worth asking, particularly if you’re eating less of certain foods for health or environmental reasons.
What B6 does in your body
Vitamin B6 plays a role in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body. It helps your body break down protein, carbohydrates, and fats that build muscle, supply energy, and fulfill a multitude of essential tasks. Vitamin B6 also helps
- keep your immune system working well
- create important brain-signaling chemicals (neurotransmitters), including serotonin and dopamine
- make hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cells.
A B6 deficiency issue?
A recent study found that nearly 13% of Americans may be deficient in vitamin B6, based on blood levels of the biologically active form of the vitamin (pyridoxal 5-phosphate). Researchers noted that death rates may be somewhat higher for people with insufficient or deficient B6 levels. However, it’s important to put these findings in context.
“These are likely to be people who have low-quality diets overall, so it is difficult to conclude that inadequate vitamin B6 is to blame,” says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Advice for getting enough vitamin B6
Although fish, dairy, and poultry are among the richest sources of B6, this vitamin is also found in beans, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables. So if you eat a high-quality diet that includes fresh, unprocessed foods, you’re probably getting an adequate amount of vitamin B6, says Dr. Willett.
But increasingly, some people have begun cutting back on meat, dairy, and fish for health or environmental reasons. “If they don’t replace those lost calories with healthy, plant-based protein such as legumes and nuts, they might be at risk for inadequate vitamin B6 levels,” says Dr. Willett.
Taking a standard, inexpensive multivitamin/multimineral supplement is one way to be sure you’re getting an adequate amount of vitamin B6, along with adequate amounts of other B vitamins. “Of course, a supplement is not meant to replace a healthy diet, which also provides many health-promoting substances known as phytochemicals not found in pills,” he adds.
|Good sources of vitamin B6 For vitamin B6, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults ages 19-50 is 1.3 mg per day. For those 51 and older, the RDA is 1.7 mg for men and 1.5 mg for women.|
|Food||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Chickpeas, canned, 1 cup||1.1|
|Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces||0.6|
|Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces||0.5|
|Potatoes, boiled, 1 cup||0.4|
|Banana, 1 medium||0.4|
|Marinara (spaghetti) sauce, 1 cup||0.4|
|Cottage cheese, 1% fat, 1 cup||0.2|
|Bulgur, cooked, 1 cup||0.2|
|Winter squash, baked, 1/2 cup||0.2|
|Nuts, mixed, dry roasted, 1 ounce||0.1|
|Spinach, frozen, chopped, boiled, 1/2 cup||0.1|
|Watermelon, 1 cup||0.1|
|Source: NIH Office of Dietary Supplements|
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
2 Corinthians 13:9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.
Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.
2 Corinthians 10:15-16 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Ephesians 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more
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