Can you guess which one it is?
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have thought of vitamin B6!?
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the body. The active form of B6 is pyridoxal 5’-phospate (PLP). vitamin B6 is often referred to as pyridoxine, that’s also what you’ll find most commonly in supplements but also foods.
Did you know that this vitamin is essential for your metabolism or breaking down of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you eat?
There are a whole lot of chemical reactions required to produce energy for your cells, and B vitamins are essential for that process! Vitamin B6, specifically, plays an important role in this cycle through its interactions with other nutrients. More specifically, vitamin B6 in the form of PLP is needed to convert tryptophan to niacin and producing NAD—a coenzyme that gets reduced to NADH and serves as a shuttle for electrons in the final step of the Krebs cycle, ultimately producing ATP = energy! Reduced PLP availability has shown to limit NAD production, so it hinders your energy production cycle!
Vitamin B6 or PLP is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, cellular function and supports many of your organs in their functioning. Your liver, for instance, needs vitamin B6 to assure phase I detox. Additionally, vitamin B6 is crucial for the immune system, maintaining healthy skin, and reducing inflammation in the body. It’s is also an important cofactor for absorption of minerals like magnesium.
Vitamin B6 also appears to be protective against late-life depression, especially after medical events like stroke. As a high-dose supplement, it’s even been used to treat morning sickness and PMS symptoms (including mood changes)!
Vitamin B6 and Hormone Health
There’s some evidence that vitamin B6 (in the form of Pyridoxal 5' phosphate (PLP) can impact hormone function, namely by influencing the activity of steroid receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and decreasing their effects on gene expression.
During perimenopause and menopause, women experience a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, which can lead to a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and depression. Vitamin B6 has been shown to help alleviate some of these symptoms by supporting healthy progesterone levels.
One of the ways vitamin B6 helps with progesterone production is by aiding in the conversion of the hormone precursor 5-alpha-pregnanedione to progesterone. Vitamin B6 is also involved in the synthesis of other hormones, including cortisol and serotonin, which can impact hormone balance and overall wellbeing.
Adequate vitamin B6 levels have been linked to a decreased risk of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and improved fertility.
Overall, vitamin B6 plays an important role in hormone balance and reproductive health, particularly in regards to progesterone production.
High doses of vitamin B6 have a therapeutic benefit for several conditions. Since the 1940s, vitamin B6 has been used to treat morning sickness in pregnancy, and controlled trials have confirmed that it’s effective at reducing nausea during early pregnancy.
Studies also indicate that supplemental vitamin B6 (at doses of up to 100 mg per day) can help reduce some symptoms of PMS, including mood changes.
One study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research found that women who took vitamin B6 supplements experienced a significant reduction in hot flashes and night sweats compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine found that vitamin B6 supplementation improved mood and reduced anxiety and depression in women going through menopause.
Vitamin B6 and Inflammation
Vitamin B6 plays a role in the production of cytokines, which are proteins that help regulate inflammation in the body.
Several studies have investigated the potential anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin B6. For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin B6 supplementation reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that vitamin B6 supplementation reduced markers of inflammation in overweight and obese adults.
However, not all studies have found a significant effect of vitamin B6 on inflammation. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin B6 supplementation had no significant effect on CRP levels in healthy adults.
What are some good sources of vitamin B6?
You can find vitamin B6 in a variety of foods, including fish, leafy greens, root vegetables, fruit such as bananas, avocados, legumes such as chickpeas, red meat, poultry, and seeds (especially sunflower and pumpkin).
In terms of supplements, it’s tricky to take B-Vitamins separately as they all interact with each other, so I always recommend a complex rather than taking just vitamin B6 for instance.
This B6 complex is a great product that has all B-Vitamins and an especially high dose of B6 as PLP.