Vitamin B6 Benefits: More Essential Than You Might Think


Vitamin B6 offers a wide range of benefits intertwined with many bodily functions. You may be surprised to learn that vitamin B6 benefits range from heart and blood health to brain and immune function. It also plays a role in our metabolism and even aids in nausea symptoms. Throughout this article, we will take a deep dive into the many vitamin B6 benefits. Look out for some of our favorite supplements, as well!

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin. That means the vitamin can't be stored in fat cells like fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, and K). Instead, any unused vitamin will be excreted in the urine. It's also known as a coenzyme, or enzyme helper. Enzymes in the body require vitamin B6 to carry out more than 150 chemical reactions that occur throughout various systems.(1) Because B6 is not produced in the body, we need to consume it through food and supplements.

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Benefits of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a vital molecule and is touted as one of the vitamins with the most diverse benefits backed by research. Let's take a look at the top 8 benefits:

  1. Immune Function. Vitamin B6 is essential for immune function as it appears to improve white blood cell production and creates interleukin-2, an important protein made by T-cells.(2) Supplementation of 50-100mg of B6 daily has increased the immune response in critically ill individuals.(3) More research is needed to offer blanket recommendations for immune health at this time.
  2. Heart health. Low levels of vitamin B6 have been linked to poor cardiovascular health. (4, 5) This may be partially due to its lowering effect on circulating homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that has a strong association with cardiovascular disease when it's found in higher levels in the blood. Vitamin B6 has demonstrated its ability to bring down these levels of homocysteine.(6)
  3. Potential BMI reduction benefits. Because Vitamin B6 plays a role in the metabolism of carbs, protein, and fat, it's not surprising that it may also share a link with our body mass index (BMI). One study demonstrated the supplemental intake of vitamin B6 over a period of time improved BMI values and overall body composition.(7)
  4. Anti-cancer effects. Although more research is needed to solidify current findings, vitamin B6 plays a role in immune health and creates an anti-inflammatory response. This has produced anti-inflammatory molecules that can stop or slow cancer progression. There is evidence that the more vitamin B6 is consumed in the diet, the lower the cancer risk.(1)
  5. Powerful antioxidants. Its potent antioxidant effect is among the many other benefits of vitamin B6. Some believe it can rival carotenoids (vitamin A) and tocopherols (vitamin E). Only relatively recently was it discovered that vitamin B6 has a very efficient potential to capture and neutralize reactive oxygen species. It's thought that it may even hold anti-aging compounds.(8)
  6. Mental health support. In 2004, a study was released finding that low levels of vitamin B6 were associated with depression symptoms.(9) Since then, more research has been conducted with positive results. A very recent study determined that B6 supplementation actually improved symptoms of depression.(10) More research is coming out supporting B6 supplementation to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as well.(11)
  7. Potential diabetes treatment. There is a complicated and interconnected relationship between vitamin B6 and diabetes. The science community isn't exactly clear on all the details, but we do know that lower levels of vitamin B6 can bring on type two diabetes, predominantly because it can impair the release of insulin. Additionally, low levels of vitamin B6 may also increase complications associated with diabetes.(12) some preliminary research supports the idea that supplementation with this vitamin might actually improve diabetes status.(13)
  8. Nausea aid in pregnancy. As you probably know, nausea and vomiting are common side effects of pregnancy. Because vitamin B6 has shown promise in treating these symptoms, many physicians in the United States recommended it. It's very safe to take at reasonable doses, and therefore a likely recommendation at 40-60mg per day. Vitamin B6 is often combined with the antihistamine doxylamine for even better results.(14)

Vitamin B6 Sources

Some vitamins and minerals in foods can be difficult for the body to absorb. That's not the case with vitamin B6, however, as 75% of the vitamin in foods can be absorbed and made available for use in the body. Some common food sources of vitamin B6 include:(15)

  • Chickpeas
  • Beef liver
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Fortified cereals
  • White potatoes
  • Turkey
  • Bananas
  • Ground beef
  • Cottage cheese
  • White rice

A diverse diet can meet vitamin requirements. However, when in doubt, supplementation is a solid safeguard.

Vitamin B6 Supplements

Most research studies use supplements to conduct their experiments simply because the amounts tested are much higher than you'd get from dietary sources. The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1.3 milligrams for adults.(15) However, many studies require doses above 50-100 milligrams, significantly higher than the RDA.

Supplements are a great way to ensure you are meeting your needs. Vitamin B6 supplementation may interact with other medications, however, so be sure to speak with your physician before starting any new supplement.(16)

Some of our favorite B6 supplements:

Side Effects of Too Much Vitamin B6

Although the benefits of vitamin B6 are numerous, it is possible to overdo it. The United States has set the safe upper limit for B6 at 100mg per day, although many studies observe the effect of dosages higher than that. Some reports of toxicity within the 100 to 300 milligrams per day range have been reported. However, neuropathy, or the pain and tingling in extremities, has been observed with intakes of 1,000mg per day or more.(17)

Other symptoms of toxicity include sensitivity to light, nausea, heartburn, and painful skin eruptions. These symptoms are thought to gradually disappear over time once excessive B6 consumption stops.(16)

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6 deficiency is actually quite rare. Some are more at risk for the deficiency, such as those with kidney disease, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or a few specific genetic diseases. Certain drugs can also increase the risk of a deficiency when taken over time. When someone is deficient, they are also more likely to be deficient in other B vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and folic acid.(15)

As mentioned, vitamin B6 plays a vital role in immune function. When deficient, we see a decrease in immunity, such as decreased production of interleukin glycoproteins, which are responsible for regulating various immune responses. There is also some evidence that reduced vitamin B6 is linked to Type 2 diabetes and its complications.(1)

Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency include weakness, confusion, swelling of the tongue, cracks in the corners of the mouth, skin lesions, and others.

Summing It Up

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is in the B complex vitamin group. Its significance may be surprising because it plays a role in over 150 biochemical reactions in the human body. This important vitamin can be found in a wide range of food sources or orally supplemented. The benefits of vitamin B6 are numerous and profound.

Although somewhat rare, toxicity and deficiency are possible. For this reason, it's always a good idea to check with your healthcare professional before adding a vitamin B6 supplement to your regimen.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. Stach, K., Stach, W., & Augoff, K. (2021). Vitamin B6 in Health and Disease. Nutrients, 13(9).
  2. Kwak HK, Hansen CM, Leklem JE, Hardin K, Shultz TD. Improved vitamin B-6 status is positively related to lymphocyte proliferation in young women consuming a controlled diet. J Nutr. 2002 Nov;132(11):3308-13. doi: 10.1093/jn/132.11.3308. PMID: 12421844.
  3. Cheng CH, Chang SJ, Lee BJ, Lin KL, Huang YC. Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;60(10):1207-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602439. Epub 2006 May 3. PMID: 16670691.
  4. Minović, I., Kieneker, L. M., Gansevoort, R. T., Eggersdorfer, M., Touw, D. J., Voerman, J., Connelly, M. A., de Boer, R. A., Hak, E., Bos, J., Dullaart, P. F., Kema, I. P., & Bakker, J. L. (2020). Vitamin B6, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Outcome in a Population-Based Cohort: The Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) Study. Nutrients, 12(9).
  5. Lin PT, Cheng CH, Liaw YP, Lee BJ, Lee TW, Huang YC. Low pyridoxal 5'-phosphate is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease. Nutrition. 2006 Nov-Dec;22(11-12):1146-51. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2006.08.013. Epub 2006 Oct 10. PMID: 17045461.
  6. Wald, D. S., Law, M., & Morris, J. K. (2002). Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease: evidence on causality from a meta-analysis. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 325(7374), 1202.
  7. Haidari, F., Mohammadshahi, M., Zarei, M., Haghighizadeh, M. H., & Mirzaee, F. (2021). The Effect of Pyridoxine Hydrochloride Supplementation on Leptin, Adiponectin, Glycemic Indices, and Anthropometric Indices in Obese and Overweight Women. Clinical Nutrition Research, 10(3), 230-242.
  8. Hellmann, H., & Mooney, S. (2010). Vitamin B6: A Molecule for Human Health? Molecules, 15(1), 442-459.

About the Author

Bryee Shepard, MS, RD

Byree is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition. Bryee is fascinated by food science and biochemistry but also enjoys simple recipe creations as she loves breaking down evidence-based info into digestible guides.

See More from Bryee

Byree is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition. Bryee is fascinated by food science and biochemistry but also enjoys simple recipe creations as she loves breaking down evidence-based info into digestible guides.

See More from Bryee

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