Vitamin B6 & Iron

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Not getting enough vitamin B6 or iron in the diet can lead to anemia. Anemia occurs when there are not enough healthy red blood cells in the body. Vitamin-deficiency anemia occurs when folate, vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 levels are too low. Iron-deficiency anemia is caused by lack of iron in the body. Anemia caused by vitamin B6 or iron defiency can also be prevented by getting enough iron-rich and vitamin B6-rich foods in your diet.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, or a vitamin that dissolves in water. The body cannot store these vitamins, so you need a continuous supply. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce antibodies, proteins that fight disease. Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain normal nerve function.The body uses it to help break down proteins, so the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need. Vitamin B6 is found in nuts, beans, eggs, legumes, whole grains, fortified breads and cereals, meats and fish. Deficiency is not common in the United States, but it can lead to mouth and tongue sores, irritability, depression and confusion. Too much vitamin B6 can cause numbness and neurological disorders.


Iron is an essential mineral found in every body cell. It is needed to make red blood cells. The body requires iron to make the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is present in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscles. Iron is also found in proteins that store iron for future needs and that carry iron in the blood. Rich sources of iron include dried fruits, dried beans, eggs, liver, iron-fortified cereals, tuna, poultry, lean red meat, liver, oysters, salmon and whole grains. Iron is also found in vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements, but these forms are harder for the body to absorb. Too much iron is uncommon but can be caused by the genetic disorder hemochromatosis or by taking several supplements. Symptoms of iron poisoning include fatigue, anorexia, dizziness, headache, vomiting, weight loss, grayish skin and shortness of breath.


Anemia is detected when there is a below-normal level of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries from the lungs to other parts of the body. Because people with anemia don't get enough oxygen-rich blood, they may feel tired, fatigued or experience shortness of breath. There are several types of anemia. Anemia can be a temporary or chronic condition. Treatment for anemia depends on the type. Iron-deficiency anemia is treated with supplementation and vitamin-deficiency anemia is treated with injections.


In rats, vitamin B6 deficiency results in elevation in liver iron concentration and reduction in muscle iron concentration, according to a 2009 study published by Irene Mackraj and colleagues in the "Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology."

Pregnant women with anemia are often treated with iron supplements. They should also be evaluated for vitamin B6 deficiency, according to a 2010 study published by M. Hisano and colleagues in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition."


The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults ages 19 to 50 have 1.3mg of vitamin B6 per day. Adult females over age 50 should have 1.5mg per day. Adult males over age 50 should have 1.7mg per day.The Food and Nutrition Board recommends adult males consume 8mg of iron per day. Adult females ages 19 to 50 should have 18mg per day. Adult females over age 50 can have 8 mg per day.

Good sources of both vitamin B6 and iron include fortified cereals, rice bran, red peppers, chili peppers, shallots, pistachio nuts, leeks, potatoes, lima beans, liver and many spices.