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B-6 Vitamin Benefits

By Kristeen Cherney

Vitamin B-6 contains six compounds that work with the liver to provide your body with essential functions. Also called pyridoxine, this nutrient is just one of the B vitamins responsible for healthy metabolism and protection from diseases. Since this is an essential nutrient, it’s helpful to know that many everyday foods are considered rich sources of vitamin B-6.

Abundant Sources

Vitamin B-6 is available in a number of foods. Among the highest sources are bran flakes, whole grains, beef, white meat poultry, ham and garbanzo beans. Other sources include bananas, potatoes, halibut, herring, dark meat poultry, black beans and watermelon. Given the wide variety of sources, vitamin B6 is relatively easy to incorporate into your diet. However, rare cases of deficiency can still occur. Lack of vitamin B-6-rich foods, alcohol abuse and medications, such as birth control pills, are among a few of the causes.

Protein and Fat Metabolism

Pyridoxine works with the liver to create enzymes that function in protein and fat metabolism. Without vitamin B6, your body cannot create nonessential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, on its own, which means you would have to retrieve them all through food. Furthermore, pyridoxine helps retrieve glucose out of amino acids. Vitamin B6 also metabolizes fat lipids within the liver.

Blood Cell Support

Healthy blood cells rely on numerous processes, including the foods you eat. Vitamin B-6 helps this function by synthesizing hemoglobin in red blood cells to support oxygen production and transport. Blood oxygen transport not only helps every organ function properly, but it also helps maintain your energy levels.

Possible Long-term Disease Prevention

A balanced diet with foods containing vitamin B-6 can help prevent diseases associated with long-term deficiency, including anemia from changes in red blood cell formation, liver disease, Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Vitamin B-6 deficiency can also increase homocysteine amino acid levels, which may increase your risk for heart disease.

Recommended Daily Amounts

“Discovering Nutrition” recommends that adults between 19 and 50 ingest 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B-6 every day. Older adults require slightly more of the vitamin to support changes associated with natural aging. Women over 50 should take 1.5 milligrams, while men of the same age need 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B-6. If your doctor suspects a deficiency of the vitamin, changing your food choices may help.

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