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The Big Benefits of B6

  • Category: Health & Wellness
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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
The Big Benefits of B6

To ‘B,’ or not to ‘B,’ are you getting enough B? Vitamin B6 to be specific. Part of a family of eight different B vitamins, B6 may sometimes get overshadowed by the others. B12, for example often gets more recognition for its job in keeping our blood and nerve cells healthy. But vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is no slouch. It plays a vital role in keeping our immune and nervous systems working properly.

B6 is a hard-working multitasker that affects your mood, appetite, sleep and thinking. In addition to helping you fight off infections, it helps turn food into energy and blood carry oxygen throughout your body. It also breaks down protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

A recent study found that nearly 13% of Americans may have a B6 deficiency. And that makes sense because it’s an essential vitamin that our bodies can’t make, which means we must get it from our diets. So, what happens if you’re running low on B6? Your immune system can weaken, making it harder to fight off infections and diseases. You can get anemia, which is when there are too few red blood cells flowing, making you feel tired or weak. Low B6 may trigger a nerve disorder called peripheral neuropathy causing your hands and feet to tingle or feel numb.

And for certain groups, B6 is especially important. For example, women who are pregnant need B6 in their diet the most. And if you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, a B6 supplement may help, with your doctor’s guidance. Seniors, if you’re noticing feelings of sadness or confusion, you may be low on B6. And a shortage of B6 in your diet could leave you with a higher risk of breast or prostate cancer.

What can you do to keep your vitamin B6 level on par? It’s easy -- you can get all the B6 you need from food. Protein sources such as poultry, beef and fish are some of the most common ways to get B6. Just 3 ounces of tuna has almost 50% of what an adult needs each day. For those who don’t eat meat, B6 can be just as easily found in veggies and fruits. Potatoes and corn are excellent sources of B6, as well as any fruit except for citruses like oranges and grapefruits. You can get half your daily allotment of B6 from just one cup of chickpeas.

Maintaining a high-quality diet is a great way to get the amount of vitamin B6 you need. But for people who’ve cut back on meat or dairy for health reasons, or for those who can’t get enough B6 from food, taking a multivitamin is one way to get an adequate amount of vitamin B6. So, are you getting enough ‘B’? That is the question.