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 Vitamins: Vitamin B6 -- Pyridoxine  
 

Pyridoxine is especially important in regard to protein metabolism. Many amino acid reactions depend on vitamin B6 to help in the transport of amino acids across the intestinal mucosa into the blood and from the blood into cells. By itself and with other enzymes, pyridoxal-5-phosphate helps build amino acids, break them down, and change one to another and is especially related to the production and metabolism of choline, methionine, serine, cysteine, tryptophan, and niacin.

The body has a high requirement for vitamin B6 during pregnancy. It is important for maintaining hormonal and fluid balance of the mother and for the developing nervous system of the baby. Pyridoxine may somehow be related to the development and health of the myelin covering of the nerves, which allows them to conduct impulses properly.

Uses: With its many functions, there is also a wide range of clinical uses of vitamin B6, clearly being most helpful when symptoms and diseases are related to a pyridoxine/pyridoxal-5-phosphate depletion or deficiency. Recently there has been widespread use of higher doses of B6, usually from 50-200 mg. per day (though some studies use 500 mg. per day of pyridoxine in time-release form) for premenstrual symptoms, especially water retention, which can lead to breast soreness and emotional tension. Pyridoxine has been very helpful in this role, probably because of its diuretic effect through its influence on sodium-potassium balance and its mysterious influence on the hormonal system. Vitamin B6 also helps with the acne that often develops premenstrually, as well as with dysmenorrhea, or menstrual pain; magnesium is usually used as well in all of these menstrual-related problems. In pregnancy, B6 has been helpful in many women for controlling the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness, which some authorities feel is highly related to vitamin B6 deficiency.


Linda B., a 33-year-old wife and mother of two, came to see me complaining of premenstrual irritability along with severe breast swelling and pain, all of which interfered with her life. She began a simple supplement regimen that included vitamin B6 50 mg. three times daily. She felt remarkably better during her next two menstrual cycles. Follow-up care included some diet shifts, weight loss, and a continued supplement program. She began feeling better throughout the month, and her well-being has continued for years. My office still receives thank-you notes from her.

It seems that whenever there are increased levels of estrogen in the body, more B6 is required. This occurs not only in pregnancy but also for women who take birth control pills and those postmenopausal women on estrogen treatment as well. It is likely that some of the emotional symptoms experienced by many women on the pill, such as fatigue, mood swings, depression, and loss of sex drive, may be related to a deficiency of B6 and thereby helped by supplementation.

Vitamin B6 is used for people with stress conditions, fatigue, headaches, nervous disorders, anemia, and low blood sugar or diabetes, and in men for prostatitis, low sex drive, or hair loss. Pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) is occasionally used in formulas or as an individual supplement for certain conditions. As the active coenzyme of pyridoxine, P5P can go more directly into the metabolic cycles and does not have to be converted; thus, it may be more helpful than pyridoxine alone in such problems as fatigue, allergies, viral disease, chemical sensitivities, mental illness, and cancer. Pyridoxine supplementation is also used for a variety of skin problems--dandruff, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. In regard to the nervous system, vitamin B6 has been supportive in cases of epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and neuritis. Vitamin B6 therapy, from 100-300 mg. daily for 8-12 weeks, appears to reduce carpal tunnel syndrome and increase the ability to use the hands in most patients.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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