Health Information

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6


Pyridoxal; Pyridoxine; Pyridoxamine

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water so the body cannot store them. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a regular supply of these vitamins in your diet.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Function

    Vitamin B6 helps the body to:

    • Make antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases.
    • Maintain normal nerve function.
    • Make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the red blood cells to the tissues. A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause a form of anemia.
    • Break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
    • Keep blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges.
  • Food Sources

    Vitamin B6 is found in:

    • Avocado
    • Banana
    • Legumes (dried beans)
    • Beef and pork
    • Nuts
    • Poultry
    • Whole grains and fortified cereals
    • Corn

    Fortified breads and cereals may also contain vitamin B6. Fortified means that a vitamin or mineral has been added to the food.

  • Side Effects

    Large doses of vitamin B6 can cause:

    • Difficulty coordinating movement
    • Numbness
    • Sensory changes

    Deficiency of this vitamin can cause:

    • Confusion
    • Depression
    • Irritability
    • Mouth and tongue sores also known as glossitis
    • Peripheral neuropathy

    (Vitamin B6 deficiency is not common in the United States.)

  • Recommendations

    The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflects how much of each vitamin people should receive on a daily basis. The RDA for vitamins may be used to help create goals for each person.

    How much of each vitamin is needed depends on a person's age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy and illnesses, are also important. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

    Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin B6:


    • 0 to 6 months: 0.1* milligrams per day (mg/day)
    • 7 to 12 months: 0.3* mg/day

    *Adequate intake (AI)


    • 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg/day
    • 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg/day
    • 9 to 13 years: 1.0 mg/day

    Adolescents and Adults

    • Males age 14 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day
    • Males over 50 years: 1.7 mg/day
    • Females age 14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg/day
    • Females age 19 to 50 years: 1.3 mg/day
    • Females over 50 years: 1.5 mg/day
    • Females of all ages 1.9 mg/day during pregnancy and 2.0 mg/day during lactation

    The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.

Related Information

  AntibodyProtein in diet     Vitamins


Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1998. PMID: 23193625 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23193625.

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 225.

Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 26.


Review Date: 2/2/2015  

Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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