Vitamin B6 has been around for a while. It was first discovered in 1932.
However, experts and scientists are still making new discoveries about this nutrient.
Vitamin B6 is typically found in your diet. However, many people don’t get optimal dosages. This results in poor liver health, cognitive function, and low testosterone, among many other issues. [1, 2]
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about vitamin B6. This includes its benefits on health and testosterone, effects of low vitamin B6, dosage guide, and much more.
See the “table of contents” below to easily navigate through the article.
What is Vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is one of eight vitamins that belong to the B complex group.
All B complex vitamins play an important role in metabolism, cognitive, liver, hormonal, and many other functions. 
Types of Vitamin B6
There are actually a number of derivatives of the B6 vitamin. These include pyridoxal 5-phosphate, also called p5p. Along with pyridoxamine and pyridoxal.
All these types of B6 are used by the body every day for countless processes from moving your legs to memorizing the information you learn.
As a supplement, pyridoxal 5-phosphate (p5p) is more expensive than other forms of B6. But it’s also more effective.
Other Key Effects of B6
Vitamin B6 also affects hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin carries red blood cells everywhere in the body.
- Naturally alleviates pain – a natural painkiller
- Improves energy usage – get the most out of the nutrients in your food
- Balances hormones – reduces estrogen, increases testosterone (more on that soon)
- Boosts your well-being – helps reduce mood swings, anxiety, and depression
And the list of benefits doesn’t end here.
To sum it up:
Vitamin B6, aka pyridoxine, is one of eight B vitamins. It plays a crucial role in over 150 processes in the body, including cardiovascular health, cognitive function, mood, energy metabolism, and testosterone health.
Effects of Low Vitamin B6
Most people get just enough vitamin B6 through their diet, so deficiency is not that common.
But whether people achieve optimal doses of this vitamin, is another question. If you lack optimal levels of B6, you could suffer from low testosterone, mood swings, skin rashes, and many other health malfunctions which I’ll explain below.
If you’re deficient in, let’s say, vitamin B12 or folate, there’s an increased chance that you’ll also be deficient in B6. 
If you suffer from any digestive, kidney, or liver issues, there’s an increased risk of deficiency for you as well. Other people who are at risk of B6 deficiency include elderly, obese individuals, pregnant women, and regular smokers. [2, 14]
Here are the 6 common signs that you might be vitamin B6 deficient:
Weak Immune System
A strong immune system is imperative to fighting inflammation, infections, and illnesses such as cancer. If you’re deficient in B6, your immune system might get disrupted.
To be more precise, B6 deficiency leads to a reduced production of white blood cells and antibodies which are key to fighting pathogens. 
Think this is bad?
It gets even worse…
See, not only does low vitamin B6 leads to low white blood cell count, but it also reduces your body’s ability to produce interleukin-2. A protein that directs the actions of your white blood cells. 
B6 is of even greater importance to people who suffer from autoimmune disease. This is a condition where the immune system attacks itself – unable to differentiate healthy cells from pathogens. 
To sum it up:
Without optimal levels of B6, your immune system can’t produce enough white blood cells, antibodies, and other defense factors that fight pathogens and infections.
A lack of B6 can cause mood swings. In more extreme cases of deficiency, it can even cause anxiety, depression, and panic attack episodes. 
There’s a good reason why this happens.
You see, vitamin B6 plays a key role in producing a number of neurotransmitters. Such as GABA and serotonin. Both of these brain chemicals are imperative for reducing depression, anxiety, and pain (both physical and emotional).
Experts suggest this is because B6 helps boost neurotransmitter production, resulting in alleviated symptoms of autism and other mental disorders.
One reason why B6 is so beneficial for these problems is that it helps boost serotonin, which regulates mood. That’s why scientists are now doing more research to determine if these mood disorders are actually related to nutritional deficiencies – so far, it looks like they definitely are. [21, 22]
To sum it up:
Low vitamin B6 levels lead to mood issues – including depression, anxiety, and irritability. This is because B6 plays a key role in the production of neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin, which affect how you feel.
Studies show that deficiency in B6 leads to hormonal inbalance.
Specifically, it leads to higher estrogen levels (female hormone), and reduced testosterone.
Since estrogen negatively affects testosterone, elevated levels of the female hormone further reduce testosterone production. Which is a recipe for catastrophe in men.
Consistent supplementation of B6 is shown to bring back optimal levels of hormones within the body – reducing estrogen, while boosting testosterone in men. 
To sum it up:
A deficiency in the B6 vitamin is linked to low testosterone, and high estrogen levels.
Skin Redness and Rashes
If you often experience red and itchy skin rashes, it could be due to B6 deficiency.
These skin rashes, also called seborrheic dermatitis, can appear on the back of your neck, forehead, cheeks, and upper chest. It’s easily recognizable – causing swelling, redness, and flaky and itchy skin. 
So what does B6 have anything to do with this?
Well, the vitamin plays a role in collagen production. As you might know, collagen is a protein essential for having healthy and youthful skin.
To sum it up:
Skin redness and rashes around the neck, face, scalp and upper chest are a common sign of low B6. If that’s the case, consuming enough B6 either through diet or supplementation helps resolve the issue.
Swollen and Sore Tounge
B6 deficiency can cause tongue redness, soreness, and inflammation.
As a result of this condition, papillae (little bumps on the tongue) usually disappear and this results in a glossy-looking tongue. Hence the name of this condition – glossitis.
Glossitis leads to a number of other problems. Such as difficulty swallowing, chewing, and even talking. If a deficiency in B6 is the cause of glossitis, then consuming enough of this vitamin will solve the issue.
However, there are also other nutrients that, when deficient in, can result in glossitis. These nutrients include vitamin B12, folate, and certain trace minerals. 
To sum it up:
Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a swollen, red, smooth (without any bumps), and inflamed tongue – a condition called glossitis. A deficiency in other nutrients, particularly vitamin B12, can also cause this condition.
Constant Fatigue and Low Energy
If you feel tired more often than you’d like to admit, it could be because your B6 vitamin stores are depleted.
One reason why this happens is because B6 plays a key role in hemoglobin production. As I already mentioned, hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout tissues in the body.
Without enough hemoglobin, your cells will have reduced oxygen levels, leading to less energy and feelings of exhaustion. This could even lead to more serious issues, such as anemia – low red blood cell count.
Studies that looked into B6’s effects on treating anemia showed that the p5p (pyridoxal 5′-phosphate) form of vitamin B6 is the most effective form for treating the issue. 
In other cases, treating anemia with the cheaper form of B6, pyridoxine hydrochloride, didn’t result in any improvements.
To sum it up:
A deficiency in B6 leads to a reduced number of red blood cells, which leads to chronic fatigue, and sometimes, anemia. Supplementing with p5p form of vitamin B6 has shown to be more effective at treating anemia than with pyridoxine HCL, which is the cheaper form of the B6 vitamin.
How Vitamin B6 Improves Your Testosterone
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about packing on muscle and boosting testosterone?
You might have answered heavy weightlifting and protein shakes. And this is true.
However, while these are obviously great, there are other factors that are crucial for maintaining strong testosterone. One of these factors is supporting your body with beneficial nutrients such as vitamin B6.
Pyridoxine, aka B6, doesn’t only help testosterone production, it’s also shown to lower the production of estrogen (female sex hormone) in men. It’s a win-win combo.
Here are the main benefits of B6 on hormones:
- Higher testosterone levels – more energy, increased confidence, and better muscle gains
- Reduced estrogen – estrogen and testosterone are closely related; when one goes up, the other one goes down. By reducing estrogen, B6 helps indirectly boost testosterone too.
Studies show us that regular supplementation of B6 leads to elevated testosterone levels. It also leads to improved testosterone synthesis in the testes. 
By getting enough B6 daily, you ensure that your male hormone stays strong and increase your muscle growth factors.
In other studies, we can see how B6 supplementation leads to suppressed gene expression induced by excess estrogen – up to 30%.
Basically, this means that B6 can help you reduce estrogen by 30% in your body. And in turn, increase testosterone even further. 
To sum it up:
Studies show that vitamin B6 supplementation affects testosterone both indirectly, and directly. For starters, it improves testosterone synthesis in the testes, allowing for increased production of the male hormone. B6 supplementation also suppresses estrogen production by up to 30%, increasing testosterone even further.
Best Food Sources of Vitamin B6
The typical American diet often lacks optimal doses of vitamin B6. For this reason, many people choose to supplement with additional B6.
However, others choose not to get their daily nutrients from supplements, but instead they add more of B6 rich foods in their diet.
With that in mind, here the top 10 B6 food sources:
- Turkey Breast — 3 oz: 0,7mg (53% daily value)
- Grass-Fed Beef (tenderloin) — 3 oz: 0,5 mg (38% daily value)
- Pistachios — One-quarter of a cup (1/4): 0,5 mg (38% daily value)
- Tuna — 3-oz can: 0,4 mg (30% daily value)
- Pinto Beans — 1 cup cooked: 0,4 mg (30% daily value)
- Avocado — 1 raw: 0,4 milligram (30% daily value)
- Chicken Breast — 200g: 0,3 milligram (23% daily value)
- Blackstrap Molasses — 2 tbsp: 0,26 milligram (20% daily value)
- Sunflower Seeds — One-quarter of a cup (1/4): 0,25 milligram (19% daily value)
- Sesame Seeds — One-quarter of a cup (1/4): 0,25 milligram (19% daily value)
Other B6-rich foods include:
- Chicken Liver
- Sweet Potatoes
- Ricotta Cheese
B6 Dosage Guide (How to Supplement)
As a water-soluble nutrient, vitamin B6 dissolves in water and passes through the urine instead of being stored in the body.
In other words, you need to consume enough B6 daily because your body can’t store it for further use.
This makes it crucial to take either a B6 supplement or eat a diet rich in this vitamin. I always recommend getting your nutrients from whole food. It’s always the best option.
Not only do foods contain other essential nutrients, but they are also better utilized by your body since your system naturally knows how to process them.
However, if you’re going to take a supplement with vitamin B6, then make sure it’s of high-quality and comes from a reliable vendor. Also, ensure there are no extra fillers or artificial additives. Try to get a supplement that’s as close to natural as possible.
If you’re 19 or older, then 1.3mg of B6 is the minimum dosage you need to ingest. However, since supplements are typically less absorbable than whole foods, you need higher dosages than that.
The optimal dosage of B6 in supplements is between 5-20mg daily. The lower dosage range is better for most individuals. However, if you’re seriously deficient, then you might consider upping your dose.
This is nothing to worry, as any excess B6 will get metabolized by your kidneys and excreted through urine.
Is There an Upper Limit?
The safe upper limit for vitamin B6 is 100-1,000mg, depending on the individual.
Make sure to stick to the recommended dosage that’s written on the label to ensure safety and efficacy.
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is a water-soluble nutrient and one of eight B vitamins. It’s essential for numerous bodily processes, from cognitive health to blood flow to testosterone production.
There are different forms of B6, including pyridoxine hydrochloride and pyridoxal 5-phosphate. Both of these turn to the active form of B6 in the body, called pyridoxal phosphate.
While B6 deficiency is not very common, many people don’t have optimal levels either.
Low vitamin B6 levels can cause numerous health problems. Such as skin rashes and redness, glossy and smooth tongue, serious mood swings (anxiety, insomnia, and depression), feelings of pain in the body, and weak testosterone.
Luckily, a deficiency in the B6 vitamin is easy to prevent or treat. The best thing you can do is to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and organic animal products.
For additional benefits, you can also take supplements which contain B6. This is another great way of reaping the beneficial effects of this essential, water-soluble nutrient.
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