To truly thrive, maintain health and support your active lifestyle, your body needs a daily supply of vitamin B-6. Since it's a water-soluble vitamin, any excess amounts are excreted. Your body doesn't store extra B-6 to fall back on just in case your diet lacks an adequate supply. Since it's found in a variety of foods, most people can meet their daily requirement through their diet.
Vitamin B-6 Basics
Vitamin B-6 enables about 100 different enzymes to do their jobs making protein, hormones and neurotransmitters. It must be present in adequate levels for your nervous and immune systems to function properly. Enzymes that depend on vitamin B-6 also synthesize red blood cells, which is why a deficiency may cause anemia. While severe deficiencies are rare, mild deficiencies are common, according to New York University. Lack of vitamin B6 can cause skin inflammation, a sore tongue, depression, confusion and convulsions.
Daily Recommended Dosage
The Institute of Medicine established a recommended daily allowance for women of 1.3 milligrams daily. The amount you need increases to 1.9 milligrams daily when you're pregnant and 2 milligrams for women who are breastfeeding. Larger doses of vitamin B-6 may help relieve morning sickness and PMS, but the amount needed to do that is significantly higher than your normal daily allowance. Talk to your physician before taking high-dose supplements because they can cause side effects.
Eating a balanced diet should provide all the vitamin B-6 you need to meet your daily requirement because it's found in many different foods. Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are one of the top sources. Beef, poultry and fish, such as tuna and salmon, are excellent sources. Potatoes, winter squash and spinach provide about 0.1 to 0.4 milligrams per serving. A medium banana also has 0.4 milligrams of vitamin B-6. Other good sources to choose from include raisins, nuts, chickpeas and cottage cheese.
Upper Tolerable Intake
You should never consume more than the upper tolerable intake of 100 milligrams daily. Be especially wary of high-dose supplements because they can cause nerve damage to the arms and legs. Sensitivity to sunlight, nausea, abdominal pain, allergic skin reactions and loss of appetite are other possible side effects of large doses of B-6. As with all supplements, there is a possibility that taking B-6 can interact with other herbal, over-the-counter or prescription medications. Your doctor can review your complete medical history to decide if supplementation is needed and how much is safe.
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