Vitamin B6 is a type of B vitamin. It can be found in certain foods such as cereals, beans, vegetables, liver, meat, and eggs. It can also be made in a laboratory.
Vitamin B6 is used for preventing and treating low levels of pyridoxine (pyridoxine deficiency) and the "tired blood" (anemia) that may result. It is also used for heart and blood vessel disease; high cholesterol and other fats in the blood; high blood pressure; stroke; reducing blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical that might be linked to heart disease; and helping clogged arteries stay open after a balloon procedure to unblock them (angioplasty).
Women use vitamin B6 for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other menstruation problems, "morning sickness" (nausea and vomiting) in early pregnancy, stopping breastmilk flow after childbirth, depression related to pregnancy, menopause, or using birth control pills, and symptoms of menopause.
Vitamin B6 is also used for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia or memory loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, autism, diabetes and related nerve pain, sickle cell anemia, migraine headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, night leg cramps, muscle cramps, arthritis, preventing fractures in people with weak bones, allergies, acne and various other skin conditions, and infertility. It is also used for dizziness, motion sickness, preventing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), seizures, convulsions due to fever, and movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia, hyperkinesis, chorea), as well as for increasing appetite and helping people remember dreams.
Some people use vitamin B6 for boosting the immune system, eye infections, bladder infections, tooth decay, and preventing polyps, cancer, and kidney stones.
Vitamin B6 is also used to overcome certain harmful side effects related to radiation treatment and treatment with medications such as mitomycin, procarbazine, cycloserine, fluorouracil, hydrazine, isoniazid, penicillamine, and vincristine.
Vitamin B6 is also used for nausea and vomiting associated with gastrointestinal illness in children and with use of birth control taken by mouth.
Vitamin B6 is frequently used in combination with other B vitamins in vitamin B complex products.
You may remember a prescription medication called Bendectin that was used for morning sickness in pregnancy. Bendectin contained vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and a sleep-inducing antihistamine called doxylamine. The makers of Bendectin took it off the market in 1983 because they were running up expensive legal bills in defense of their product. Opponents charged it might be responsible for birth defects. Meanwhile, a product called Diclectin that is similar to Bendectin remained available in Canada, and there was research showing that neither vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) nor Bendectin seems to cause birth defects in animals. After Bendectin was removed from the market, there was no reduction in birth defects, but hospitalization rates for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting doubled.
How it works
Vitamin B6 is required for the proper function of sugars, fats, and proteins in the body. It is also required for the proper growth and development of the brain, nerves, skin, and many other parts of the body.
EffectiveAnemia (sideroblastic anemia)
Taking vitamin B6 by mouth is effective for treating an inherited type of anemia called sideroblastic anemia.
Administering vitamin B6 as pyridoxine intravenously (by IV) controls seizures in infants that are caused by pyridoxine dependence.
Taking vitamin B6 by mouth is effective for preventing and treating vitamin B6 deficiency.
Vitamin B6 is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used appropriately
Vitamin B6 is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts greater than the recommended dietary allowance. In some people, vitamin B6 might cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, headache, tingling, sleepiness, and other side effects
Long-term use of high doses of vitamin B6 and when vitamin B6 is given as a shot into the muscle is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. When used orally in high doses it might cause certain brain and nerve problems. When given as a shot into the muscle it might cause muscle problems.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin B6 isLIKELY SAFEforpregnantwomen when taken under the supervision of their healthcare provider. It is sometimes used in pregnancy to control morning sickness. High doses areUNSAFE. High doses can cause newborns to have seizures.
Vitamin B6 is LIKELY SAFE for breast-feeding women when used in amounts not larger than 2 mg per day (the recommended dietary allowance). Avoid using higher amounts. Not enough is known about the safety of vitamin B6 at higher doses in breast-feeding women.
Procedures to widen narrowed arteries (angioplasty). Using vitamin B6 along with folic acid and vitamin B12 intravenously (by IV) or by mouth might worsen narrowed arteries. Vitamin B6 should not be used by people recovering from this procedure.
Diabetes. Using vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 might increase the risk of cancer in people with diabetes and a recent stroke. Vitamin B6 should not be used by patients with diabetes that have had a recent stroke.
The body breaks down phenytoin (Dilantin) to get rid of it. Vitamin B6 might increase how quickly the body breaks down phenytoin. Taking vitamin B6 along with phenytoin (Dilantin) might decrease the effectiveness of phenytoin (Dilantin) and increase the possibility of seizures. Do not take large doses of vitamin B6 if you are taking phenytoin (Dilantin).
Amiodarone (Cordarone) might increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Taking vitamin B6 along with amiodarone (Cordarone) might increase the chances of sunburn, blistering, or rashes on areas of skin exposed to sunlight. Be sure to wear sunblock and protective clothing when spending time in the sun.Phenobarbital (Luminal)
Vitamin B6 might lower blood pressure. It has the potential to add to blood pressure-lowering effects of antihypertensive drugs and increase the risk of blood pressure becoming too low.Some medications used to lower blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.The body breaks down phenobarbital (Luminal) to get rid of it. Vitamin B6 might increase how quickly the body breaks down phenobarbital (Luminal). This could decrease the effectiveness of phenobarbital (Luminal).