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1938: Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)


Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine, is part of the vitamin B complex group.  Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in the function of over 100 enzymes that catalyze essential chemical reactions in the human body.  It is essential for biological processes such as hemoglobin and amino acid biosynthesis, fatty acid metabolism, and maintaining healthy blood glucose levels (provided they were healthy to begin with).

It was isolated in 1938 by Samuel Lepkovsky.

Vitamin B6 is an essential water-soluble B vitamin. It exists in plants and animals in several forms (called vitamers) that are interchangeable and comparably active. The form typically provided in vitamin supplements is pyridoxine hydrochloride (or pyridoxine HCl).

Like all true vitamins, B6 functions as a coenzyme, meaning that it works in tandem with one or more enzymes to catalyze metabolic reactions in cells. Vitamin B6 serves as a cofactor for over 100 enzymes in the human body, many of which are involved in amino acid metabolism. Specific enzymatic reactions in which vitamin B6 plays a role include the transamination, decarboxylation, cleavage, racemization, and synthesis of amino acids.

Because these reactions are central to the function of all cells, vitamin B6 ultimately plays a key role in general human metabolism and health. Primary processes mediated by vitamin B6 include the generation of glucose from glycogen, the synthesis of niacin (vitamin B3), lipid metabolism, nervous system function, hormone modulation, and immune function.

Vitamin B6 also affects nervous system function, largely through its role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin, taurine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It also appears to be involved in the development of myelin sheaths.

Given its central role in amino acid metabolism, vitamin B6 is important in regulating homocysteine levels in blood, which in turn constitutes an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are also involved in the regulation of homocysteine.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), niacin, and zinc are required for vitamin B6 activation and metabolism.

The best food sources of vitamin B6 include whole grain cereals, poultry and other meat, nuts, and seeds. Fruits and vegetables are not generally good sources with the exception of potatoes, bananas, and avocados.

Unlike other water-soluble vitamins, a chronic intake (exceeding 200 mg/d) of vitamin B6 has been associated with adverse effects, including neurological toxicity.

Info above was provided by USANA - The Cellular Nutrition Company, Ask The Scientist department.

Role in Health Support

Production of Red Blood Cells
Hemoglobin is complicated protein present in red blood cells, and one of its primary roles is to help carry oxygen around the body. Heme is a key section of the hemoglobin molecule and the initial production of heme in bodies requires the presence of vitamin B6. (Although heme production can occur in multiple places throughout the body, the primary places involve the liver and bone marrow.) The importance of vitamin B6 in red blood cell production is underscored by relatively rare types of anemia called sideroblastic anemias.

Kids with chronic diseases — such as cancer or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection — often develop anemia as a complication of their illness. Anemia due to kidney disease. The kidneys produceerythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates production of red cells in the bone marrow.


Metabolism of Carbohydrates
Vitamin B6 is involved at several steps in the metabolism of carbohydrates. In particular, the enzyme that pulls carbohydrates out of storage in the cell (in the form of a molecule called glycogen) requires vitamin B6 for its activity.

While nobody would do an experiment like this in humans, researchers have been able to induce problems in carbohydrate metabolism by feeding rats diets deficient in vitamin B6. Since breakdown of carbohydrates is an ongoing process that occurs in our bodies throughout the day to help us sustain our physical energy level, daily consumption of whole foods rich in B6 also makes good sense for maintaining ongoing energy levels.

GLYCOGEN STORAGE DISEASES
Glycogen storage diseases occur when there is a defect in the enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of glycogen, resulting in growth abnormalities, weakness, and confusion.
Glycogen storage diseases are caused by lack of an enzyme needed to change glucose into glycogen and break down glycogen into glucose.
Typical symptoms include weakness, sweating, confusion, kidney stones, and stunted growth.
The diagnosis is made by examining a piece of tissue under a microscope (biopsy).
Treatment depends on the type of glycogen storage disease and usually involves regulating the intake of carbohydrates.


Brain and Nervous System Health
Vitamin B6 is one of several B vitamins required for proper production of messaging molecules in our nervous system and brain (called neurotransmitters). Three key neurotransmitters—namely GABA, dopamine, and serotonin—all require vitamin B6 for synthesis.

Just as an example of how important this nutrient can be to proper brain and nervous system, function, there is a condition called pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy where a genetic mutation interferes with normal vitamin B6 function. In people who have this mutation, the brain does not develop properly and epileptic seizures are experienced beginning in infancy. Luckily, this condition is rare.

However, we may be at risk of other more common problems that can be brain and nervous-system related if our B6 intake is poor. Depression is a good example in this area. Researchers in Japan have found that the risk of depressed mood is higher in people with lower levels of vitamin B6 in their diet (in comparision with the general population). Another research group concluded that this link between risk of depression and B6 intake becomes even stronger when dietary folic acid—a nutrient that works very closely with vitamin B6 in brain and nervous system chemistry—is deficient as well. Recent research has also begun to indicate a link between B6 deficiency and risk of development for attention deficit disorder (ADHD). So once again, we are looking at the possible widespread importance of B6 for brain and nervous system support.

Short video to understand the Brain


Liver Detoxification
Generally speaking, we remove unwanted chemicals from our blood in the liver and kidney, and this process involves two steps. The first of these two steps is to make the chemicals more water soluble to allow for the second step of binding and removal. The number of nutrients required for this first step is long, but vitamin B6 is clearly one of the most important. It is so important that researchers can induce liver dysfunction in animals by feeding them a pyridoxine-depleted diet.

The above content was provided by WHFoods.com 

Foods with high Vitamin B6 Content:

6-12-1

6-12-2

6-12-3

6-12-4

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