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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The ABC's of Vitamins - Vitamin B6

Ahhh, another day, another B vitamin! Today’s vitamin is vitamin B6, and you may have guessed from the other B vitamins, it too is not a single chemical. Vitamin B6 is the generic term for a group of derivatives which include pyridoxine (PN), pyridoxal (PL) and pyridoxamine (PM). Vitamin B6 was discovered in 1934 and was named “the rat dermatitis factor” due to the finding that a lack of this compound led to dermatitis in rats – how pleasant! (It didn’t take to long for them to figure out there were other B vitamins involved).

Pyridoxine is found primarily in plant tissues, while pyridoxal and pyridoxamine are found primarily in animal tissues. All of these derivatives convert to the main active form pyridoxal 5-phosphate (PLP) in the body. Vitamin B6 is also a coenzyme for over 100 enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism (protein). It is involved in the manufacture of serotonin, melatonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, and is integral to the functioning of our central and peripheral nervous systems. Vitamin B6 also has a role in modulating steroid homone activity in the body and it promotes red blood cell production. Wow! Good thing it is pretty widely available!

Our bodies can’t manufacture this vitamin, so we get it from our diet. Vitamin B6 can be found in potato skins, salmon & trout, bananas, avocados, yeast, whole grains, nuts, pulses, lean meats and liver. Like other water soluble vitamins, it can be lost in processing due to heat or removal of the germ & bran from grains. Because B6 is vital to protein metabolism, as your protein intake increases, so should your B6 intake. The USRDA is 1.3mg per day, or 16 mcg per gram of protein consumed. While this vitamin is not stored in the body, it can become toxic at levels above 50 mg/day causing neurological toxicity. Please come back to learn about vitamin B7 - Biotin.

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