Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) is important for normal brain development and for keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy.
The body's ability to utilize proteins, fats, and sugars requires vitamin B6. Additionally, it's essential for the growth of the skin, nerves, brain, and numerous other body organs. It is a component of vitamin B complex products and is present in cereals, legumes, and eggs along with other B vitamins.
People with kidney disease or conditions that prevent nutrients from being absorbed by the small intestine (malabsorption syndromes) are more likely to be vitamin B-6 deficient. Vitamin B-6 deficiency can also be caused by autoimmune disorders, certain epilepsy medications, and alcoholism. This can result in anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body's tissues), confusion, depression, and a weakened immune system.
Foods from both plants and animals contain vitamin B6
- Beef liver
- Fortified cereals
- Some vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, bananas, papayas, oranges, and cantaloupe
Signs of vitamin B deficiency
A vitamin B6 deficiency most often occurs when other B vitamins in the body are low, particularly vitamin B12 and folic acid. A mild deficiency may not show any symptoms, but a more serious or protracted deficiency may show the following signs and symptoms.
- Microcytic anemia
- Skin conditions
- Lowered immunity
Certain conditions can increase the risk of developing a deficiency by interfering with the absorption of vitamin B6
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune intestinal disorders like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
- Autoimmune inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis