20 Vitamin B6 Foods for a Healthy Brain

Vitamin B6 Foods

Vitamin B6 is one of eight vitamins belonging to the same group. They are all involved in the process of converting foods into energy needed for the normal functioning of our body. In addition to this function, vitamin B6 has a number of other important roles. So it is crucial to consume enough vitamin B6 foods in order to feel good and stay healthy. If you would like to know what functions other vitamins have, have a look at this informative infographic, which was prepared by our team of experts from MedAlertHelp.org.

What Is Vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body doesn’t store it in large amounts. Any excess that the body doesn’t need is excreted in the urine. That’s why it is of great importance to consume foods rich in this nutrient every day. The term vitamin B6 actually covers six different compounds. The body converts them into the active forms of this vitamin – pyridoxal phosphate, which play vital roles in our organism.

Vitamin B6 Benefits

This vitamin takes part in over 100 enzyme reactions, which are mostly related to protein metabolism. It also plays an important role in other metabolic processes involving amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.

Furthermore, vitamin B6 is involved in the production of hemoglobin, a protein which transports oxygen to our cells. If hemoglobin levels are low, our cells don’t get enough oxygen, and we are at risk of developing anemia. Vitamin B6 can be used for preventing and treating this blood disorder.

Another major function of this vitamin is to promote the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, it is vital for healthy brain development. In addition to carrying signals from one neuron (nerve cell) to another, neurotransmitters contribute to the production of hormones influencing our mood and sleep cycle.

According to some research, people with low levels of vitamin B6 are at higher risk of heart disease. Since vitamin B6 reduces homocysteine levels in the blood, a vitamin B6 supplement may prevent clogged arteries and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Thanks to lowering homocysteine levels, vitamin B6 may also prevent eye diseases, especially age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This type of vision loss has been related to high levels of homocysteine, so a sufficient intake of B6 can lower the risk of this condition.

Vitamin B6 is an ingredient in some medications used for treating morning sickness. This condition involves nausea and vomiting during the first months of pregnancy. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you start using any drugs while you are pregnant.

Vitamin B6 Sources

A wide range of foods contain vitamin B6, but meat, fish, and potatoes are particularly rich in this vitamin. Also, breakfast cereals and other types of foods are often fortified with this nutrient. As low levels of vitamin B6 can cause both physical and mental problems, it’s of high importance to consume enough foods rich in this vitamin. Below you can find a vitamin B6 foods list, which will hopefully help you when preparing your daily menu.

Beef Liver

Beef liver is packed with vitamin B6. Three ounces of pan-fried liver provide you with 45% of your daily value (DV) of this important vitamin. Ground beef is also a good source of this nutrient. A three-ounce patty made of lean beef can cover 15% of your DV of vitamin B6.

Chicken

Other types of meat also belong to foods rich in vitamin B6. For example, a three-ounce serving of roasted chicken breast gives you 25% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin. Dark meat is a bit less rich in this nutrient, as three ounces of cooked, skinless meat will provide you with 18% of your DV of vitamin B6.

Turkey

In order to improve your intake of vitamin B6, you can eat turkey meat since it is a great source of this vitamin. In three ounces of roasted meat, you will get 20% of your daily value of this nutrient. In addition, it will provide you with other B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B5.

Salmon

Certain types of fish are also rich sources of vitamin B6. For instance, three ounces of cooked sockeye salmon serve 30% of the recommended daily value of this vital nutrient. What’s more, this type of fish belongs to vitamin B12 foods, and it’s an excellent source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Tuna

Tuna is another type of fish loaded with vitamin B6. Three ounces of cooked yellowfin tuna provide you with 45% of your DV of this vitamin. This fish is also rich in several minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. However, tuna is high in cholesterol, so you should eat it in moderation.

Chickpeas

Besides meat and fish, there are a variety of vitamin B6 rich foods vegetarian people can enjoy. Chickpeas are one of them as they are rich in this essential nutrient. In one cup of canned chickpeas, you will get 55% of your daily value of vitamin B6.

Potatoes

Potatoes also have a high vitamin B6 content. One cup of boiled potatoes provides you with 20% of your DV of this vitamin. Moreover, this veggie is a great source of other B vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin, and some healthy minerals, like potassium and copper.

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is also one of the foods high in vitamin B6. One cup of baked acorn squash cut in cubes covers 23% of the recommended daily value of this nutrient. In addition, this type of winter squash is rich in vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is another kind of winter squash that is a very good source of vitamin B6. One cup of cooked butternut squash provides you with 15% of your daily value of this vitamin. It is also a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium.

Spinach

Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable belonging to foods with vitamin B6. Half a cup of boiled spinach will cover 5% of your DV of this valuable nutrient. This veggie is highly nutritious as it contains vitamins A, E, and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Green Peas

Green peas are another veggie rich in vitamin B6. If you eat one cup of cooked green peas, you will cover 20% of your daily needs of this vitamin. In addition, they have a high content of protein, vitamin K, thiamin, and manganese.

Pistachio Nuts

Vitamin B6 rich foods also include some nuts. For example, one ounce of pistachio nuts gives you 28% of your DV of vitamin B6. Furthermore, they have a high thiamin content. Pistachio nuts are an excellent source of numerous minerals, including copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

Chestnuts

Chestnuts are another great source of vitamin B6. In ten kernels of roasted chestnuts, you will get 25% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin. They are also rich in other B vitamins, such as thiamin and folate. When it comes to minerals, they are a very good source of manganese, copper, and potassium.

Bananas

When talking about vitamin B6 fruits, bananas are a great choice. One medium banana contains 20% of your DV of this nutrient. Moreover, this fruit is a rich source of dietary fiber and vitamin C.

Avocados

Avocados have numerous health benefits as they are packed with nutrients. You can cover 30% of your daily value of vitamin B6 by eating just one avocado. In addition, they will provide you with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.

Elderberries

Among foods that contain vitamin B6 are also some berries, including elderberries. One cup of this fruit serves 20% of the recommended daily value of this vitamin. Furthermore, these berries are very healthy as they contain vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and potassium.

Mangoes

Mangoes are great for boosting the immune system. One cup of mango pieces provides you with 12% of your DV of vitamin B6. Moreover, they have a high content of vitamin C, and they are a rich source of vitamin A.

Pineapples

Pineapples are also good vitamin B6 foods sources. With one cup of pineapple chunks, you will cover 11% of your daily need of this nutrient. What’s more, this fruit is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, thiamin, manganese, and copper.

Dried Apricots

Dried fruit is quite healthy thanks to a high content of dietary fiber and iron. In one ounce of dried apricots, you will get 9% of your DV of vitamin B6. Other important nutrients they contain are vitamin A and potassium. However, eat them in moderation as they have much more sugar than fresh apricots.

Grapes

One cup of red or green grapes has 8% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. Since they are foods that have vitamin B6, you can benefit from adding them to your diet. Grapes are very healthy since they are also rich in vitamins C and K.

Recommended Daily Intake

In the Dietary Reference Intakes provided by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), you can find daily intake recommendations for all the vitamins and minerals. Below you can have a look at the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin B6. RDA is an average daily intake that should cover the nutrient requirements of most healthy people. If your diet lacks foods rich in this nutrient, you may endanger your health. However, taking too much vitamin B6 is not good either as there are some adverse vitamin B6 side effects.

The RDAs for vitamin B6 depending on age and sex are as follows:

  • From birth to 6 months – 0.1 mg
  • From 7 to 12 months – 0.3 mg
  • From 1 to 3 years – 0.5 mg
  • From 4 to 8 years – 0.6 mg
  • From 9 to 13 years – 1.0 mg
  • From 14 to 18 years – 1.3 mg (male) and 1.2 mg (female)
  • From 19 to 50 years – 1.3 mg (male) and 1.3 mg (female)
  • 50+ years – 1.7 mg (male) and 1.5 (female)

However, pregnant women are recommended to take 1.9 mg of vitamin B6. Also, during lactation, the RDA for this vitamin is 2.0 mg.

Vitamin B6 Deficiency

People are rarely deficient only in vitamin B6. It is much more common that they have low levels of several B vitamins. People with a deficiency in vitamin B6 show various symptoms, including skin rashes, cracked and sore lips, and a swollen or inflamed tongue. Other vitamin B6 deficiency symptoms are tiredness, low energy levels, and a weakened immune system. Low concentrations of this nutrient may also cause depression, anxiety, and irritability.

If you have healthy eating habits, you don’t need to worry about nutrient deficiency. However, certain diseases can cause a deficiency in vitamin B6. For example, kidney diseases and homocystinuria may result in low levels of this vitamin. Also, malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, can lead to low concentrations of vitamin B6. In addition, a deficiency in this nutrient can result from a long-term use of some medications.

Who Should Take Vitamin B6 Supplements?

As long as you follow a balanced diet, there is probably no need to take supplements. However, people with certain medical problems might need to increase their daily intake of this vitamin. It’s worth mentioning that a high vitamin B6 dosage can cause some serious health conditions, so always consult your physician about dietary supplementation.

People suffering from kidney diseases are likely to have low concentrations of vitamin B6. Also, those who have received a kidney transplant often have a deficiency in this vitamin. In addition, low levels of vitamin B6 are characteristic of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Other autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, are also connected with low concentrations of this nutrient.

Alcoholics are another group at risk of developing a deficiency in vitamin B6. That’s why they are recommended to take vitamin supplements.

Vitamin B6 Toxicity

There is no evidence that food sources of vitamin B6 cause adverse effects. However, high doses of pyridoxine, a form of vitamin B6, can cause severe neurologic symptoms. Excessive intakes of this vitamin may also lead to painful skin lesions, photosensitivity, and problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including heartburn and nausea.

The FNB has defined the tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for vitamin B6, which differ depending on age. The ULs are not meant for those who receive this vitamin as a medical treatment.

Conclusion

Vitamin B6 is vital for a number of body systems. For example, one important vitamin B6 function is to maintain our nervous system healthy. That’s why it’s crucial to develop healthy eating habits and include various foods that contain this precious nutrient in our diet. Remember that it’s always best to rely on natural sources of this vitamin as high intakes of supplements can lead to some serious medical conditions.

FAQ

What does vitamin B6 do?

Vitamin B6 has an important role in more than 100 enzyme reactions. It is also involved in protein, carbohydrate, amino acid, and lipid metabolisms. This vitamin is responsible for the production of hemoglobin and brain development as it promotes the production of neurotransmitters. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, and it’s used for preventing and treating morning sickness during pregnancy.

Does vitamin B6 help you sleep?

Vitamin B6 can affect your sleeping cycle as it regulates the level of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is responsible for relaxation and sleep. Vitamin B6 converts tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter which also takes part in the regulation of sleep patterns.

What is the normal range for vitamin B6?

Recommended daily intakes depend on age and sex. Both men and women aged from 19 to 50 years old should take 1.3 mg a day. However, men older than 50 need 1.7 mg a day, while women of that age need 1.5 mg a day. Since high doses of vitamin B6 taken as a supplement have negative side effects, both men and women older than 19 shouldn’t take more than 100 mg a day.

What are the symptoms of too much vitamin B6?

High intakes of vitamin B6 as a supplement can cause a number of adverse effects, including severe neurological symptoms. High doses may also result in skin lesions, photosensitivity, and gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and heartburn.

What foods contain vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found in a number of foods. Fish, beef liver, and other common meats, like chicken and turkey, are rich sources of this vitamin. Other vitamin B6 foods include potatoes, green peas, winter squash, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables. This nutrient is also often added to certain types of foods, such as cereals.

What fruit has vitamin B6?

A variety of fruits is rich in vitamin B6. For example, bananas, mangoes, avocados, and pineapples are all great sources of this vitamin. Some berries, such as elderberries, gooseberries, and blueberries, are high in this nutrient as well. Vitamin B6 can also be found in dried fruit, like dried apricots and prunes.

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