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Vitamin B-6 Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

Basic Nutrition

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Updated April 17, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, is a member of the water-soluble family of vitamins. Your body needs it for regular nervous system function, production of normal red blood cells and protein metabolism. 

Deficiency Symptoms

People with vitamin B-6 deficiency could suffer from inflammation of the skin, a sore tongue, depression, cognitive problems and eventually convulsions. Because it's needed for normal red blood cells, a B-6 deficiency could also cause anemia.

Causes of Deficiency

A true vitamin B-6 deficiency is rare, but people who eat nutrient-poor diets may have a mild insufficiency.

Alcohol speeds up the loss of vitamin B-6 in the body so alcoholics may be prone to deficiency symptoms. Older adults whose diets have little variety may also become deficient in vitamin B-6. 

Sources and Recommendations

Vitamin B-6 is found in a wide range of foods, including meat, poultry, legumes, bananas and foods that are fortified with a supplemental form of the vitamin.

Adults need 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams (mg) daily to meet their requirements. To give you an idea of how you'd get that amount, you could eat one banana, one baked potato, one-half of a chicken breast and one ounce of nuts throughout the course of the day.

Use caution with vitamin B-6 supplements and follow label directions. Taking too much vitamin B-6 can, over time, cause a vitamin B-6 toxicity.

Source:

Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B6." Accessed October 19, 2010. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb6/.

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