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Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in limited amounts. Because they are excreted through the urine, it is a good idea to have them in your daily diet.


Vitamin B6's functions include:

Recommended Intake:

Age Group (in years) Recommended Dietary Allowance
Females Males
1-3 0.5 milligrams (mg) 0.5 mg
4-8 0.6 mg 0.6 mg
9-13 1.0 mg 1.0 mg
14-18 1.2 mg 1.3 mg
19-50 1.3 mg 1.3 mg
Pregnancy 1.9 mg n/a
Lactation 2.0 mg n/a
51 + 1.5 mg 1.7 mg

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Primary deficiency of vitamin B6 is rare—most foods contain the vitamin. Secondary deficiency may result in certain situations, including malabsorption, alcoholism, some medications, and cigarette smoking. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include:

Vitamin B6 Toxicity

The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for vitamin B6 from dietary sources and supplements combined is 100 mg per day for adults. Symptoms of vitamin B6 toxicity include:

Major Food Sources

Food Serving Size Vitamin B6 Content
Breakfast cereal, fortified 25% ¾ cup 0.5
(check Nutrition Facts label)
Beef liver, pan fried 3 ounces 0.9
Potato, boiled 1 cup 0.4
Banana 1 medium 0.4
Chicken breast, roasted, no skin 3 ounces 0.5
Chickpeas, canned 1 cup 1.1
Turkey, meat only, roasted 3 ounces 0.4
Ground beef, 85% lean 3.0 ounces 0.3
Spaghetti sauce 1 cup 0.4
Waffles, ready to heat 1 waffle 0.3
Mixed nuts, dry roasted 1 ounce 0.1
Rice, white, enriched 1 cup 0.1
Tuna, fresh 3 ounces 0.9
Raisins, seedless ½ cup 0.1
Spinach, frozen, boiled ½ cup 0.1
Tofu, raw ½ cup 0.1

Health Implications

Populations at Risk for Vitamin B6 Deficiency

The following populations may be at risk for vitamin B6 deficiency and may require a supplement:

  • People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol
  • People with poor kidney function
  • People with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis

Vitamin B6, Homocysteine, and Heart Disease

Homocysteine is an amino acid normally found in the blood. Studies have shown that elevated blood levels of homocysteine can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are required for the metabolism of homocysteine, it is thought that a deficiency of any of the 3 may increase the level of homocysteine in the blood. Studies have failed to show that taking these vitamins as supplements in people with normal levels offers protection from heart disease.

Morning Sickness

There is evidence that high levels of B6 can help alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy.

Areas of Research That Have Not Been Supported by Clinical Data

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) —There has been much anecdotal evidence that vitamin B6 can help relieve the symptoms of PMS—depression, irritability, bloating, mastalgia. However, clinical trials have failed to support this idea.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome —There is no evidence to support the idea that B6 can ease carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tips for Increasing Your Vitamin B6 Intake

To help increase your intake of vitamin B6:


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

American Society for Nutrition


Dietitians of Canada

Health Canada


Homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 5, 2015. Accessed March 17, 2016.

Pyridoxine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated March 14, 2016. Accessed March 17, 2016.

Vitamin B6. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: Updated December 15, 2015. Accessed March 17, 2016.

Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed March 17, 2016.

Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD