Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine - The 'Versatile' Vitamin

Vitamin B6 is a white, crystalline substance. It is soluble in water and alcohol. Long storage, canning, roasting or stewing of meat, food-processing techniques, use of alcohol, and oestrogen are destructive to this vitamin.

Vitamin B6 is absorbed mainly in the jejunum. However it is also absorbed in the ileum of the small intestine by passive diffussion. Absorption in the colon is very slight. Although the bacteria in the colon do synthesise vitamin B6, it is not absorbed to any significant extent. Small quantities of this vitamin are stored in the body. The vitamin is widely distributed in various tissues and excreted mainly from the kidneys. Small quantities of the vitamin are excreted in the faeces and in sweat.

Recommended Daily Allowance - Vitamin B6

Men 2.0 mg
Women 2.0 mg
Children 1.7 mg
Infants 0.1-0.4 mg

Vitamin B6 Benefits - Functions in the body

Pyridoxine or vitamin B6 aids in food assimilation and protein and fat metabolism, especially in the metabolism of essential fatty acids. It activates many enzymes and enzyme systems. It is involved in the production of antibodies which protect against bacterial diseases. Pyridoxine helps in the healthy functioning of the nervous system and brain. It is essential for the normal reproductive process and healthy pregnancies.

This vitamin prevents nervous and skin disorders, provides protection against a high cholesterol level, certain types of heart disease, and diabetes. It prevents tooth decay. Vitamin B6 regulates the balance between sodium and potassium in the body, which is vitally important for normal body functions. It is also required for absorption of vitamin B12 and for the production of hydrochloric acid and magnesium.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency Symptoms

Deficiency of vitamin B6 may cause anaemia, oedema, mental depression, and skin disorders. Cracking at the corner of the lips, halitosis (foul smell in the mouth), nervousness, eczema, kidney stones, inflammation of the colon, damage to the pancreas, insomnia, tooth decay, and irritability may also result due to deficiency of vitamin B6. Inadequate intake of the vitamin may also lead to loss of muscular control, migraine headaches, diseases of old age, and premature senility.

Vitamin B6 Rich Food Sources

Yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, soya beans, and walnuts are the richest sources of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) among plant foods. Lentils, lima beans, and other vegetables provide fair amounts. Raw foods contain more of this vitamin than cooked foods.

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