Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

How much you need each day:

  • 1.2mg for adult women
  • 1.4mg for adult men

Why you need it:

This vitamin is involved in the metabolism of protein, especially the conversion of tryptophan into niacin (see Vitamin B3).

It’s also essential for the formation of red blood cells, antibodies and brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Some women also report that vitamin B6 provides relief from the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Good food sources:

Vitamin B6 is found in many foods including fish, offal, pork, eggs, yeast extract, brown rice, soya beans, oats, wholegrains, peanuts, walnuts, avocado and bananas.

Too little:

A deficiency in this vitamin is extremely rare but can lead to depression, headaches, confusion, irritability, cracking of the lips and tongue, numbness in the hands and feet, anaemia and lowered immunity.

Top tip:

If you want to take a supplement to help ease the symptoms of PMS make sure it contains less than 10mg of vitamin B6.

Very high doses of this vitamin – usually provided in the form of supplements – are linked with nerve damage, including numbness in the hands and feet.

Consequently, health experts recommend taking no more than 10mg a day, unless advised otherwise by a medically-qualified doctor.

How to get enough:

Food Vitamin B6 Content (mg)
50g Swiss-style muesli 0.8
100g drained tuna, canned in water 0.5
90g lean roast pork 0.4
50g walnuts 0.3
1/2 medium avocado 0.3
1 medium banana 0.3

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