Last updated: January 13, 2017
As with all B-vitamins, B6 is important for a wide array of cognitive and physical functions in the body. One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin B6 is for improving energy metabolism at the cellular level . Because vitamin B6 is a co-factor for over 100 enzymatic actions in the brain and body, it is no wonder this vitamin is crucial for overall health.
A deficiency of vitamin B6 can create negative cognitive consequences, such as poor mood, depression, and mental state . Many people who are deficient in vitamin B6 are mid to late age, which increases the risks of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia .
Although most westerners are not deficient in vitamin B6, a standard B-complex may provide additional cognitive advantages even to healthy adults.
Also Known As
pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, pyridoxal, pyridoxal phosphate, pyridoxal-5′-phosphate, PLP
Editors’ Thoughts on Vitamin B6
I’ve never tried B6 by itself and don’t feel the need to supplement given how ubiquitous this nutrient is in a modern western diet. That being said, there are nootropic compounds that include vitamin B6 (such as Qualia, which I’m currently taking as I write this).
A B-complex is a relatively safe bet no matter what your diet looks like, which will include vitamin B6 either way.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Benefits of Vitamin B6
One of the main cognitive benefits of vitamin B6 is memory enhancement. In a 1992 study in Psychopharmacology, nearly 80 participants utilized vitamin B6 and found positive effects with memory formation and “…especially concerning long-term memory” . The study was done in elderly, but not diseased men suggesting that many healthy adults can benefit from vitamin B6 supplementation.
Vitamin B6 is also responsible for helping synthesize numerous brain chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain. A Japanese study suggested B6 supported enzymatic action that created acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and melatonin , which is more than 75% of the most important brain chemicals.
Neuroprotection is another main benefit of vitamin B6. A 2003 Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found positive correlation between B6 and cognitive aging , though admitted more research was needed on the subject. The key mechanism at play may be vitamin B6’s benefit for reducing homocysteine levels, which is seen as a factor in dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Finally, because vitamin B6 is so essential to human life, it has an integral role for central nervous system function .
Another novel benefit of vitamin B6 at higher dose (100 – 250 mg) is increased vivid dreams. Studies suggest vitamin B6 interacts with dopamine and serotonin production enough to increase the intensity of dreams .
Side Effects of Vitamin B6
The side effects of vitamin B6 are relatively mild and most people only experience gastrointestinal distress at the higher doses. However, keep in mind that vitamin B6 plays a large role in the body and brain, which means it will interact with other prescription drugs.
If you are taking prescription drugs, it is best to speak with a professional about vitamin B6 and how it might impact your current medicine regime.
Vitamin B6 Dosage
The dosage recommendations by the United States RDA are around 2 mg per day. You could probably find that much vitamin B6 in a traditional B-complex.
Some products, such as Qualia, have up to 1000% the daily recommended intake (20 mg), but there were plenty of studies that gave 100 and even 250 mg of vitamin B6.
We recommend starting out on the lower end of the dose range and work your way up if you feel deficient.
How and Where to Buy Vitamin B6
The fact that vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient for brain and body health makes it relatively easy to find at a local health food store or grocery store. You can purchase vitamin B6 in the form of a specific supplement or in a simple B-complex, which will have all the different types of b-vitamins.
It is best to purchase vitamin b6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), which is the most well-absorbed and has the most purported nootropic effects. You can find a P-5-P vitamin B6 supplement if you click here. This is a recommended supplier.
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