One of eight in the family of water-soluble B-complex vitamins, vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient not synthesized or stored by the body. As a necessary coenzyme for numerous bodily functions, vitamin B6 must be obtained through a healthy diet or supplementation, as unused water-soluble vitamins are excreted daily through urination. There are several forms of this very versatile vitamin, some of which require conversion by the liver into a bioavailable form. Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate (PLP or P5P), a metabolically active, readily absorbable form that doesn’t require conversion, allows the full health benefits of vitamin B6 to be quickly and easily utilized by the body.
All B-complex vitamins aid in protein and fat metabolism, as well as the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose utilized for energy production. Found largely in protein-rich foods, whole grains and some vegetables and nuts, vitamin B6 status can impact both physical and mental health. Because B6 is involved in numerous enzymatic reactions, adequate levels are key for promoting and maintaining overall wellness, as well as the cognitive health of aging brains. Studies have found that the combination of vitamins B6, B12 and folate may play a role in slowing cognitive decline and age-related memory loss, suggesting that these vitamins may also decrease the risk of depression, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Potential benefits of vitamin B6 supplementation include:
Brain health – Necessary for proper brain development in children and for healthy brain function in people of all ages, poor vitamin B6 status may play a role in cognitive decline, as studies show associations between higher serum vitamin B6 concentrations and better memory test scores. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), B vitamins, particularly B6, B12 and folate are widely believed to be protective against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related loss of cognitive function.
Heavy metal chelation – Heavy metal induced toxicity resulting from chronic exposure may be affecting up to 25% of Americans. Found in the air, water, soil and our food supply, heavy metals can accumulate in the body. Even at minute levels, toxic metals can have detrimental effects on the integrity of the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, musculoskeletal, and immune systems. Vitamin B6 as PLP has been shown to inhibit cellular lead toxicity by mobilizing lead deposits in tissues and enhancing excretion of toxic metals through urination.
Glycation – Glycation occurs when a sugar molecule, such as glucose or fructose, bonds to a protein or lipid molecule without the controlling action of an enzyme. This results in the formation of non-functioning advanced glycation end products or AGE’s. While AGE’s are a normal consequence of aging, they are far from desirable, as glycation is associated with diabetes related conditions, cataract development, atherosclerosis, kidney failure, neurological impairment, and visible signs of skin aging. PLP has been described as the most potent natural substance for inhibiting AGE formation, helping to combat premature aging and the underlying loss of structure and function associated with accelerated aging.
Homocysteine – Homocysteine is a byproduct created during protein metabolism. High levels of homocysteine are implicated in increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, and are viewed as a potential predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. Randomized controlled trials have shown that vitamin B6 can effectively reduce homocysteine levels associated with heart disease development and age-related cognitive decline.
Neurotransmitter production – B vitamins play a central role in the maintenance of nervous system health and function. Vitamin B6 is a necessary cofactor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, GABA, melatonin and noradrenaline. These chemical messengers affect every bodily cell, tissue and organ system and regulate mood, emotions, sleep, cognition, energy, appetite, pleasure, fear, and the stress response.
Chronic stress, aging, certain medications, obesity, pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, and medical conditions, such as poor kidney function, impaired liver function, malabsorption syndromes, and autoimmune diseases can interfere with or block intestinal absorption of vitamin B6. While it’s rare for healthy individuals to have a significant deficiency of B6, studies indicate that many individuals may be mildly deficient in all B vitamins, especially children and seniors. Marginal deficiencies in B vitamins can predispose individuals to a number of negative health consequences, including less than optimal brain function. Symptoms of deficiency can include muscle weakness, anemia, nervousness, depression, weakened immune function, difficulty concentrating, and short-term memory loss.
Professional Supplement Center carries many high quality products to ensure optimal intake of B-Complex vitamins in support of overall wellness:
P-5-P 50 mg by Designs for Health®: Each capsule supplies 50 mg of the activated form of vitamin B6 in support of a wide range of biological actions. Wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, egg, dairy, sugar, and artificial ingredient free.
P5P 50 (activated B6) by Pure Encapsulations®: Each vegetable capsule supplies 50 mg of active bioavailable vitamin B6 to provide beneficial nutritional support for a wide range of physiological functions. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic, vegetarian formulation.
P-5-P Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate by Klaire Labs®: Particularly well suited for individuals with amino acid imbalances or nutritional deficiencies, this already converted and easy-to-assimilate form of vitamin B6 metabolite provides coenzyme support for numerous biological functions. Gluten, soy, wheat, dairy, preservative and artificial ingredient free, Kosher-certified, hypoallergenic formulation.
Pyridoxal 5’ Phosphate by Metabolic Maintenance: This two-ingredient supplement provides 50 mg of vitamin B6 as P5P and 250 mg of vitamin C in support of optimal bodily function. Excipient free, vegan formulation.
Active B-Complex by Integrative Therapeutics®: This active B-Complex provides a full complement of bioavailable B vitamins necessary for numerous biochemical processes. Gluten, soy, wheat, sugar, yeast, dairy, and preservative free, vegetarian, NSF-Certified formulation.
PureGenomics® B-complex by Pure Encapsulations®: This gluten free, Non-GMO, hypoallergenic, vegan formulation provides highly active broad-spectrum B vitamin support to address the nutrient requirements of methylation processes, as well as cellular, cardiovascular, neurological, and psychological health.
What are the Benefits of Vitamin B6 to the Brain? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-vitamin-b6-brain-4217.html
B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/
Why vitamin B is so important for a healthy nervous system. https://www.health24.com/Lifestyle/Healthy-Nerves/The-nervous-system-Other-B-vitamins-20120721
Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Vitamin B6. Penguin Group 2010.