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The Benefits of Vitamin B6

B6 Deficiency…. A must read for everyone

The B complex of vitamins plays an essential role in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in our bodies.  B complex vitamins are also used by the body for healthy skin, hair, liver, adrenal glands, and eyesight.  The B complex vitamins are a combination of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.  Although some of the B vitamins have very specific functions, they all help support each other and the bodily processes they affect.

Vitamin B6 is often researched due to its extensive and varied job in the body.  B6 helps many of the systems in your body function more efficiently.  Specifically, B6 is important for cardiovascular health, digestive health, your immune system, musculo-skeletal system, and most importantly, your nervous system.  B6 is needed for proper development of the brain.  It is also part of your hormonal production system.  B6 helps the body make melatonin, serotonin, norepinephrine.   B6  is the vitamin that is a work horse but is mostly undervalued in modern diet.

B6 vitamins are water soluble which means they dissolve within your body in the presence of any fluid.  If you take in too much B6, your body simply excretes it out and turns your urine a fluorescent color.  However, there are still non-hazardous dangers with consuming too much B6 in a short time period.  I have had quite a few patients addicted to energy drinks.  Over consuming B6 in short time periods, more than 100 mg a day, may increase the risk of health problems such as nausea, abdominal pain, and even neurological disorders although these are uncommon.

The specific amounts of B6 needed depends mainly on your age, gender, and other circumstances like pregnancy and breast feeding.  Athletes obviously need a little more than those that do not exercise, however, everyone can benefit from a B6 supplement.

Vitamin B6 can be found, like many of the B vitamins, in food sources like beef, poultry, fish, and eggs. Other foods that are high in B6 vitamin are whole grains, fortified cereals, nuts, beans, bananas, and potatoes.  For the vegetarians, Vitamin B6 is usually included in multivitamins and sold as an individual supplement; it may be listed as pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, pyridoxine hydrochloride, or pyridoxal-5-phosphate.

B6 benefits may include positive effects on neurological conditions such as seizures, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s disease due to its role in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are necessary for nerve communication. There is preliminary evidence that people who do not get enough vitamin B6 may have an increased risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. In a recent large-scale study in Japan, researchers found that high consumption of dietary vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 were associated with reduced risk of death from stroke, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.

For the athlete, supplementing with B6 is always a healthy choice because B6 is most famous for nervous system health and tendon strength.  B6 has been shown to increase tendon elasticity and strength with is essential for any exercise enthusiast.  B6 has also been shown to help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the tendons and muscles.

In general, I always recommend a B complex to my patients.  It is one of the key supplements that I find effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and many ligament strains.  Adding a B complex to your diet can only help you in your goals for a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Philip O’Brien is a Chiropractic Physician and owner of The OBrien Clinic.  The OBrien Clinic is the Lehigh Valley’s leading source for spinal pain and sports injuries.  For more information, visit his website at

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