What’s The Difference Between Vitamin B6 And B12 And How To Get Both
Spoiler alert: Both of these members of the B family are essential.
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Generally speaking, B vitamins are necessary for a variety of functions, such as helping the body convert food into energy and assisting the body in proper cell formation. While there are eight vitamins that fall under the B category , two of these vitamins â B6 and B12 â tend to get the most attention.
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“Specific B vitamins, including vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, work together to reduce homocysteine levels in the body â and heightened homocysteine levels may increase your risk of heart disease,” Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
A severe deficiency of B6 can led to depression, confusion or skin condition, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health while a B12 deficiency may cause anemia, mood swings, intestinal problems and muscle weakness, per the Mayo Clinic.
“Yet if vitamin B6 deficiency exists, it is usually alongside a deficiency in vitamin B12 and perhaps folic acid , as well,” Gorin says, adding that people are rarely deficient in either vitamin.
Is Vitamin B6 Good For You
Vitamin b6, also called pyridoxine, is one among eight b nutritional vitamins that your physique wants to remain wholesome. This nutrient is an important a part of practically 200 chemical reactions in your physique, and its obligatory for processes like mind improvement and transporting oxygen by your bloodstream. Vitamin b6 additionally helps you keep a wholesome nervous and immune system.
Vitamin B: A Helpful Tool For Stress Management
B6 is an overlooked strategy for handling stress and inflammatory conditions. Many people may benefit from this well-tolerated and inexpensive treatment at lower doses. While most studies look at B6 alone as a treatment, it seems to work best in an integrated approach with other B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, and other nutrients. For those who are at risk or prone to low levels, you may want to discuss with your doctor if B6 supplementation could be helpful.
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May Promote Brain Health And Reduce Alzheimers Risk
Vitamin B6 may play a role in improving brain function and preventing Alzheimers disease, but the research is conflicting.
On the one hand, B6 can decrease high homocysteine blood levels that may increase the risk of Alzheimers .
One study in 156 adults with high homocysteine levels and mild cognitive impairment found that taking high doses of B6, B12 and folate decreased homocysteine and reduced wasting in some regions of the brain that are vulnerable to Alzheimers .
However, its unclear if a decrease in homocysteine translates to improvements in brain function or a slower rate of cognitive impairment.
A randomized controlled trial in over 400 adults with mild to moderate Alzheimers found that high doses of B6, B12 and folate decreased homocysteine levels but did not slow decline in brain function compared to a placebo .
In addition, a review of 19 studies concluded that supplementing with B6, B12 and folate alone or in combination did not improve brain function or reduce the risk of Alzheimers .
More research that looks at the effect of vitamin B6 alone on homocysteine levels and brain function is needed to better understand the role of this vitamin in improving brain health.
Summary Vitamin B6 may prevent a decline in brain function by decreasing homocysteine levels that have been associated with Alzheimers disease and memory impairments. However, studies have not proven the effectiveness of B6 in improving brain health.
What To Look For
In the United States, dietary supplements are not held to the same rigorous testing standards as pharmaceutical drugs. This means that the quality of supplements, like vitamin B complex, may vary from one brand to the next and you can find many different brands of vitamin B supplements at drug stores, grocery stores, health food shops, and online.
When shopping for B vitamins, look for brands that have been tested by an independent certification organization, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia , ConsumerLab, or NSF International. This can help to ensure quality.
Vitamin B supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place and out of reach of children.
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Vitamin B3 Breaks Down Food Into Energy
We need vitamin B3, also called nicotinic acid or niacin, in our diets every day to break down food we eat into energy we can use. Females who are 14 and older need 14 mg a day males in this age group need 16 mg daily. Legumes, nuts, enriched breads, dairy, fish, and lean meats are all good sources of this type of vitamin B.
Not getting enough niacin in your diet causes the disorder known as pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include both physical and mental difficulties, diarrhea, inflamed mucus membranes, and dementia. Pellagra can also result when the body is not able to absorb enough niacin because of alcoholism. Health benefits of niacin include its use as a treatment to help control high blood levels of cholesterol. Doses of niacin high enough to lower cholesterol are associated with several side effects and should only be taken with a physicians supervision.
Cracked And Sore Lips
Cheilosis, which is characterized by sore, red and swollen lips with cracked mouth corners, can result from B6 deficiency. Cracked areas may bleed and become infected.
In addition to being very painful, having cracked and sore lips can make activities like eating and talking difficult.
Correcting B6 deficiency with foods rich in the vitamin or a supplement may clear up these symptoms.
Notably, deficiencies of riboflavin, folate, iron and other nutrients can also cause this condition, as can sunny, dry or windy weather and other external factors .
Summary Sore lips with cracks in the corners of your mouth can be a sign of B6 deficiency. If thats the case, getting enough B6 through food or a supplement could heal your lips.
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B Vitamins Are Tied To Lower Stroke Risk
In addition to their role in metabolism and in maintaining healthy skin and hair, B vitamins have been linked to a lower incidence of stroke, a condition in which a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, or a blood vessel bursts in the brain. A review of randomized clinical trials that lasted six months or longer revealed that vitamin B supplements lowered risk of stroke by 7 percent for a large group of more than 50,000 participants. The study was authored by Xu Yuming and colleagues from Zhengzhou, China, and published in the September 2013 issue of the clinical journal Neurology. But before you begin taking vitamin B complex or any B vitamin supplement, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
May Prevent Clogged Arteries And Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Vitamin B6 may prevent clogged arteries and minimize heart disease risk.
Research shows that people with low blood levels of vitamin B6 have almost double the risk of getting heart disease compared to those with higher B6 levels .
This is likely due to the role of B6 in decreasing elevated homocysteine levels associated with several disease processes, including heart disease .
One study found that rats deficient in vitamin B6 had higher blood levels of cholesterol and developed lesions that could cause artery blockages after being exposed to homocysteine, compared to rats with adequate B6 levels .
Human research also shows a beneficial effect of B6 in preventing heart disease.
A randomized controlled trial in 158 healthy adults who had siblings with heart disease divided participants into two groups, one that received 250 mg of vitamin B6 and 5 mg of folic acid every day for two years and another that received a placebo .
The group that took B6 and folic acid had lower homocysteine levels and less abnormal heart tests during exercise than the placebo group, putting them at an overall lower risk of heart disease .
Summary Vitamin B6 may help reduce high homocysteine levels that lead to narrowing of arteries. This may minimize heart disease risk.
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What Is Vitamin B6 And What Does It Do
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the family of eight B vitamins that our bodies need to stay healthy.
It is water soluble, which means that it cannot be stored in our bodies, so we need to get enough in our diets every day.1
Vitamin B6 is needed for:2,3
- the brain and nervous system
- normal immune function
- releasing energy from your food
- haemoglobin for red blood cells
- regulating hormones
- helping to reduce tiredness and fatigue
You can get all the vitamin B6 you need from a healthy balanced diet.4 Rich sources include seafood, lean meat, chickpeas, poultry, potatoes and bananas.5
A lack of vitamin B6 is rare in healthy, younger adults, but can be more common in elderly people who may have poor eating habits. Symptoms include numbness in the hands and feet and anaemia.6
May Promote Eye Health And Prevent Eye Diseases
Vitamin B6 may play a role in preventing eye diseases, especially a type of vision loss that affects older adults called age-related macular degeneration .
Studies have linked high blood levels of circulating homocysteine with an increased risk of AMD .
Since vitamin B6 helps reduce elevated blood levels of homocysteine, getting enough B6 may lower your risk of this disease .
A seven-year study in over 5,400 female health professionals found that taking a daily supplement of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid significantly reduced AMD risk by 3540%, compared to a placebo .
While these results suggest that B6 may play a role in preventing AMD, its difficult to tell if B6 alone would offer the same benefits.
Research has also linked low blood levels of vitamin B6 to eye conditions that block veins that connect to the retina. A controlled study in over 500 people found that the lowest blood levels of B6 were significantly associated with retinal disorders .
Summary Vitamin B6 supplements may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration . Additionally, adequate blood levels of B6 may prevent issues that affect the retina. However, more research is needed.
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Can I Test My Levels Of B6
If you are concerned that you may have low levels, blood tests are readily available. Serum or blood levels of P-5-P are the best indicator of long-term body stores of vitamin B6.
While the optimal healthy range for B6 has not been definitely determined, those who are at the lower end of the normal range may benefit from increasing B6 intake through diet or supplementation. Typically, those taking supplements have higher levels than the usual reference ranges. However, this does not necessarily indicate toxicity.
What’s So Great About Vitamin B12
“Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that plays a role in necessary functions within your body, such as the production of red blood cells and proper maintenance of the central nervous system,” says Gorin. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this vitamin is also vital for producing DNA and the development and function of brain cells.
In fact, levels of vitamin B12 decrease with age. Adults between the ages of 61 and 80 who participated in the research had nearly three times less of this vitamin in their brain compared to younger, healthy adults, according to a January 2016 study published in the journal PLOS One.
However, it’s important to note that long-term high-dose intake from individual supplements â but not from multivitamins â is associated with a 30 to 40 percent increase in lung cancer risk in men only, research published in an August 2017 edition of Journal of Clinical Oncology found.
The current RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for adults. “Since many sources of vitamin B12 are animal-based, vegetarians and vegans tend to be low in this vitamin,” says Gorin. “And keep in mind that both vitamins are water-soluble, meaning your body doesn’t keep large stores of them. Therefore, it’s important to get the nutrients from food, supplements or both.”
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What Are The Benefits For The Body When Taking Vitamin B6
With over a century since its discovery in 1915, we have a firm understanding of the role of B6 in human physiology.
The US National Library of Medicine says that vitamin B6 is required for the proper function of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body.
A scientific opinion published by the European Food Safety Authority found the following properties for vitamin B6:
- Contribution to normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism
- Contribution to normal psychological functions
- Contribution to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
A cause and effect relationship was established between vitamin B6 and each of these health benefits.
And because it is the EFSAs job is to assess properties of foods and provide scientific advice on their nutritional value, you know this is good, trustworthy information.
May Treat Inflammation Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin B6 may help reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The high levels of inflammation in the body that result from rheumatoid arthritis may lead to low levels of vitamin B6 .
However, its unclear if supplementing with B6 in people with this condition.
A 30-day study in 36 adults with rheumatoid arthritis found that 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily corrected low blood levels of B6 but did not decrease the production of inflammatory molecules in the body .
On the other hand, a study in 43 adults with rheumatoid arthritis that took 5 mg of folic acid alone or 100 mg of vitamin B6 with 5 mg of folic acid daily showed that those who received B6 had significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory molecules after 12 weeks .
The contradictory results of these studies may be due to the difference in vitamin B6 dose and study length.
While it appears that high doses of vitamin B6 supplements may provide anti-inflammatory benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis over time, more research is needed.
Summary Inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis may lower blood levels of vitamin B6. Supplementing with high doses of B6 may help correct deficiencies and reduce inflammation, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.
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Risks And Side Effects
Like other B vitamins, such as riboflavin and thiamine, vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that if you consume too much vitamin B it will simply be excreted through the urine. For this reason, there is minimal risk of vitamin B6 toxicity from vitamin B6 foods.
However, a vitamin B overdose is possible if high doses are consumed from supplements. Some of the most common signs of toxicity can include nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, increased urination and flushing of the skin. High amounts of B6 can even contribute to more serious side effects like nerve damage.
Vitamin B6 can interact with other medications when taken in high amounts. If youre being treated for any of the following conditions with medications, its always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, including B6.
Some medications that interact with vitamin B6 include:
- Drugs used for treating Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease, anemia, seizures, or heart disease
- Any drugs used in chemotherapy
- Cycloserine or Isoniazid for treating tuberculosis
- Hydralazine for treating high blood pressure
- Penicillamine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
- Theophylline used to treat asthma
- Antibiotics including Tetracycline
- Antidepressant medications, including Pamelor, Elavil, desipramine, Norpramin and Tofranil
- Some antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors may also be able to reduce blood levels of vitamin B6
What Is Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is one of the vitamins included in the vitamin B complex family. All B vitamins, including vitamin B6, play an important role in a range of physical and psychological functions. However, they are most well-known for helping to maintain a healthy metabolism, supporting nerve and liver function, and promoting the health of the skin and eyes.
So what does vitamin B6 do specifically, and why is it important?
Vitamin B6 has several derivatives, including pyridoxal, pyridoxal 5-phosphate and pyridoxamine. These are all important compounds involved in numerous biological functions. In fact, vitamin B6 is used by the body every single day and plays a major role in everything from movement to memory to energy expenditure and blood flow.
Vitamin B6 also helps the body maintain a healthy nervous system, produces hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body, aids in providing energy from the food that we eat, works to balance blood sugar levels, acts as a natural painkiller, boosts mood and also enhances immunity by increasing the synthesis of antibodies used to protect the body. However, the potential vitamin B6 benefits dont stop there. In fact, studies show that vitamin B6 benefits can also maintain healthy blood vessels, reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, prevent kidney stones and more to help maximize your health.
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May Help Treat Nausea During Pregnancy
Vitamin B6 has been used for decades to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
In fact, its an ingredient in Diclegis, a medication commonly used to treat morning sickness .
Researchers are not entirely sure why vitamin B6 helps with morning sickness, but it may be because adequate B6 plays several vital roles in ensuring a healthy pregnancy .
A study in 342 women in their first 17 weeks of pregnancy found that a daily supplement of 30 mg of vitamin B6 significantly reduced feelings of nausea after five days of treatment, compared to a placebo .
Another study compared the impact of ginger and vitamin B6 on reducing episodes of nausea and vomiting in 126 pregnant women. The results showed that taking 75 mg of B6 each day decreased nausea and vomiting symptoms by 31% after four days .
These studies suggest that vitamin B6 is effective in treating morning sickness even in durations of less than one week.
If youre interested in taking B6 for morning sickness, speak with your doctor before starting any supplements.
Summary Vitamin B6 supplements in doses of 3075 mg a day have been used as an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.