When it comes to B vitamins, you’ve probably heard of B12which is important for preventing anemia and maintaining bone health, and B9 (also known as folic acid), which is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
but B6 is, in a way, the “forgotten vitamin”.Reem Malouf, a neurologist at the University of Oxford who has studied its effects on cognition. As with other B vitamins such as B12 and B9, B6 is an essential nutrient, but how it affects mental health is not fully understood by scientists and is less known than others.
That doesn’t make it any less important to body function, said Katherine Tucker, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Vitamin B6 participates in a range of chemical reactions that are important for nervous system and brain function, Including the synthesis of proteins, amino acids and chemical messengers in the brain as well as the proper functioning of the immune system.
B6 is an essential vitamin during pregnancy and postpartum: it can help ward off morning sickness, and it’s essential for fetal brain development. And vitamin B6 deficiency has been linked to several neuropsychiatric disorders, including seizures, migraines, anxiety, depression and memory loss.
“The effect of vitamin B6 on mental health is not a new concept,” said Jess Eastwood, a doctoral student in nutritional psychology at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. For example, in a study of nearly 500 college students published in July, Eastwood and colleagues found that those who took high doses of vitamin B6 (about 100 milligrams per day for a month) reported feeling less anxious than those taking a placebo. Their findings also suggested that B6 may play a role in reducing the increased brain activity that can accompany some mood disorders.
But the study sample size was small, and overall there hasn’t been much research on how B6, taken in supplement form or through diet, causes changes in mental health, Eastwood said. Findings from studies, including this one, are often limited and do not prove causality.
It may also be difficult to study what effect supplemental B6 has on mental health, if any, partly because It is difficult to measure how well vitamins are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Experts say probably not. For most healthy adults, the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.3 to 1.7 mg.
Like other essential vitaminsThe body isn’t able to produce B6 on its own, so you can only get it from food or supplements. However, most healthy adults get enough vitamin B6 from their diets, Tucker said. “It is widely available in whole foods,” he said, including tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, chickpeas, poultry, dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe and walnuts.
For example, a cup of canned chickpeas provides 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B6, while 85 grams of grilled chicken breast provides 0.5 milligrams.
Most dietary supplements also contain more than you need in a day. For example, this can be 20 to 200 times higher for some B6 supplements available in the market., Taking such high doses of B6 supplements probably won’t cause negative short-term side effectsBut the National Institutes of Health recommends that adults take no more than 100 milligrams per day, Tucker said. Ingesting more than that amount, about 1,000 mg or more each day over a long period of time can cause weakness, numbness and pain in the hands and feet, loss of muscle control, and nausea, although most symptoms resolve once you stop taking . Such a high dose.
Experts say that If you are concerned that you may not be getting enough vitamin B6 in your diet, you can ask your doctor to order a blood test. If you are borderline or mildly deficient, you may have only minor symptoms, or none, and no complications. but If the deficiency becomes severe or prolonged it can lead to serious conditions such as microcytic anemia, depression, confusion, fatigue and weakened immunity.which may disappear after B6 levels are restored.
Certain medications or lifestyle habits can also contribute to B6 deficiency. “The diabetes drug metformin, some high blood pressure drugs, and alcohol cause the body to deplete B6, so you retain less B6 than you need,” Tucker said. Heavy drinkers, smokers and those taking certain medications need to be more aware of their B6 levels., He added. People with kidney or malabsorption disorders, such as chronic kidney disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, can also suffer from a vitamin B6 deficiency.
It should also be noted that People who are deficient in B6 are also deficient in other B vitamins, Tucker said, so if supplementation is needed, it’s best to take a B-complex supplement, which usually contains all eight B vitamins in a single dose.
But if there’s no deficiency, Tucker said, a supplement probably isn’t needed.
“I always recommend that nutrition comes first,” Eastwood said. “If you feel overtired, you don’t feel quite right, and you know you’re not eating a lot of B6-rich foods,” it could indicate that you’re eating more B6-rich foods. There is a need to turn to substances.
by Hannah Seo