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Vitamin B-6 A Forgotten Nutrient

Aug 17, 2007
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a widely overlooked vitamin, but it is involved in more bodily functions than almost any other single nutrient. It is important for both physical and mental health. It is beneficial if you suffer from water retention and necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid and the absorption of fats and protein. Pyridoxine also aids the body's balancing of sodium and potassium, and it is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and thus required for the formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin B6 is required by the nervous system and is required for normal brain function and the synthesis of RNA and DNA which contain the genetic code for reproduction of all cells and for normal cellular growth. Pyridoxine activates many enzymes and aids in the absorption of vitamin B12, immune system function, and antibody production.

Vitamin B6 play a role in cancer immunity and helps in the prevention of arteriosclerosis. It inhibits the formation of a toxic chemical called homocysteine, which attacks the heart muscle and allows the deposition of cholesterol around heart muscle and in the veins and arteries. Pyridoxine acts as a mild diuretic thereby reducing the symptoms of PMS. Increased intake of this vitamin decreases the concentration of urinary oxalate reduces the risk for kidney damage from oxalate kidney stones. It is useful in the treatment of allergies, arthritis and asthma.

Vitamin B6 deficiency can result in anemia, convulsions, headaches, nausea, flaky skin, a sore tongue and vomiting. Other signs of deficiency can include acne, anorexia, arthritis, conjunctivitis, cracks or sores on the mouth and lips, depression, dizziness, fatigue, hyper-irritability, impaired wound healing, inflammation of the mouth and gums, learning difficulties, impaired memory or memory loss, hair loss, hearing problems, numbness, oily facial skin, stunted growth, and tingling sensations.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has also been strongly linked to a deficiency of vitamin B6. People with long-term low intake of this B vitamin are more likely to develop CTS. Often the symptoms of CTS are relieved or reduced with vitamin B6 supplementation. In some cases, supplementation eliminates the disorder and surgery is not needed.

All foods contain some vitamin B6, but the highest amounts can be found in the following foods: brewer's yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ. Other sources include: avocado, bananas, beans, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, brown rice and whole grains, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, dulse, plantains, potatoes, rice bran, soybeans, and tempeh.

In the American diet, substantial amounts of vitamin B6 are lost because of the processing of grains and other foods. The milling of white flour removes almost all of this vitamin and B6 is not one of the four nutrients added back when refined foods are "enriched."

Unfortunately, the typical American also chooses an "unbalanced" diet of extremes -- too much total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, sugar and salt and not enough complex carbohydrates, fiber, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. On any given day, 46% of Americans do not consume even one fruit. One of the alarming findings of the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II) is that four out of five people do not consume adequate amounts of vitamin B6.

If you choose to supplement your intake of this B vitamin, give your body the best. Choose only a reputable source. Lower priced supplements can mean lower quality, with higher levels of fillers and other undesired ingredients. Nutritionist recommend a daily dosage of 50 - 100 mg. of vitamin B6 for adults and children weighing 100 pounds or more. Dosage for a child weighing between 70 and 100 pounds is 35 -75 mg. A child over age six and weighing under 70 pounds should be given half the adult dose. Children under six should receive only a formula designed specifically for young children.

People taking antidepressants, estrogen therapy, and oral contraceptives may have an increased need for vitamin B6. Diuretics and cortisone drugs block the body's absorption of pyridoxine. Megadoses of vitamin B6 are unnecessary. Prolonged use and high doses (over 1,000 mg. per day) can be toxic, and may result in nerve damage and loss of coordination.
About the Author
Tom Nuckels is health article author and owner of the LpVitamins.com website. His customers range from children to the elderly and from carpenters to doctors. You can find more health articles when you visit http://www.lpvitamins.com.
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