08 July, 2011
Vitamin B-6 and Raynaud's Disease
Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition that can cause feelings of coldness or numbness in certain parts of your body, such as your fingers, nose, ears and toes. This is due to a narrowing of the small arteries that supply blood to the skin. Taking vitamin B-6 may help to alleviate the symptoms.
Although Raynaud’s phenomenon is often more of an annoyance than a disability, it is more complicated than merely having cold extremities. Symptoms vary considerably depending on how often the blood vessels narrow and the severity and duration of their spasms. Symptoms include a chill feeling or numbness in the fingers or toes and color changes in the skin in response to cold temperatures or stress. During a Raynaud’s attack, the skin will first turn white and then blue as the area becomes increasingly numb. As the temperature returns the skin will redden and may throb or swell slightly.
The cause of Raynaud’s is unknown, though it is thought that when suffers become cold or stressed, their blood vessels narrow more than those of non-sufferers, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. There are two forms of this condition: Primary Raynaud’s is more commonly found in people who inhabit cold climates. Secondary Raynaud’s has a number of risk factors including previous frostbite, cigarette smoking, using vibrating tools, carpel tunnel syndrome and conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to a study published in the May 2002 issue of the "Journal for Vascular Diseases," people who suffer from Raynaud’s disease often have higher levels of homocysteine than non-sufferers. Homocysteine is an amino acid produced in the body. It plays a key role in cardiovascular health and high levels can also lead to heart disease.
Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin that your body cannot make, so you must obtained it from your diet. B-6 helps the brain synthesize neurotransmitters, assists red blood cell formation and helps with hormone function. Along with folic acid and vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6 also helps regulate the amino acid homocysteine. This vitamin may, therefore, be useful for the treatment of Raynaud’s disease.
- MayoClinic.com; Raynaud's Disease; November, 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Raynaud's Disease; Symptoms; November, 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Reynaud's Phenomenon; Steven D. Ehrlich; March, 2010
- "Journal for Vascular Diseases"; Homocysteine levels in patients with Raynaud's phenomenon; M al-Awami et al.; May 2002
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin B6; ;Jane Higdon, Ph.D; Feb. 2002
- Steve Cohen/Photolibrary/Getty Images