What exactly is vitamin B6 and why is it important? And if it is so important, how do I know which foods are high in B6? If you have asked or are asking any of these questions, you have come to the right place! Here are 6 reasons you need vitamin B6. (Post may contain affiliate links).

Vitamin B6, also known as “pyridoxine,” is an essential nutrient. Pyridoxal phosphate is the name for the active form of vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin B6 acts as a “co-enzyme” in many reactions in the body.

In case you don't know what an enzyme is, it is a chemical in the body that gets things done. For example, lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the sugar in cow's milk. Other examples of enzymes are lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat. (Lipids are the technical term for fats). And amylase, which is in your spit, breaks down starch. Most of the time, if the word ends with “ase,” and it's connected to the human body, it is an enzyme.

So, vitamin B6 is essential for enzymes, such as lactase, lipase, and amylase, to work properly.

  • Vitamin B6 is also important in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (think transmission of nerves). Low amounts of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine, are implicated in various mental health issues, including depression and ADHD.
  • B6 is necessary for hemoglobin synthesis. Hemoglobin is the molecule that carries oxygen through your blood. Low hemoglobin leads to anemia.

 So, iron is not the only nutrient that is important for healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B6 is necessary as well.

  • Vitamin B6 is an important co-factor in the body's production of other important nutrients, such as the essential mineral selenium. A co-factor is a “helper” for proteins in the body, and is similar to a co-enzyme.
  • B6 is important for the conversion of tryptophan to niacin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in turkey and other foods. Niacin is another important and essential B vitamin. (vitamin B3)
  • Vitamin B6 is important for glucose metabolism.
  • Gene expression requires sufficient vitamin B6 in order to work correctly. (Think sufficient B6, reduced mutations/problems in the gene).

This is 6 reasons why vitamin B6 is important.

Why is Vitamin B6 inadequacy so common today?

Vitamin B6 is low in the American diet. This is because of low intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

What Foods are High in Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found in whole grain breads and cereals as well as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Specific examples of foods high in vitamin B6 include:

Bananas, pistachios, chocolate, avocado, whole grain breads, whole grain pasta. (B6 is found in the highest amounts in the germ). Also, green leafy vegetables, milk, fortified cereals, red meat, eggs, and turmeric.

Click here to receive a FREE table on foods high in vitamin B6 as well as a table of foods high in Folate.

Read about other vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D.

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