Vitamin B6: Uses & Dosage, Deficiency, Side Effects & Health Benefits

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that your body needs to stay healthy. It’s also known as pyridoxine and has some major functions.

Your body needs B6 – it is an essential vitamin after all. It’s important for red blood cell production, DNA creation, and making neurotransmitters.

Vitamin B6 also plays a part in optimizing your metabolism. You need it so your body can process and unlock energy from the food you eat.

Eating a well-balanced, wholesome diet should give you enough B6 every day to stay healthy. However, deficiencies are common, especially among certain populations. By eating enough foods full of vitamin B6 you actively support your health. You might even be able to reduce your risk of chronic diseases too (1).

What is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found naturally in a number of foods. It’s also added to some others like breakfast cereals and can be found in supplements too.

Because B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, stores run out quickly and pretty much daily. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, your body can’t keep hold of water-soluble vitamins for long.

As you can guess, vitamin B6 is part of the B vitamin family. In its active form, pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, it acts as a coenzyme for over 100 reactions inside the body. These include reactions in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose.

But the body needs B6 for way more than getting energy out of food.

What does Vitamin B6 do?

As we state above, vitamin B6 helps every one of your cells metabolize energy. It’s nothing less than essential for keeping you active and energized.

One of B6’s integral roles is supporting the creation of neurotransmitters. It also helps in the generation of myelin, which forms the protective sheathing around your nerves.

Imagine this myelin like the insulation of an electrical wire. It’s there to keep all your millions of electrical impulses contained and moving efficiently. Without it’s myelin sheath, your nervous system can seriously suffer.

B6 also assists the creation of hemoglobin – the metalloprotein inside red blood cells.

Like the word ‘metalloprotein’ suggests, hemoglobin contains the metal iron. This helps it transport oxygen around the body.

All of your organs need oxygen to function properly. That’s why people with low iron and a low red blood cell count often feel fatigued and tired – this is a condition known as anemia.

If that wasn’t enough to have your eye on B6, it’s also partially responsible for gene expression. This is when information is taken from a gene to create a functional gene product.

Put simply, B6 plays a critical role in the creation of your DNA.

Recently, vitamin B6 has been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As a result, it could contribute to preventing certain health issues like cancer and heart diseases (2)(3)(4).

By now, you’re seeing how much of a key role B6 plays in your life.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B6

A well-balanced, nutritious diet should provide you with all the B6 you need. But even if your diet is pristine, it’s worth knowing the recommended daily intake.

All healthy adults between 19-50 years old should aim for 1.3mg a day (5). Men over 50, however, need 1.5mg whereas women over 50 only need 1.5mg.

Going over the tolerable upper limit orally shouldn’t cause side-effects. B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning you should pass out any extra naturally. On the other hand, injections can cause issues.

On the other hand, injections can cause issues.

Vitamin B6 deficiency

B6 is just one of eight vitamins in the B vitamin family. Most healthy people can get adequate amounts from their diet too.

But deficiencies do happen – especially among at-risk groups. People who have digestive issues, liver or kidney problems, and autoimmune disease are most likely to be B6 deficient.

The same can be said for smokers and alcoholics too. Alcohol can limit nutrient absorption.

Interestingly, pregnant women are also considered to be at risk of B6 deficiency. Why is this an issue? Because healthy levels of vitamin B6 are important for the health of both you and your baby during pregnancy.

Signs/Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency

Spotting the symptoms of a B6 deficiency is the first step to solving many health issues.

Here are the most common signs to look out for:

1. Tiredness and fatigue

Tiredness is one thing you might begin to feel. You might not quite feel your energetic self, or you might feel like you can’t just going.

Remember how we looked at B6 being important for hemoglobin? A deficiency can mean there’s not enough hemoglobin to transport oxygen around your body.

The result has become anemic, which makes you feel tired and weak. What might have been routine before all of a sudden becomes difficult – such as simple tasks at work or going for your morning run.

One study has shown that supplementing with the body’s most active form of B6 (pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, aka PLP) cured anemia in some patients (6).

So, if you’re feeling the warning signs of anemia, curing it could be as simple as taking a PLP supplement. This is the same form of vitamin B6 we’ve chosen for Hourglass Fit..

2. Cracked lips

Cracked and sore lips can be caused by a condition called cheilosis. Understandably, this can be very painful and make simple things like eating and talking difficult.

Cheilosis can also stem from a B6 deficiency. Fortunately for most though, eating B6 rich foods or taking a supplement can quickly clear up the condition.

It’s important to spot cheilosis early and have it checked by a doctor. If you leave things for too long, the cracks can split and become infected, which causes even more pain.

3. Changes in mood

A drop below baseline B6 could also affect your mood. Depression, anxiety, and irritability might all be amplified by a deficiency.

Earlier we talked about how B6 plays a part in the creation of neurotransmitters. Two of these are serotonin and GABA, which help regulate anxiety and depression(7).

There isn’t many studies outlining exactly how B6 can contribute to managing these issues. However, there is research out there showing how the vitamin can help women with premenstrual syndrome – aka PMS.

According to recent research, taking daily B6 supplements could help calm the symptoms of PMS, including anxiety, depression, irritability, and moodiness (8)(9).

A key theory behind the benefits of B6 is its role in producing serotonin, one of neurotransmitters that regulates mood.

4. Pins and needles

Nerve damage can be one of the more severe side effects of B6 deficiency.

One way it can manifest itself is in pains and needles – an uncomfortable, tingling feeling in your hands and feet.

Most people only ever experience mild pins and needles. However, shooting pains and burning sensations can happen in some cases.

As well as this tingling feeling, your movements might be thrown off too. You could become clumsy and find it hard to walk without losing your balance. Scientists say these movement problems are also caused by nerve damage (10).

5. Rashes

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that results in an itchy, red rash. Sufferers might also notice their skin becomes swollen, flaky, and oily..

Vitamin B6 deficiency can be one of the causes of seborrheic dermatitis. One theory is that a lack of B6 reduces how much collagen can be produced. This is an issue because your skin needs collagen to stay healthy.

If a B6 deficiency is to blame for these rashes, taking a supplement could solve the issue (11). Some people have even seen results from using B6 cream that they apply straight to their skin (12).

Other symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency:

  • Weak immune system
  • Glossitis of the tongue
  • Seizures
  • High homocysteine levels

Health Benefits

After reading about the serious side effects of vitamin B6 deficiency, you’ll already know most of the health benefits. First and foremost, it can work to prevent the above issues affecting your health and wellbeing.

We’ll take a look at the main health benefits of B6 here:

1. Can help treat symptoms of PMS

Like we saw earlier, vitamin B6 can be used to treat some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Depression, anxiety, and irritability can all be calmed by B6, says research (13). One study saw a 69% improvement in the women the 60 premenopausal women they analyzed.

However, it’s important to remember that the study above used small sample sizes. The evidence isn’t quite conclusive yet.

2. Might stop morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in keeping both mother and baby healthy during pregnancy. So, while researchers aren’t sure why it helps morning sickness and nausea, they think this might be why.

One study found that taking 30 mg of B6 a day significantly lowered feelings of sickness and nausea after only five days in 342 pregnant women (14). Another saw that 75 mg of daily B6 reduced vomiting and nausea by 31% after just four days (15).

While the evidence about B6 and PMS isn’t very conclusive, it’s ability to stop morning sickness and nausea is. If you want to use B6 for morning sickness speak to your doctor first.

Hourglass Fit contains a generous and safe B6 dose of 1.7 mg. However, some of the ingredients might not be suited to pregnant women.

We do not recommend pregnant women take any supplement without having it checked by a medical professional. DO NOT use Hourglass Fit if pregnant.

3. Could boost mood and reduce depression

B6 is a key contributor in the production of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that regulates mood (16).

It’s also part of the process that creates dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric (GABA), which are two other neurotransmitters that control emotion (17)(18).

As we saw earlier, scientists have found a link between low levels of vitamin B6 and mental health issues. One study even found that B6 deficiency doubles your chances of depression (19).

Plus, other research suggests that vitamin B6 is involved in lowering your homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid found in your blood. Interestingly, homocysteine has been connected to increased risk of depression and psychiatric problems (20)(21).

4. Could prevent anemia

Anemia was a serious symptom we saw from vitamin B6 deficiency. So, it should come as no shock that healthy B6 levels can help prevent it.

This is down to how B6 helps hemoglobin production, the protein that takes oxygen to your cells. If your cells don’t get enough oxygen, they can’t function properly.

When you become anemic, it doesn’t take long before you begin to feel tired or weak. You might also become dizzy, or have difficulty concentrating on things you’d usually find easy.

Some studies have also shown that B6 deficiency is connected with anemia in women who were either of childbearing age, or expecting (22)(23). So, premenopausal women are considered an at-risk group.

5. Might help prevent certain cancers

B6 might help prevent certain cancers because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

There’s research that shows a connection between healthy B6 blood levels and a reduced risk of breast cancer. According to the team behind it, this was most apparent in post-menopausal women (24).

A more in-depth review of 12 studies also looked at how B6 helped reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Those who had the most B6 in their blood had 49% less chance of developing the condition (25).

One study carried out at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied samples from almost 33,000 women. What they saw was that the subjects who had the highest levels of B6 in their diet, also showed the lowest incidence of colorectal cancer.

According to the lead researcher, Esther Wei, Sc.D; vitamin B6 might help because of its role of creating and maintaining DNA (26). But scientists aren’t totally sure exactly how B6 managed to do what it does against cancer.

Other health benefits of healthy B6 levels include:

  • Could prevent eye diseases
  • Might treat inflammation connected to arthritis
  • Might help stop clogged arteries
  • Could boost brain health
  • Could reduce risk of Alzheimer’s

Vitamin B6 Side Effects

If you take vitamin B6 within the recommended dose, you shouldn’t experience side effects. We’ve considered this by using 1.7 mg in Hourglass Fit, an amount that should be both safe and effective.

However, if you do consume more than the recommended daily amount (RDA), the chances of side effects jump up significantly.

Some people have said they experienced nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain from taking B6. Other reported side effects include sleepiness, headaches, and tingling feelings.

It might not be safe to take high doses of B6 for long periods. Doing so can result in nerve damage, as well as brain issues.

The tolerable upper limit for adults is 100 mg of B6 a day (27).


It’s plain to see how important B6 is for your health and wellbeing. So, naturally, you’re going to have a lot of questions about it.

In this section, we’ll go over the most frequently asked questions about B6.

If there’s anything we haven’t covered and you’d like to know about, let us know. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

Does vitamin B6 help you sleep?

Yes – B6 can help you sleep. In fact, it’s not just reserved to B6 either, as B3, B5, B9, and B12 can all contribute to achieving a good night’s rest.

B vitamins, B6 Included, help regulate your levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that then helps your body produce melatonin to make you feel sleepy.

What food contains vitamin B6?

People who eat a varied diet should easily get their RDA of B6. Here are some of the richest food sources for vitamin B6:

  • Fish – especially salmon
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Pork
  • Vegetables
  • Soya Beans
  • Bananas
  • Chickpeas
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Milk
  • Potatoes
  • Fortified plant milks
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

Does vitamin B6 help with anxiety?

Vitamin B6 can help prevent anxiety, especially in premenstrual women. One of its key roles inside the body is to create neurotransmitters that control mood. These include GABA and serotonin, which both help regulate anxiety.

However, there’s not much evidence that suggests everybody can use B6 to help anxiety. Seek the help of a trained medical professional if you’re worried about your mental wellbeing.

Can you take vitamin B6 and B12 together?

Yes, it’s absolutely fine to take them together. In fact, a lot of supplements have both B6 and B12 in their formula because they complement each other.

If you take B6 and B12 in sensible amounts, you should not experience side effects. Follow supplement guidelines.

Does vitamin B6 help hair growth?

B vitamins benefit oxygen transportation around the body by producing hemoglobin. Naturally, your scalp and hair follicles need oxygen and nutrients, which are delivered by these red blood cells.

Healthy red blood cells can contribute to helping hair grow.


Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient that contributes to the health of every cell you have. How much you get can really reflect in your overall health and wellbeing.

All B vitamins have a role in regulating your metabolism. So, while they define how much energy you can unlock for food, B vitamins play a much bigger role than that. B6 specifically can influence for the creation of neurotransmitters, making it integral to not just brain health, but your entire nervous system.

Deficiencies in B6 can result in symptoms that range from mild to severe. You could just feel tired, or experience painful, cracking lips and skin. Severely low levels could even leave you with nerve damage.

Bottom line – all of us need vitamin B6 to live happy, healthy lives.

Fortunately, keeping your B6 levels topped up doesn’t need to be hard. Most people get enough from their diet. However, supplements are always on hand to help.

We’ve included a sensible 1.7 mg into Hourglass Fit to support you on your weight loss journey. We feel this amount should be effective, while also keeping you safe from side effects.

The B6 in Hourglass Fit can act as a safety net when your food portions get smaller. Just because you’re eating less doesn’t mean you should have to miss out on vital nutrients.

Good luck with your weight loss goals.































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